Money Can’t Buy You Love: Johnston Pulls Out of Assembly

Michael Johnston.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins posts a significant update in the Democratic gubernatorial primary–former Sen. Mike Johnston, whose campaign has been primarily bankrolled by out-of-state interests backing his controversial stands on education, is pulling out of the Democratic state assembly process:

Former State Sen. Mike Johnston today let Democratic Party officials know he won’t be in Broomfield, according to his campaign. “We are no longer planning to participate in the state assembly,” said Johnston spokeswoman Grace Hanover.

She said the campaign is reaching out to delegates who cast ballots for Johnston in the county assemblies and letting them know they should vote however they see fit…

So far, throughout the caucus-and-assembly process, Kennedy has locked up votes from more than 50 percent of delegates, according to her campaign. Polis has about 33 percent of them, his campaign says. Those are unlikely to shift to any large degree, and a small percentage of delegates will head to the assembly uncommitted.

Since March 6, Johnston has been showing up and giving speeches at county assemblies, but he hasn’t caught fire with the delegates to the extent that Kennedy and Polis have. [Pols emphasis]

Johnston has already made the June 26 Democratic primary ballot by turning in petition signatures. A fourth Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, made no attempt to compete in the assembly process and is awaiting the ruling on her own petition signatures:

Democratic voters can sign petitions for as many candidates as they want, but their signature will only count for the candidate who turns their petitions in first, meaning Johnston and Polis’s signature list will count against Lynne’s.

Given the low validity rate for Johnston’s signatures and the fact that Lynne is third in line to submit, there’s a real possibility of Lynne failing to qualify for the ballot. For Johnston, failure to thrive in the Democratic caucuses helps pigeonhole him as an non-competitive candidate being propped up by special interests. It would have been smarter to not have gone the dual caucus/petition route at all, since pulling out now underscores the same point as his poor caucus performance does. But it’s too late for that.

Given Cary Kennedy’s so-far domination of the assemblies and Jared Polis’ success in taking both routes, this latest development only confirms for us the direction the race is moving. Barring something unexpected, either Kennedy or Polis will be the Democratic nominee–and most likely, the next governor of Colorado.

16 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Pigeonholing happens.

  2. Pseudonymous says:

    I'm not sure why Mike bothered with the party process.  I can only guess that he thought it necessary or prudent for some reason.  Mike's play has always been the primary election.

    He's a charismatic, thoughtful, and capable person, and it would be foolish to think that he won't resonate more strongly with the primary electorate than the assembly base.  That may not be enough to pull him ahead of Polis, who I think is his real rival for votes, but Mike has lots of money and true believers behind him.

    • Davie says:

      Seems he overestimated the support he would get in the caucuses, then wanted to use the county assembly to try and persuade delegates to switch to him. That obviously didn’t work.

      He's going to need all the money he can get to pay for a strong ground game. 

      Jared, and particularly Cary, will have a large army of door knockers to get their message directly to voters.

      • Pseudonymous says:

        The ground game also isn't a problem for Mike.  While he won't get my vote, if I decide to participate in the primary, it's not because he's not going to be good at running.

        • Davie says:

          My point was that Mike won't have the support of a lot of volunteers that both Jared and Cary will have.

          So he'll have to buy his supporters as well as pay for media coverage, which is expensive.  And as you say, he's not getting your vote, so he's already starting from behind wink

          • Pseudonymous says:

            Unless Mike is just straight-up lying, that's not the case.

            Denver, CO – Today, Mike Johnston became the first gubernatorial candidate to turn in the required signatures for petitioning onto June’s Democratic primary ballot.

            The Johnston campaign took an unconventional approach in securing the 10,500 signatures — 1,500 from each of seven congressional districts in the state. Unlike the vast majority of campaigns, Johnston and his team opted not to hire an outside firm or vendor, instead choosing to do the work themselves. Johnston relied on an army of volunteers across Colorado to start 50,000 conversations with voters of all backgrounds in order to collect over 22,000 signatures. [emphasis mine]

  3. Voyageur says:

    Money, maybe.  Believers, not so much.  Cary has more charisma in her ring finger than mike has in his whole body.

  4. Moderatus says:

    Purge all moderates. Only union-approved radicals need apply. Got it Colorado Pols!

    • unnamed says:

      Yeah.  Like how the Freedom Caucus and far right Trumpers have the Republican party's balls in a vice.

      Where is your proof that Obama illegally obtained voters' private data to win elections?

    • spaceman65 says:

      Moddy, it’s time for an MRI.  


    • mamajama55 says:

      Thanks for previewing the right wing attack strategy against Kennedy; the "liberty" faction (fueled by Koch money) has been attacking Jared Polis for a year, assuming that he'd be the Democratic nominee for governor.

      If it's Kennedy instead (which I think it will be), your side will be trotting out all of the old demonizations against the teacher's union to attack her.

      Previewing the current right wing talking points is your job on this site, and you do it well.


  5. Unitary Moonbat says:

    A report yesterday at the Colorado Independent was a little more clear on the danger that turning up at the assembly could pose to Johnston:

    Candidates who show up to the assembly need 30 percent of the vote from the 4,000 delegates in order to make the ballot — unless they have already gathered enough valid petitions. However, if a candidate does not get 10 percent of the vote, that candidate can’t be on the ballot even if he or she has enough valid petitions.

    There's a very good chance that Johnston wouldn't be able to clear that hurdle, especially if 83% of the delegate votes are already accounted for – means that if only 8% of the remainder decided to go with Kennedy or Polis, then Johnston's skin-of-his-teeth qualification via petition would've all been for not.

    There are a lot of adjectives one can apply to Michael Johnston – talk to any of the vast majority of teachers in Colorado and you'll get an earful – but "brave" has never been one of them. It's no surprise that he'd bail on a chance to address the state convention of the party under whose auspices he's running for governor – remember that this is the guy who was first "won" his Senate seat when 64 out of 126 people voted for him in a vacancy committee meeting. If there's a back door that connections and money can open, you're never going to find Michael Johnston going in the front.

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