FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2019, file photo, then Democratic presidential candidate former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, in Des Moines, Iowa. Former Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper said Thursday, Aug. 22, that he will run for the U.S. Senate, becoming the immediate front-runner in a crowded Democratic field vying for the right to challenge Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Leading Democrat ends Senate bid now that Hickenlooper is in

September 03, 2019 - 1:06 pm

DENVER (AP) — A leading candidate in the crowded Colorado Senate Democratic primary is ending his campaign.

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston becomes the first casualty of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's late entry into the race. Hickenlooper last month dropped his presidential bid and instead announced he wanted to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner, seen as the nation's most vulnerable Republican senator.

Johnston had raised $3.4 million, more money than Hickenlooper raised for his presidential campaign. But Hickenlooper dominates among the more establishment wing of the Democratic Party and has high name recognition in the state.

In a statement Tuesday, Johnston said he realizes now that winning the primary would require "an expensive and negative campaign." He said he wasn't willing to do that.

There are still 11 Democrats in the primary.