Democrat Phil Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado Law School and Obama administration official, declared on Thursday that he’s running for attorney general in next year’s election, and he’s boasting a powerhouse endorsement out of the gate.
Saying that too many worry government is beholden to wealthy, powerful interests, Weiser, 49, called it a priority to “end the corrupting influence of dark money in politics[,] draw fair districts that promote competitive elections, and prevent voter suppression efforts.”
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — also a former U.S. senator and Colorado attorney general — is among Weiser’s early supporters.
“For almost 20 years, Phil has led the charge to train Colorado’s lawyers of the future, to advocate for them, and to be a champion of inclusiveness,” Salazar said in a statement released by Weiser’s campaign.
The son and grandson of Holocaust survivors — Weiser’s mother was born in a concentration camp and emigrated with her parents to the United States when she was 6 years old — said in a statement he’s been watching the Trump administration “with outrage and with deep concern for the future of our country and our state. Our constitutional and civic tradition of protecting freedom and enabling opportunity — and our Colorado way of life — is now at risk.”
Noting that his wife’s father fled Germany on the last boat of refugees to make it to the United States before World War II, Weiser said, “As people who benefited from our country’s freedom and opportunity, we are inspired to fight for opportunities for all Coloradans and to protect our freedoms as our next attorney general.”
The Republican incumbent, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, has been raising money for a reelection bid but has also said she’s considering a run for governor in 2018. State Rep. Joe Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, announced in March that he’s running for the office.
When he was dean of CU’s law school — a post he held from 2011 until last summer — Weiser won praise for bringing together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, businesses and government officials to create an entrepreneurial mindset among students. He founded the CU Law School’s Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship and serves as the center’s executive director. In addition, he was the founding faculty director for the CU Boulder Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative.
Weiser served as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division during the first year of the Obama administration and a year later was appointed senior advisor for technology and innovation at the White House, where he was in charge of implementing President Obama’s Wireless Initiative.
Jason Furman, one-time chief economist to President Obama, praised Weiser in a statement posted by his campaign.
“Our economy is changing in profound ways and we need leaders in federal and state government who can fight for consumers, challenge monopoly abuses, and advocate for entrepreneurs trying to enter new markets,” Furman said. “Phil is just this type of leader and his experience working for President Obama helped our nation, spearheading a wireless spectrum initiative that made money for the federal government and will support a nationwide and interoperable wireless broadband network for our first responders.”
A graduate of Swarthmore College and the New York University School of Law, Weiser clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and for Judge David Ebel at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Weiser lives in Denver with his wife, Dr. Heidi Wald, a physician and associate professor at the CU School of Medicine, and their two children.