Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is contributing $1 million dollars to an independent expenditure committee that will support the Colorado gubernatorial candidacy of Mike Johnston, a former Democratic state senator.
A spokesman for Bloomberg told ColoradoPolitics.com, which first broke the news of the donation, that Johnston's stance on gun control played a major factor in the decision.
"Mike Johnston stands out as an extremely effective leader in reducing gun violence," Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser told the outlet.
"We need people like him in office now more than ever to push for common-sense gun safety measures."
The fundraising boost to Johnson—indirect though it is via an independent expenditure—comes about two weeks after a non-binding preference poll in the state Democratic caucus showed Johnson a distant third with 9 percent of the vote. U.S. Representative Jared Polis, presumed by many to be the front runner for the Democratic nomination, was second with 33 percent of the vote, and former state treasurer Cary Kennedy placed first with 50 percent.
Bloomberg has injected himself into Colorado politics.
Lawmakers in Colorado debated controversial new gun control legislation in 2013 in reaction to the Aurora theater massacre, including a 15 round limit on magazine capacity and tougher requirements on background checks.
Phone records of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, showed two conversations with Bloomberg that year, both during the legislative session, with one of those conversations coming on the day before Hickenlooper would sign the magazine limit and other measures into law.
When confronted by a group of county sheriffs later about the conversations with Bloomberg, Hickenlooper said, "Well, lets, let's stick to the facts. I never talked to Mayor Bloomberg. I … Again, that's been out in the press and all this stuff. Just for the record. You know, I met Mayor Bloomberg when I was a mayor, and I know him, uh, I think he's a pretty good mayor."
Hickenlooper later walked back his claim of never having spoken to Bloomberg.
The eventual passage of the new gun control restrictions resulted in the recall of two state senators who had supported the legislation, the first-ever successful recall of a state-level official.
Bloomberg gave heavily to the anti-recall efforts, and appeared to lash out after their loss, saying that the two lawmakers came from areas of the state—Colorado Springs and Pueblo—that were so rural they didn't have paved roads.
"In Colorado, we got a law passed," Bloomerg told Rolling Stone. "The NRA went after two or three state senators in a part of Colorado where I don't think there's roads. It's as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I'm sorry for that. We tried to help 'em. But the bottom line is, the law is on the books, and being enforced. You can get depressed about the progress, but on the other hand, you're saving a lot of lives."
Johnston's anti-gun platform includes "better enforcement" of the new 15 round limit on magazine capacity, and he is calling for a ban of bump stocks.
The Colorado Senate on Tuesday nixed a ban on bump stocks, passing a bill that would repeal the magazine capacity limits. The repeal of magazine capacity limits is unlikely to progress further; Colorado's senate operates with a narrow one-person majority for Republicans, and Democrats have a solid hold on the house.
Johnson's candidacy has also drawn the attention of other non-Colorado luminaries, such as Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Colorado's primary is scheduled for late June.
UPDATE 11:45 A.M.: Mike Johnston is a former, not current, Colorado state legislator.