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Former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm on Tuesday endorsed Vail native and former Denver state Sen. Mike Johnston in his run for governor.
“As my family and I travel to all 64 counties to bring unifying leadership to our whole state, I am proud to say I have earned the support of Coloradans at every level of politics.,” Johnston’s campaign emailed on Tuesday. “Today, I became the only candidate to have the endorsement of a former governor of Colorado.”
Lamm, a Democrat and former state representative, served three terms as governor from 1975 to 1987. Now term limits allow for only two four-year terms, which is why current Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is stepping down at the end of the year.
“I have never seen a candidate with more promise. Not one,” Lamm said of Johnston. “I enthusiastically endorse Mike Johnston for governor. Mike has the rare ability to move people to action. We nod and agree with many politicians but with Mike Johnston we say ‘Let Us March!’ He is truly inspiring. We have the chance to elect an inspiring, dynamic, motivated governor.”
Lamm, 82, still teaches at the University of Denver, where he’s co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies.
He rode an anti-Olympics crusade to prominence in the early 1970s, opposing the expenditure of public funds after the International Olympic Committee awarded Denver the 1976 Winter Olympics. Largely, Lamm was focused on slowing growth in order the protect the state’s environment.
To this day, Colorado is only place awarded the Games that has gone on to reject them when voters opposed funding. Innsbruck, Austria, instead wound up hosting. Beaver Creek was conceived as a venue for those Olympics, but it would not open until 1980 as it went through a rigorous environmental review.
With the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics kicking off this week, it’s worth noting that Lamm does not regret opposing the 1976 Games, nor does he necessarily oppose a future Colorado bid if the funding is realistic and the Games come with infrastructure fixes for Colorado’s overburdened interstate system.
Johnston, 43, was born in 1974 just as Lamm was on the rise. Johnston grew up in Vail, where his late father Paul, a lodge owner, was at one time the mayor.
“It is humbling to be endorsed by a visionary who did so much for Colorado, and who worked particularly hard to protect our environment and women’s health,” Johnston said in a prepared statement. “I will work hard to carry on the legacy of public service and follow many of the examples Gov. Lamm set.”
Other prominent Democrats seeking the nomination to replace Hickenlooper include U.S. Jared Polis, former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy and current Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, a former healthcare executive who owns a home in Vail.