BREAKING: Mike Johnston Exits Senate Race

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.”

Mike Johnston


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.



28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. JohnInDenverJohnInDenver says:

    here's hoping others will clarify how they see their participation in the race — and can announce a manner of campaigning to offer a choice WITHOUT denigrating other candidates. 

    Meanwhile, if Johnston has campaign cash left over, perhaps he can choose where it can be best used this campaign cycle to boost Democratic chances overall. 

  2. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    So it's now a three-way race: Hick, Romo, Madden.  In all likelihood, just two can get the 30 pct at the convention needed to get on the ballot.  If Madden and Romo combine forces, which one goes forward?

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Flip a coin.

      As far as track records go, it's a close call. Alice has only lost one statewide race but it was in a Democratic wave election cycle. Andrew lost one statewide primary and one CD general election but he was going up against well-funded incumbent in the former and a pseudo-moderate in a GOP wave year in the latter.

      Hick has never lost a race except for that unfortunate presidential run.

  3. kwtreekwtree says:

     Senator Angela Williams has never lost a race in 9 years, is the sitting Senator for SD33, I.e., most of Northeast Denver, with 145,000+ constituents, is known as the small business voice in the Senate. 

    She is African-American, a farm kid who has made it in the city, Chair of the Colorado Black Legislative Caucus, as well as three other legislative committees. In person, she is warm, low-key, and on point. Why are you all in such a hurry to overlook this obviously qualified candidate?

  4. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    Johnston quit? What a wimp. All I've been hearing from the left of the Democratic Party is what a Blue Dog Hick is, and how they need a real Democrat to take on Cory. I thought there was to be no clearing the field for Hick. Oh, well. So much for that plan. Who's out next?

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Well, maybe no clearing the field, but if you read the fine print, there’s nothing prohibiting mass carpet bombing of any opponents? . . . 

      . . . One would have to be the second coming of Tommy not to see, fairly obviously, that Hick’ only abandoned tilting at windmills and entered this race after some number of hefty and concrete assurances from the DSCC, and others, that they would commit to doing everything they could to bring this race to a quick, and unanimous, coronation.

  5. OpenSpace says:

    The field needs to be culled to two

    I suppose Romanoff is the strongest Not-Hick candidate though Baer and Madden seem appealing. Of the three, Madden might have the best shot against the Frack Drinker

  6. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    If readers didn't get to the 5th paragraph of Johnstons' statement, go back and re-read it.

    I wonder what and who convinced him to take one for the team.  The "clearing the field" mindset, dutifully laid out in Johnstons' statement is meant to influence the rest of the field. Please DO NOT forget the moneyed interests at play here. Johnstons' allegiances aren't with schmoes like me. Isn't most of his money from out of state?

    Hickenlooper enjoys the support of some very wealthy and influential people…this is an expression of that influence. 

  7. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Who said the system is rigged? The system allows the well connected and influential to advance their cause through power manuevers based on "relationships", as Johnston put it. It also allows the rank and file voter to see right through the power brokering bullshit.

    The system allows the voter the last word…not the wealthy plutocrat.

    Nope…not rigged.

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Three years ago, your St. Bernard was screaming at the top of his octogenarian lungs that the system was rigged and that was the only way he could have lost to the Whore of Wall St.

      I fully expect him to start that ranting again when loses to Biden or Warren.

  8. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    You defending the whore of Wall St.?



    • RepealAndReplace says:

      That's not what I call her but I would certainly defend Hillary Clinton.

      She was probably the most competent and qualified person to run for president in my lifetime although she made some mistakes in her campaign strategy. She was vilified throughout her career by assholes, starting in 1992 with Pat Buchanan (who called her a Femi-Nazi and a Communist) and Jerry Falwell (who called her a witch and a murder). More recently, she got it from the other end with Bernie and Jill Stein (sorry, Kiwi, but I couldn't help myself there) screaming about her the other far end of ideological spectrum.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        Hillary was the best qualified non-incumbent to seek the presidency since Henry Clay, her fellow secretary of state.  She lost to the worst politician since Benedict Arnold — despite getting three million more votes than he did..

        Yes, this country is crazy.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.