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At Dougherty’s urging, Dem AG candidates mull holding forums in every judicial district in Colorado

Author: Ernest Luning - November 7, 2017 - Updated: November 6, 2017

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Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty visits at the Denver Democratic Party's annual Edward M. Kennedy dinner on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at the Mariott Denver Downtown. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Democratic attorney general candidate Michael Dougherty visits at the Denver Democratic Party’s annual Edward M. Kennedy dinner on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, at the Mariott Denver Downtown. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

The Democrats running for Colorado attorney general are moving toward scheduling forums in all of the state’s judicial districts before next year’s primary in response to a suggestion by prosecutor Michael Dougherty, one of the five candidates in the race.

“The forums are going to allow voters to learn who has the experience and vision for the office, and who can win the general election for the Democratic Party,” Dougherty told Colorado Politics.

Colorado is divided into 22 judicial districts, each including between one and seven counties and each electing a district attorney.

Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has been raising money to run for a second term but has also said she’s considering a run for governor.

Dougherty, the assistant district attorney for the 1st Judicial District — that’s Jefferson and Gilpin counties — said he issued the challenge last month after four of the candidates participated in a lively forum sponsored by the Boulder County Progressives at the Boulder Public Library.

“It is my hope that all Coloradans will have an opportunity to hear from us directly about our experience, qualifications, and vision for the attorney general’s office,” Dougherty wrote in a letter to the other candidates. “With so much attention focused on the governor’s race, we must do our part to raise public awareness and attention for what I believe is the most important race for our state.”

Three of his primary rivals — state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, former CU Law School Dean Phil Weiser and former federal prosecutor Amy Padden — have agreed to the proposal if the forums can be scheduled. Denver Attorney Brad Levine, the fifth candidate, hasn’t said whether he’ll take part in the forums and didn’t respond to emails from Colorado Politics.

With more than seven months remaining until the June 26 primary, campaign officials said they’re hopeful they can get the forums scheduled. There’s already one on the calendar — Dec. 9 on the eastern plains in Yuma, which is in the 13th Judicial District.

In addition to the forum in Boulder last month, the Democrats have already held held attorney general forums in Colorado Springs and Denver, potentially scratching three more judicial districts off the list.

It’s been 32 years since there’s even been a Democratic primary for attorney general. In 1986, Tom Bastien prevailed over John Kintzele only to lose to the Republican incumbent, Duane Woodard, in November. (Woodward became a Democrat the next year and was denied a third term by Republican Gale Norton.)

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. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


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