UPDATE: Here’s the official statement from Johnston’s campaign:
“The most rewarding parts of my life have come when I was part of a team: a team of teachers building a school; a team of legislators passing laws to fight the climate crisis or stop gun violence; a team of citizens helping elect a president.
“Over the last eight months, we have built an incredible team of people bound by a shared mission: to defeat Cory Gardner and take back the U.S. Senate; to deliver progressive solutions on the climate crisis, democracy reform, immigration and guns; and to restore people’s faith in politics and each other.
“Over the last few weeks we have reached a place where those goals are at odds. The campaign we would need to run to win this race would violate my basic values in politics and could risk us losing this Senate seat.
“To win this Democratic primary would now require an expensive and negative campaign. That is not who I am, and no race is worth conceding victory to a brand of broken politics that I have spent my life trying to change.
“That divisive process would break long-standing relationships in this state and would only increase the chances that a battered Democratic nominee would help Gardner win and help McConnell keep control of the Senate. With the climate crisis, the future of the Supreme Court, and the core tenets of our democracy on the line, the stakes are too high for me to take that risk. I cannot be true to my values and lead a campaign that abandons the politics of what is possible in favor of a politics of attack, or a campaign that puts at risk the very goal my family entered this race to accomplish. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the U.S. Senate.
“I am not walking away from the work of building our democracy, but running towards it. I believe in this work more deeply than ever, and believe we need leaders of courage and conviction in a time of crisis. I am deeply committed to advancing the work we have started and will remain dedicated to fighting the climate crisis and fixing our broken democracy.
“I know there will be other moments to serve in other ways, but when you’re part of a team, it does not matter what role you play, it matters what result you deliver. When you remember that the team is bigger than you, you find your place not according to what serves you best, but what serves us best.”
Former State Senator Mike Johnston, who was the leading fundraiser among Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate, announced today that he is effectively ending his campaign because of the recent candidacy of former Governor John Hickenlooper.
As the Colorado Sun reports:
“As we looked out at the road ahead, what I saw is to win this Democratic primary would now require an expensive and a negative campaign. And that’s not who I am,” Johnston said in an interview with The Colorado Sun. “I think no race is worth conceding victory to a brand of broken politics that I’ve spent my life trying to change.”…
…In an attempt to quash the notion that Hickenlooper is the Democrat with the best chance of winning back the seat, Johnston’s campaign last month went so far as to release a poll showing that he too could beat Gardner in 2020.
But Johnston said in an interview with The Sun that he ultimately realized the only way he could win his party’s nomination at this point was to spend a lot of money and time attacking Hickenlooper. He feels that nasty battle could put the Senate seat in jeopardy.
Johnston said a battered Democratic nominee would only have the effect of helping Gardner and Republicans keep the U.S. senate and win.
“I don’t think that is good for us, or good for the country, or good for the nominee,” he said. “… For me with the climate crisis and the future of the Supreme Court and the core tenants of democracy on the line, I just couldn’t take that risk.”
Johnston’s exit from the Senate race may be just the first of several announcements from Democratic hopefuls who can’t realistically hope to compete against the former two-term Governor of Colorado.