Election 2018LawMediaNews

Attorney general’s race divides Colorado’s newspapers

Author: Joey Bunch - October 31, 2018 - Updated: October 31, 2018

Brauchler-WeiserDemocrat Phil Weiser, at left, and Republican George Brauchler debate during a debate sponsored by Colorado Politics at the Penrose House in Colorado Springs on Oct. 13. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)

If elections were decided by newspaper editorial boards, Republican George Brauchler would be Colorado’s next attorney general by the narrowest divide.

He has seven of the 13 official endorsements so far over his Democratic rival Phil Weiser ahead of next Tuesday’s general election.

> RELATED: More Colorado newspapers make endorsements in governor’s race

Here are how the state opinion scribes sized up the candidates:

The Gazette of Colorado Springs: Brauchler

“Colorado needs a seasoned, in-the-trenches lawyer to serve as the state’s attorney general. Few could be better prepared than George Brauchler, the district attorney for Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.

“In everything from protecting the public from consumer fraud to protecting clean water and air, we rely on an attorney general who knows how to fight and win in court.

“Democratic nominee Phil Weiser would begin his first day on the job with almost no experience practicing law. Throughout his career, spent mostly in academia, the former University of Colorado Law School dean litigated six cases.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

The Aspen Times: Weiser

“George Brauchler is a letter-of-the- law candidate who has an impressive background as a prosecutor running a large office as the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District and serving the country in the Army National Guard. In our meeting with Brauchler, we discussed how he became well known outside his district for his work and seeking the death penalty for the man who killed 12 people in the Aurora theater shooting.

“We respect Brauchler’s past work in and outside of the courtroom, but we think Weiser’s approach is best to take on the administration’s random attacks on the Affordable Care Act and veiled threats of removing DACA for Dreamers, which is something near to the valley.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

La Prensa de Colorado: Brauchler

“Brauchler’s experience in the Court, would serve him well as Attorney General. And as a District Attorney, Brauchler certainly has administrative experience in managing a large legal office.

“Brauchler also recognizes the importance of focusing his attention on all parts of Colorado, not just the Denver metropolitan area. He is interested in decentralizing the office to locate part of his staff in communities throughout the state, to advise and assist local officials.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

The Coloradoan: Brauchler

“Brauchler might not be an activist attorney general if elected, looking to jump into courtroom fights to score political points. But we believe he would provide sound legal advice to the governor and the Legislature while focusing his staff on protecting the rights and safety of Colorado residents.

“The board was not unanimous in supporting Brauchler. Members appreciated Weiser’s thoughtful and analytical approach to answering questions and his interest in holding the federal government to following its own laws.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

Aurora Sentinel: Weiser

“There is no doubt that Colorado will be doing legal battle in the near future with the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress on issues regarding open lands, legal marijuana, water, elections, energy, gas and oil production, environmental safety, greenhouse gases, pharmaceuticals, internet speed and access, consumer data protection, technology advancement and development, and sooner rather than later, immigration.

“Both Weiser and Brauchler have made it perfectly clear each is adamant about setting aside partisan and personal considerations when it comes to defending the state’s voters, residents, legislature, autonomy and interests. And we believe both would do commendable jobs at that.

“It’s clear, however, that Weiser’s superior experience in constitutional and policy law is a winning trait, having practiced and taught it. It makes him the person you’d want guiding which legal tactics and arguments to use in cases against the federal government or against big corporations.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

Durango Herald: Brauchler

“As district attorney for Colorado’s 18th Judicial District, composed of nearly a million people, Brauchler deals with the nuts and bolts of our judicial system on a daily basis. He has been a hands-on prosecutor, public defender and defense lawyer for 24 years.

“Weiser’s work for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Byron White, his service in the Department of Justice under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and his leadership as dean of the CU Law School have been justly praised.

“But we find his approach to Colorado’s needs more distant, while Brauchler’s ideas, including addressing the state’s ‘urban/rural divide’ by putting more manpower in rural areas of the state, are more practical.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

Salida Mountain Mail: Brauchler

“Now the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District serving Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, Mr. Brauchler sees laws for what they are, not for how they might be interpreted toward one policy or another. A Colorado Army National Guard colonel who advises NORAD on legal matters, he sought the death penalty against the man who killed 12 in the Aurora theater. James Holmes was ultimately sentenced to life.

Read the endorsement by clicking here.

Boulder Daily Camera: Weiser

“The next attorney general is expected to play an important role in areas that could significantly impact the lives of Coloradans. These include reproductive rights, oil and gas development, LGBTQ rights and marijuana laws. Weiser has committed to fight for the rights promised by Roe v. Wade, which under the newly constituted U.S. Supreme Court are in jeopardy. He does not support Proposition 112 (nor does Brauchler), which would allow for 2,500-foot oil and gas drilling setbacks, a measure this page endorsed, but Weiser says he would create a special unit in the attorney general’s office “to support and counsel local governments in their negotiations and dealings with oil and gas companies.” That position points at least in the right direction — toward greater local control over fossil fuel operations in neighborhoods.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

The Pueblo Chieftain: Brauchler

“Brauchler is a Republican, but he doesn’t see the attorney general’s job as a particularly partisan one. He vowed to represent his clients in all cases that are legally and constitutionally sound, regardless of whether he agrees with their underlying policy objectives or not.

“Frankly, we’re worried that his Democratic opponent, Phil Weiser, might not share that approach. During his primary campaign, Weiser ran advertisements citing his intent to oppose the policies of President Donald Trump.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.


RELATED: Election Preview 2018 | Colorado governor candidates on the issues


The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Weiser

“Make no mistake, Brauchler is a capable administrator overseeing a large staff of prosecutors and he’s implemented some impressive programs in his judicial district. We like his idea of putting more of the AGs resources in rural parts of the state. He would make a fine attorney general.

“We think Weiser would make a better one, however. And he has ideas of his own on how the office can assist the Legislature with broadband deployment and other issues facing rural Colorado.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.


Greeley Tribune: Brauchler

“Indeed, in addition to the merits of his wide-ranging 24-year legal career, his keen sense of the value of public service recommends him for this job. In his current role as district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, he represents 1 million residents and can see firsthand the intersection of law and public policy.

“’Running for attorney general is a chance for me to protect what’s best about Colorado,’ he said during an hour-long interview with The Tribune Editorial Board. He drew an analogy to his experience as a district attorney, which requires a partisan election to get into office. ‘But once you get there, there’s no Republican victims. There are no Democrat constituents. There are only Coloradans.’

“We think Brauchler has the right background and the right approach to be Colorado’s next attorney general.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.


Boulder Weekly: Weiser

“Weiser would likely be what his opponent, George Brauchler, currently the District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District (Arapahoe, Douglas and other counties), calls an “activist” Attorney General. We’re OK with that. Weiser says he’d be willing to sue the federal government to protect the Affordable Care Act, keep pharmaceutical companies from perpetuating the opioid epidemic, and ensure consumer rights. Weiser says he’ll defend communities that refuse to follow Department of Homeland Security directives regarding immigration. Weiser would also work to revise our criminal justice system, aiming to rehabilitate those in our state’s prison system, and provide alternative sentencing for those dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues.

“Brauchler and his supporters have branded the Attorney General race as ‘prosecutor (Brauchler) versus professor (Weiser).’ In fact, although Brauchler has an impressive history of service and criminal justice work, we prefer Weiser’s thoughtful approach to a job that requires much more nuance than that tagline suggests. For a bold Attorney General that’ll stand up for what the majority of Boulder County values, vote for Weiser.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.


The Denver Post: Brauchler

“We have concerns about his opponent Phil Weiser’s commitment to the same. Weiser is also qualified for the office, contrary to the ads running against him.

“But Weiser has broadcast to the public and this board that he would be an activist attorney general putting the pursuit of policy outcomes first.

“In contrast, Brauchler will be an honest arbiter of our laws whether he likes them or not.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.


Colorado Springs Independent: Weiser

“Weiser talks a lot about fighting for consumer protections, particularly for students gouged by predatory lenders, at a time when the federal government is deregulating. He says he’d work to protect provisions of the Affordable Care Act that have allowed thousands of Coloradans to get health insurance. The child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors, he’d battle the federal government’s illegal attacks on law-abiding immigrants and fight to protect DREAMers. As the Trump administration continues to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, Weiser says he’d defend laws that keep our air and water clean, and allow Colorado to continue its good work toward a clean energy future. He also says he’d protect our marijuana industry and options for women’s health care — both targets of the federal government.

“These are strange times. We need an AG that will battle for states’ rights, and stand up for the Colorado we love.”

Read the full endorsement by clicking here.

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.