Election 2018News

Democrat Amy Padden drops out of AG’s race, endorses primary rival Phil Weiser

Author: Ernest Luning - April 24, 2018 - Updated: April 24, 2018

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Former state and federal prosecutor Amy Padden accepts her nomination for Colorado Attorney General during the 2018 Colorado Democratic State Assembly at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield on April 14, 2018.Former state and federal prosecutor Amy Padden accepts her nomination for Colorado Attorney General during the 2018 Colorado Democratic State Assembly at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield on April 14, 2018.
Photo by Andy Colwell for the Gazette

Democrat Amy Padden, a former state and federal prosecutor, on Tuesday suspended her campaign for attorney general and threw her support in the primary behind Phil Weiser.

“It is not because I am afraid of the fight ahead – I have never backed away from a fight and never will,” she said in a statement. “But I have decided that it is best if I carry on this fight in a different way.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced that Denver attorney Brad Levin didn’t submit enough petition signatures to qualify for the June 26 primary ballot, falling more than 1,500 signatures short of the 10,500 he needed to collect statewide.

Levin sued to overturn the state’s petition process on constitutional grounds earlier this month, but he withdrew that lawsuit and intends to file a new one, sources close to his campaign told Colorado Politics.

That leaves two Democrats running for the seat held by Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who mounted an unsuccessful campaign for governor rather than seek a second term.

Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, won top line on the primary ballot at the party’s state assembly with 53 percent of delegate votes. State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, also qualified for the ballot, winning 37 percent — above the 30 percent required to advance to the primary.

Padden also went through the assembly process, although she barely cleared 10 percent of the vote. While it wasn’t enough to get her on the ballot, it was just sufficient that she could still petition on — but on Tuesday Padden notified Secretary of State Wayne Williams she was withdrawing petitions she submitted a month ago, which were in the process of being verified by election officials.

On the GOP side, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler is the uncontested nominee.

In a statment endorsing Weiser, Padden said she’s been impressed on the campaign trail with her primary rival’s demonstration of “the discipline and focus that a great Attorney General must have” and lauded the time Weiser spent with his young children during the tense state assembly.

“While I have great affection for the passion of Joe Salazar and great admiration for the nearly four decades of legal excellence of Brad Levin, as Democrats, we cannot afford a divisive primary,” Padden said.

Noting that she worked in the office under Coffman’s predecessor, Republican John Suthers, Padden added that Weiser was “best positioned” to running the kind of “fair and impartial office” overseen by Suthers, who was elected mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.