Saying he's never seen a more promising candidate, former Gov. Dick Lamm on Tuesday endorsed Democrat Mike Johnston to be Colorado's next governor.
Lamm, a Democrat, said he's backing Johnston because he believes the former state senator from Denver is the candidate who can best steer the state toward "thoughtful growth paired with protection of natural resources and advancement of public education," according to a release from the Johnston campaign.
Johnston is one of five leading Democrats running for the office held by term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper. Others in the primary include U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and plastics manufacturer and civic leader Noel Ginsburg. Lamm is the first former governor to make an endorsement in the race.
"I have never seen a candidate with more promise. Not one," Lamm said in a statement. "Mike has brains, dedication and the skills to make a lasting impression on Colorado and the nation. Mike is in politics for all the right reasons."
"Mike has the rare ability to move people to action," Lamm continued. "We nod and agree with many politicians but ... he is truly inspiring. We have the chance to elect an inspiring, dynamic, motivated governor."
Lamm, 82, rose to prominence as a leader of the opposition to holding the 1976 Winter Olympics in Denver. During and after his three terms as governor in the 1970s and 1980s - before term limits - Lamm was known for tapping the brakes on Colorado's rapid growth and for raising questions about the allocation of scarce public resources, particularly involving spending on health care. He's led discussions on those themes as a co-director of the University of Denver's Institute for Public Policy Studies.
"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 statement. "I will work hard to carry on the legacy of public service and follow many of the examples Gov. Lamm set."
Johnston has also been endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, who was first elected statewide in 1974, the same year as Lamm.