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PRIMARY 2018: State Rep. Joe Salazar concedes attorney general nomination to Phil Weiser

Author: Joey Bunch - June 30, 2018 - Updated: July 2, 2018

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WeiserPhil Weiser, former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, speaks at the state Democratic Assembly in Broomfield in April.
(Photo by Andy Colwell/Colorado Politics)

Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar conceded the Democratic nomination for attorney general to Phil Weiser on Saturday.

Weiser takes the victory by less than 1 percent, separated by 5,136 votes out of 590,960 cast, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Secretary of State’s Office has been counting votes in the narrow race since Tuesday’s primary.

Salazar said in a press release Saturday that he had called Weiser to congratulate him in the close two-man primary.

“He ran a great campaign in a tough race,” Salazar state in a statement Saturday. “We’ve started a lot of conversations about the importance of the attorney general’s office, how to ensure equity and justice are priorities of our elected officials, and about the future of the Democratic party.”

Weiser, the former University of Colorado law school dean, raised more than 10 times the donations of the state representative from Thornton. Weiser also enjoyed Democratic establishment endorsements, including Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Colorado attorney general, U.S. senator and Obama Cabinet member Ken Salazar.

The Democratic nominee will take on Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, the lone Republican candidate after incumbent Cynthia Coffman opted to run for governor. She was bumped out of the race at the GOP state assembly in April.

Salazar continued, “I have been so lucky in this campaign. My family has been incredibly supportive of my run, and has made huge sacrifices for this campaign. I have the best staff a candidate could ask for. Our team went up against millions of dollars and institutional power, and their hard work brought us to one of the closest margins in Colorado attorney general history.”

He thanked his supporters. “Today is a victory for grassroots power.”

In response to a tweet by Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning announcing Salazar’s concession, Weiser responded:

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) pounced quickly on Brauchler’s newly minted opponent Saturday, however.

“Dean Phil Weiser called in favors from his well-connected and powerful establishment friends to win this nomination,” RAGA executive director Scott Will said in the statement. “The elites from Boulder and Washington, D.C., bought this race for Weiser and now he owes them.

“The worst part, the law school dean and Democratic political appointee has hardly any courtroom experience and he has never prosecuted a single criminal case. Weiser is utterly unqualified for the job. His victory will be short-lived. Dean Weiser’s campaign is broke and limping into the general election.”

The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), naturally, took the other side.

“We know there is energy in Colorado to see the office of attorney general swing back to blue, and we know that Weiser will work tirelessly to protect the people of Colorado and put their needs first,” Sean Rankin, DAGA’s executive director stated.

DAGA said polling and internal research gave it reason to be hopeful.

“The truth is that Phil Weiser will beat George Brauchler, a candidate who fails to rise about the level of generic Republican, at the ballot box in November,” Rankin said. “There is no such ‘swing to the left’ as the Republican Attorneys General Association tries to sell.”

“Instead in Phil Weiser, there is a candidate who appeals to Democrats, Independents and even moderate Republicans.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.