On the road to Broomfield: Democrat Mike Johnston will bypass the state assembly

Mike Johnston

In the race for governor, Colorado’s Democratic state assembly on April 14 in Broomfield will be a showdown between Cary Kennedy and Jared Polis for the votes of roughly 4,000 of the party’s most loyal activists.

Erik Underwood, another Democrat in the running, also plans to attend.

Former State Sen. Mike Johnston today let Democratic Party officials know he won’t be in Broomfield, according to his campaign. “We are no longer planning to participate in the state assembly,” said Johnston spokeswoman Grace Hanover.

She said the campaign is reaching out to delegates who cast ballots for Johnston in the county assemblies and letting them know they should vote however they see fit.

Delegates are the party members who were selected by their peers during the March 6 neighborhood precinct caucuses and advanced again, through their county assemblies, for a chance to cast a ballot at the state assembly in Broomfield next Saturday.  

Democratic candidates trying to get on the June 26 primary ballot have three choices: They can go exclusively through the assembly, like Kennedy and Underwood, or they can gather 1,500 valid petition signatures in each congressional district like Polis, Johnston, and Colorado’s Democratic lieutenant governor, Donna Lynne. Or they can do both.

Only Polis plans to do both. A campaign spokeswoman said today he will be in Broomfield.

Candidates who show up to the assembly need 30 percent of the vote from the 4,000 delegates in order to make the ballot — unless they have already gathered enough valid petitions. However, if a candidate does not get 10 percent of the vote, that candidate can’t be on the ballot even if he or she has enough valid petitions. Each candidate is able to give a speech to the crowd, and then the delegates vote. Underwood will have to crack 30 percent to keep his campaign alive. 

So far, throughout the caucus-and-assembly process, Kennedy has locked up votes from more than 50 percent of delegates, according to her campaign. Polis has about 33 percent of them, his campaign says. Those are unlikely to shift to any large degree, and a small percentage of delegates will head to the assembly uncommitted

Since March 6, Johnston has been showing up and giving speeches at county assemblies, but he hasn’t caught fire with the delegates to the extent that Kennedy and Polis have. 

Lynne skipped the county assemblies since she determined to go the petition route.

On March 19, she became the third Democrat to turn in petitions and handed in nearly 25,000 of them— more than twice the amount, a spokesman told media. It could be another few weeks before the Secretary of State’s office finishes its review and tells her campaign if she has enough valid petitions to make the ballot. Johnston’s campaign in mid-March turned in about 22,500 petitions and made the June 26 ballot. But 44 percent of his petitions were invalid.

Democratic voters can sign petitions for as many candidates as they want, but their signature will only count for the candidate who turns their petitions in first, meaning Johnston and Polis’s signature list will count against Lynne’s.

Lynne, Johnston, and Underwood are scheduled are scheduled to speak at a luncheon for a Denver society of security and financial analysts on Thursday.

Photo by Corey Hutchins