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Vail native Mike Johnston, a former Democratic state senator from Denver, has thrown his hat into the increasingly crowded ring of candidates looking to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who made headlines this week by backing the re-election of President Donald Trump in 2020 despite opposing him in 2016.
“Colorado deserves a U.S. senator who will run to our hardest problems and show the leadership to pass real progressive policy,” Johnston posted on his campaign website, according to a story Thursday on Colorado Politics.
Johnston, who finished third in last year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, behind former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy and eventual general-election winner Jared Polis, is the biggest name to have announced so far in the 2020 U.S. Senate race.
According to Colorado Politics, “previously announced candidates include Trish Zornio, a scientist and educator from Superior; Lorena Garcia of Denver, executive director of Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition; Navy veteran Keith Pottratz of Grand Junction; Denver activist James Blanton; and Denver pharmacist Dustin John Leitzel. Other Democrats — including former House Speaker Crisanta Duran and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff — are expected to launch campaigns in coming months. And John Hickenlooper has been discussed as a potential candidate if he opts against a run for president, though the former governor has maintained that he’s eyeing a White House bid and isn’t considering a Senate campaign.”
Gardner, meanwhile, is taking heat for backing Trump so early in the race after being a “Never Trumper” in 2016. Democrat Hillary Clinton won Colorado by five percentage points in 2016, and the state just saw a massive blue wave in the 2018 midterms.
Gardner told the conservative Independent Journal Review that he’s backing Trump in 2020 because “it’s the right thing to do for Colorado. Look, I’ve made it very clear that where I agree with the president, we will agree, or where I disagree, we will disagree. But I’m going to fight like hell for Colorado, and we’ve done some good things for Colorado. I know what [Democratic presidential candidate and Sen.] Kamala Harris and [2016 and possible 2020 candidate and Sen.] Bernie Sanders] will do to Colorado, and that’s why I’ll be supporting the president.”