DENVER – Mike Johnston, the former state senator and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate , became the fourth Democrat to announce they were throwing their hat into the ring in an effort to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in the 2020 general election.
“I’m Mike Johnston. I’ve spent my career as a teacher, and a principal and a state senator running at our hardest problems. Donald Trump and Cory Gardner have both failed to do that. That’s why, today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the U.S. Senate, and I hope you join us,” Johnston said in an announcement Thursday morning.
Johnston is the highest-profile Democrat to announce a run against Gardner so far. He took third in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary after he and his political action committee brought in nearly $10 million total in campaign contributions – including from gun control conduit Michael Bloomberg.
He spent two terms as a state senator and is also a former teacher and principal. He also worked as an adviser to former President Barack Obama. On his Senate campaign website, he also touts passing measures as a lawmaker related to undocumented students, renewable energy and gun control.
Johnston’s announcement came a day after Gardner told the Independent Journal Review that he would support President Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020 despite the president’s growing unpopularity and his being defeated by 5 percentage points in Colorado by Hillary Clinton in 2016. Democrats also won the major statewide races in Colorado in 2018 and took the state Senate back from Republicans in what political analysts and lawmakers said was a referendum against Trump.
Gardner did not support Trump in the 2016 primaries and rescinded an endorsement of Trump while he was the party’s nominee after the Access Hollywood tape was released, in which Trump talked about sexually assaulting women. And though he was the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for Trump’s first two years in office, he has on occasion broken with the president – particularly on marijuana-related issues.
Johnston joins Lorena Garcia, Trish Zornio and Keith Pottratz as the Democratic candidates who have so far declared for the seat. Gardner's seat is already expected to be one of the most-hotly contested races in the country in 2020.