Everyone viewed Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter as the man to beat in the Democratic Governor’s race primary. Yesterday’s numbers posted by former state Sen. Michael Johnston – $625,000 for his first fundraising haul – shows that Democrats should not underestimate him.

Johnston’s team hasn’t released details of the fundraising quarter – the full report is due on April 17. The funds he raised came from 2,500 donors and none came from political action committees as he’s pledged not to take PAC money. Johnston claims it’s the most ever raised by a candidate in a quarter outside an election year, and that may be true.  According to Johnston, his team also is building an impressive campaign infrastructure.

Nonetheless, it might help to put this in context. Johnston’s numbers are great, but he’s the only credible Democrat in the race at this point and Perlmutter also will build an impressive campaign team and post impressive fundraising numbers. And both will run full speed into Republicans’ wall of candidates. With businessmen like Kent Thiry and Victor Mitchell rumored to be throwing millions of their own dollars into their races and fundraising superstar Walker Stapleton likely to jump into the race, suddenly Johnston’s $625,000 haul seems inadequate.

But congratulations to Johnston on upping the game for the Democratic primary. We would love nothing more than a highly-competitive Democratic primary that leaves all candidates bruised.