David E. Johnson was born July 20, 1947 to Evelyn Irene (Hale) and Frank Tivis Johnson in Hardtner Kansas. His father operated a grain elevator and died when David was two. His mother worked at a department store. He was raised in Enid Oklahoma, attending Enid High School, and excelling as a debater. He went on to the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a degree in journalism. He got involved in politics out of college, working for Ed Muskie’s Presidential campaign. He worked in Muskie’s 1972 “boiler room” and worked on his Intergovernmental Relations Committee from 1972 to 1978, and worked with Al From. He then worked for the Department of Health and Human Services, and as Administrative Assistant to George Mitchell from 1981 to 1984. He later became executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Since 1987, he has worked in a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm.
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Nicoll, Don, "Johnson, David oral history interview" (2001). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 183.