Former Colorado state Sen. Mike Johnston has announced he's running for governor in 2018.
He's the first to join what's expected to be a long list of Democratic politicians throwing their hats in the ring to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper at the end of his second term.
Johnston is a former principal and Obama education adviser who has been active on Colorado school issues. He says he has a record of working across the aisle to expand opportunity.
Before a state tour over the next few days, Johnston made his announcement in Denver on Tuesday morning, touching on what he called "Frontier Fairness."
"Colorado was built on a sense of ‘frontier fairness.’ That hard work under the right conditions leads to opportunity, that opportunity allows us to define our own future. It’s time to make real the sense of Frontier Fairness that will carry us through the next 150 years," he said.
There hasn't been a truly open Democratic gubernatorial primary in Colorado for a decade. Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg has already announced. Other candidates could include former interior secretary Ken Salazar, Rep. Ed Perlmutter and former state treasurer Cary Kennedy.
Johnston sat down with Kyle Clark for Next, to discuss the biggest issues facing Colorado, working with President Donald Trump and a failed Amendment 66 -- a nearly billion-dollar tax increase for education, which Johnston was a proponent of, that failed 2-1 in 2013.
Here's an excerpt from our interview. The full thing is below.
KC: What strikes you as the single-biggest problem facing our state?
MJ: I think the single-largest problem facing our state is how we're going to keep up with a rapidly changing economy, which is how we make sure folks are able to upscale and re-scale to get prepared as industries and the economy changes overnight. I think that some of the frustration and the fear we've seen around the state is, 'What happens if the industry my grandfather and my father was in, and I'm in, disappears?'
KC: What is it that Coloradans need to hear but don't want to hear?
MJ: The rapid changes of automation and globalization are going to affect all of our industries. Even yours and mine, Kyle. We've seen a lot of the manufacturers, and employers, and coal (miners) and others who have seen big disruption to their economies-- and yes, that's coming for truck drivers and others, it's also coming to all of our professions, which means there is going to be rapid change. It's not going to slow down but accelerate, and we have to be prepared to build a workforce development plan and an economic plan that gets us ahead of this.
KC: You talked repeatedly today about big, bold ideas across Colorado. The biggest and boldest, for which you're probably best known statewide, is Amendment 66... Too big, too bold, or was it a bad idea?
MJ: ...We knew we had a problem we had to solve, which is schools don't have the resources they need. We put together a plan to try to solve that problem and we took it to the voters and the voters said they didn't want it. So what we did was, we heard that feedback and went back to work. The next legislative session, I passed almost a $400 million investment by doing what voters ask - take the resources you can find from the revenue we have to do it.