So, Um, About Mike Johnston’s Big Haul…

Michael Johnston.

Nic Garcia writes at Chalkbeat Colorado about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston’s eye-popping first quarter of fundraising–a big haul of money that, under the hood, raises many questions even as the money helps make Johnston a contender:

Nearly 70 percent of the money donated to former state Sen. Michael Johnston’s gubernatorial bid in the first quarter of 2017 came from outside Colorado, records show.

The list of out-of-state donors includes several supporters of the national education reform movement.

They include Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook; Howard Wolfson, director of education at Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York; and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, the program that gave Johnston his start as an educator.

Johnston raised $632,834 between Jan. 1 and March 31, his campaign reported to the Secretary of State. Of that, $445,389 came from outside Colorado.

What you’re seeing here is the product of Johnston’s leadership in the Colorado legislature on the issue of education reform. As a former teacher and school principal, education has always been central to his campaign message, and left-trending education reformers have been very well funded indeed by wealthy philanthropists. It’s important to note that we’re not talking so much about the far-right Betsy DeVos wing of education reform, with its emphasis on “freedom” for religious schooling and homeschooling–well beyond Johnston’s record of support for school innovation and teacher accountability.

Unfortunately for former Sen. Johnston, the legacy of his “landmark” teacher accountability legislation, SB10-191 has been almost entirely negative for the overwhelming majority of Colorado teachers. Even teachers who rate highly under the new law complain it has forced them to change their teaching style and subject matter to meet arbitrary benchmarks. SB10-191 is at least in part responsible for the growing shortage of teachers in Colorado, with less onerous opportunities available to the declining number of licensed teacher graduates elsewhere.

About 10 percent of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s first-quarter campaign donations in 2010 came from outside Colorado, records show. Less than 1 percent of former Gov. Bill Ritter’s first quarter donations in 2005 were from out of state.

Clearly, by historical standards Johnston’s lopsided majority of out-of-state donors is very unusual. It suggests that Johnston’s real base of support in Colorado is quite limited, and that in turn could well limit his ability to sustain his very high initial fundraising. Especially in a Democratic primary, we just don’t see an education reform-based single issue campaign gaining traction.

And that appears to be Johnston’s sole claim to fame and fortune.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. RepealAndReplace says:

    So should he turn the money down if it comes from out of state?

  2. Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

    No, but he shoulda saved it for Q2 of his campaign. Far better to raise what you can locally first, and then use that to leverage outside support. Rookie mistake.

    • Pseudonymous says:

      Or, that's how his income is going to look throughout the race, so why be sly?  Mike has money here, but probably much more money outside.

      Also fun to see that John Morse is doing his accounting.

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Ed Perlmutter owns Colorado Pols. Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston both know it now!

  4. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Pols apparently does not like success even for Democrats.

  5. Because of SB10-191, I was already not supportive of Johnston. The fundraising story just cements it for me.

  6. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    What don't you like about 191, Corky?

  7. ZappateroZappatero says:

    your concern for campaign funds far outweighs its importance (well, to everyone but those who make a buck selling advice – good, bad and worse – to rudderless politicians) to voters and in policy by helping the best team win.

    It guarantees nothing and signifies nothing.

    Your guy MB proved that, without doubt, these last several election cycles.

    You guys should track Democratic policies, what the people really want, and push the politicians to enact them. You should quit this triangulation/failure reinforcement  pattern and this whimpering at the sight of a Republican Willing to Lie About Anything and Everything Who Might Call Me a Bad Name.

     

  8. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    I have to say if Johnston's only selling point is "I'm an educrat.", he's in the wrong race. There are an awful lot of Dems who aren't very keen on some of the education "reforms" that have been put in place starting with Bill Owens' tenure in the Gov's office.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Being an educrat worked for Michael Bennet. But then, that was an appointment, not an election. You're right, cook.

      The problem with some of the education reforms, and teacher evaluation per SB191 being based 50% on score growth, is that whether kid's scores go up or not is so much a crapshoot. It depends on the kids you get that year, and whether they are motivated or burned out or opting out or what's going on at home.  There were 2 years in which I earned a bonus because my student's reading scores increased more than expected; yet, I'd be hard put to say what I did differently that year than any other year. It was the kids.

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