DENVER – Democratic State Sen. Mike Johnston will be the first Democrat to throw his hat into the ring for the 2018 primary for his party’s bid for the governorship Tuesday.
His campaign announced Monday that Johnston, a Vail native whose term as a state senator ended earlier this month because of term limits, will run. He is among the younger and more high-profile Democrats in Colorado’s political landscape.
He has represented Colorado’s 33rd district, which covers northeastern Denver, since he won appointment to replace Peter Groff in 2009 when Groff took a job in the Department of Education.
He won re-election in 2010 and again in 2012 with a large majority of the vote.
In his time in office, Johnston has said he’s most proud of several education bills he backed that were eventually signed into law, including the Colorado READ Act and ASSET Bill, which allowed undocumented students who attend and graduate from Colorado high schools to pay instate tuition at state colleges and universities.
A two-time graduate of Yale (B.A. and J.D.) who also got his Master’s in education policy at Harvard, Johnston had spent much of his time before becoming a senator in education as well.
He worked under John Schnur and Tom Strickland on their education policy, and eventually became principal at the Joan Farley Academy and Marvin Foote Detention Center.
He moved on to teach education law at the University of Denver Law School and founded Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts in Thornton, which was highlighted by Barack Obama during his first campaign.
He then joined Obama’s campaign as an informal advisor, but eventually became among the top advisor’s on education
He has also been named to Forbes’ “7 Most Powerful Educators” list and Time’s “40 under 40” list.
Current Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s term is up in 2018, and the Democratic primary will be among the first open Democratic primaries for the governorship in more than a decade.
Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg has already announced his candidacy, and former interior secretary Ken Salazar, Rep. Ed Perlmutter and former state treasurer Cary Kennedy all have had their names floated as possibly running as well.