Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado wasn't a household name outside of his state until January, when he made an impassioned speech criticizing Texas Senator Ted Cruz over his position on the government shutdown. After his 25-minute monologue, Bennet's name was added to the lengthy list of Democratic candidates reportedly musing on a 2020 bid.
On Thursday, that rumor became a reality: Bennet, 54, announced his candidacy just one month after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. His Senate office said in April that Bennet has received a clean bill of health
We cannot be the first generation to leave less to our kids, not more.-- Michael Bennet (@MichaelBennet) May 2, 2019
That's why I'm running for President. Let's build opportunity for every American and restore integrity to our government.
The two-term senator and lawyer has mostly worked in politics and doesn't boast a robust business background. However, Bennet took a break from politics in the late 1990s to work as the managing director for the Anschutz Investment Company, a venture capital investment firm. There, he helped consolidate three movie theater chains into the Regal Entertainment Group and managed the reorganization of an oil company, according to Colorado Springs Independent. However, his time as Colorado's senator offers more insights into his views on American entrepreneurship.
In July 2015, Senator Bennet became a co-sponsor of the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law later that year. The legislation waives the fees of Small Business Administration express loans for veterans, provides additional fee waivers for veteran-owned small businesses and requires reviews of existing SBA programs for veterans.
"Our veterans are uniquely suited to create successful businesses that can help drive our economy," Bennet said in 2015. "This bill makes it easier for veterans to access the capital that is key to starting businesses and supporting jobs in communities throughout Colorado and the country."
Bennet has also written and passed legislation that helps entrepreneurs raise capital. Bennet co-wrote the Crowdfunding Act, which was signed into law in 2012 and allows companies to raise up to $1 million annually through crowdfunding websites registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Additionally, the bill also requires the crowdfunding platforms to provide protection, like materials that inform people of the risks associated with illiquidity and smaller issuers.
"Access to capital is essential to strengthening small businesses and to driving growth in the state's booming high-tech and startup communities," Bennet said in 2016. "As new technologies emerge, we must continue to find new ways to build our innovation economy and support the industries creating the jobs of the future."