CampaignWatch. Colorado Election Coverage & The Civil Summit

October 17, 2018

                        Mike Johnston y fotografía familiar. BOC Gold Medalist for Exhibiting Decency, Installing a SmartBrain (aka having his thinking cap on.)
And manifesting honorable ethics ... NOT SELLING OUT

The Mail Out Ballots are destined to hit Colorado mailboxes Wednesday Oct 17. #BOC is celebrating by launching The Inaugural Civil Summit. Each day there will be informal and informative Q & A sessions with Colorado politicians, existing public office holders and thought leaders surrounding hot debate topics such as Proposition 110, Proposition 112 along with individual races from school board to Colorado Senate (the upper house,) General Assembly , Congress up to the crazy Governor's race. 

We're starting with an interview with Democrat Mike Johnston who ran a spirited race being outlasted by the favored and turbo funded Jared Polis.

We reached out to Mike Johnston because of his superb diplomacy, humility, transparency and MJ is still active in civic and community campaigns.

We kicked off the Civil Summit because we trusted Mike Johnston. He will remain more forthcoming since no one is holding his feet to the fire now that  he is out of the race. Some of the best analysts in sports for example are not active players. They have left their jerseys on the field and are unbiased. So today we are proud to have tapped Mike Johnston as today's participant.

BOC Asked:

1. When 28-year-old socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez triumphed over Democratic big-wig Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district. it signaled that there is a sea change, Do you see this game plan or momentum reaching Colorado?


Mike Johnston:
I do see the momentum - we saw it in our campaign and continue to see it now on the trail in the governor’s race supporting Jared Polis. Young people, women and minorities are leading the way not just in grassroots action but as candidates themselves. Right now I’m most excited by the work that I’m getting to do on behalf of the “Fab 5” here in Colorado - 5 progressive women candidates who are running for State Senate and can flip the chamber back to Democratic control.

BOC Asked:

2. What is "dark money" ? ... is it a threat to democracy?

Mike Johnston:
Dark money is a donation to a political campaign that can’t be tracked back to the donor, typically given to 501c4s or the independent expenditure organizations that support candidates. Dark money is a problem. Transparency is critical for a democracy to function well and that applies to political giving.

I was proud during my gubernatorial run to be the candidate with the largest number of donors who gave $50 or less. So many of those folks were people, young and old, who were giving to a campaign for the first time. Their voices and their dollars count and allowing dark money to persist can sideline citizens who don’t happen to be millionaires. I was the only candidate who did not self-finance, did not take PAC money and did take special interest money.


BOC Asked:

3. It seems like one party wants to make it easier to vote and one party wants to make it harder to vote? Why is this ?

Mike Johnston:
My chief inspiration in politics is the civil rights movement and the leadership of Dr. King, Ella Baker, and so many others. Those leaders marched on Selma for voting rights and thanks to their efforts the Voting Rights Act became a critical piece of our civil rights infrastructure.

For our democracy to function, we have to guarantee that our elections are free, open, and fair. That is impossible if we are making it difficult for folks to vote at all. I support measures like pre-registration for teenagers, same-day registration, automatic registration, and Colorado’s own vote-by-mail system that make it easier for citizens to participate and lift their voices. Making it harder for our friends and neighbors to vote doesn’t protect our democracy - it weakens it. I was proud that I led on this in the State Senate to expand voter participation by sponsoring the bill to enable vote by mail, and to stop voter suppression by removing the policy where someone could be considered an inactive voter and removed from the voter rolls.

BOC Asked:

4. Do you think USA is ready for having more parties? We saw Governor Johnson have trouble making the US Presidential debates.


Mike Johnston:
The thing I think we’re seeing around the country and here in Colorado is that people want to be seen and heard - this is true on the right and the left. So much of the dissatisfaction with our parties comes from a sense that parties aren’t channeling the voices and ideas of regular people - they’re just locked in a mortal struggle with each other that benefits elites, at best.

Given the structural advantages of our current parties - their funding, media presence, and control of government - it is exceptionally difficult for other parties to break through. Even if other parties could make it, however, the challenge for those new parties would be one that Republicans and Democrats face now - they have to find a way to work together to solve the toughest problems while responding directly to the voices of people beyond Washington and state houses.

Compromise, collaboration - these can be slow and deeply frustrating. But I believe that democracy at its best is a practice of love on a civic and national level, and that comes to life in our politics in the form of creative problem solving. I think Colorado is uniquely positioned to demonstrate that in part because we are less partisan and more pragmatic than many other places in the country. Nearly a third of registered voters here are unaffiliated and when you talk to those folks what you find is they are often the most politically engaged of anyone - they’re unaffiliated because of a desire to engage in meaningful progress not a desire to escape the hard work of building that progress.

BOC Asked:

5. How do you interpret this movement:

Mike Johnston:
I welcome action that aims to bring that spirit of love into public life, to change our conversation from one of partisan recrimination to one of cooperation and courage. I think the more voices that are committed to that the better, from within or outside the existing parties. I am deeply committed to making sure the Democratic Party radiates that inclusion, collaboration and commitment to getting things done, which I think we have accomplished in many moments in history.

Our instinct as people is to preserve love for those closest to us, and reserve suspicion for everyone else. But the essence of democracy is that it calls on our ability to do something that feels unnatural — to love those who are different than us. To knock the door of a complete stranger, to start a conversation on a street corner, or wear a shirt that proclaims what you believe without fear of being rejected or shame of being ridiculed.

Across history, America’s best advocates have shared this same belief — that democracy is an illogical act of unconditional love, from Lincoln’s call “to bind up the nation’s wounds” to King’s claim that “hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

BOC Asked:
6. It appears that Proposition 112 could be quite a polarizing blood bath in this election cycle. One side is Protect Colorado (a somewhat misleading organization promoting Oil and Gas interests). The other side is Colorado Rising ( a consortium of school districts, elected officials, community groups, students, environmentalists and ordinary folk). Both Polis and Walker appear to be afraid to back Proposition 112, we find this very typical of the 2 party mainstream "system.” Would you be able to comment on this issue?

Mike Johnston:
One of the reasons I support Jared is I know he sees the full picture of the environmental and public health challenges we face. Setbacks are one piece of that; capping orphan wells, moving to renewable energy on the electric grid, and protecting our public lands are others. Jared and I agree that we need larger setbacks around the state. The challenge with Initiative 97 is that it imposes a blanket rule statewide that could actually be counterproductive in some cases. It’s important as a lawmaker to look at the local context - sometimes the right idea in Denver actually creates serious problems on the Western Slope or the Eastern Plains. I saw this on the campaign trail with a bill about licensing child care providers - in theory, it’s designed to ensure that kids are safe in the care of qualified providers. In practice, it has meant that many families can’t access any child care in more rural areas like Jackson County. I agree with Jared that we need larger setbacks statewide; I’m not confident that Proposition 112 is the right tool.



Gold Medalist Mike Johnston 

Best Run Primary Race - circa 2018

Advocacy Coalitions, Citizenship & Street Smarts


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