George Brauchler exits governor’s race, will now run for attorney general

Monday, 13 November 2017, 09:42:13 PM. Republican George Brauchler, once a leading contender for governor, announced Monday he will suspend his campaign and instead enter the race for attorney general.

Republican George Brauchler, once a leading contender for governor, announced Monday he will suspend his campaign and instead enter the race for attorney general.

“My decision to run for office has always been about my commitment to serving Colorado far more than it has been about the title of the elected position,” he said in a written statement. “That commitment remains just as strong as we make this important change.”

Brauchler called the decision “neither easy or obvious,” but the move was expected for days as his pathway to victory in the governor’s race began to dwindle when former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a firebrand and favorite among conservative activists, announced his bid for the state’s top job. And when Attorney General Cynthia Coffman jumped into the race, it left a wide open race to replace her.

The Republican Attorneys General Association immediately issued a statement endorsing Brauchler, a move that showcases the party’s support and fundraising power.

“George Brauchler is exactly the type of leader we need running for public office,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the group’s chair, in a statement. “He is experienced, committed, and driven to service.”

Brauchler, the18th Judicial District attorney and prosecutor of the Aurora theater shooter, won early support from the party faithful, but his bid for governor suffered a shakeup Nov. 1 with the abrupt departure of his campaign manager.

And with so many Republicans running for their party’s nomination in the governor’s race — at least eight have already jumped in — his path to victory in that contest seemed to be slimming.

Other Republicans, like Walker Stapleton and Victor Mitchell, already had amassed larger financial war chests. And the addition of Tancredo made it hard to see Brauchler getting the nomination by lining up the overwhelming support of hard-line conservatives.

Brauchler’s decision comes less than a week after Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a fellow Republican, jumped into the race for governor, vacating the spot as the state’s top law enforcement officer. It’s also yet another shakeup in the crowded and complicated Colorado gubernatorial race.

The roller-coaster contest includes at least five people running on the Democratic side.

“Any day now, I expect John Elway, Todd Helton, Wonder Woman, and Santa Claus to jump into this (governor’s) race,” Brauchler said in his announcement that he’s switching races. “In fact, if you’re reading this, you have a 1-in-7 chance of running for Governor of Colorado.”

Brauchler’s addition to the attorney general’s race is the first among what’s expected to be several Republicans who jump in.

Other GOP members who have expressed interest in running for attorney general include state Rep. Cole Wist of Centennial, and George Leing, who lost in 2014 to Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder.

(Polis is one of the Democrats hoping replace Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2018.)

Democrat Phil Weiser, former dean of the University of Colorado Law School and a one-time Obama administration official who got into the attorney general’s race in May, has already hauled in more than $700,000 in donations.

The four other Democrats running for attorney general have been drawing in tens of thousands of dollars in donations, too.

They include Michael Dougherty, assistant district attorney for the 1st Judicial District in Jefferson and Gilpin counties; Brad Levin, a Denver attorney; Amy Padden, a former state and federal prosecutor; and state Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton.

“Progressives on the other side of the political aisle had spent many months raising mountains of cash to capture the position that plays such a vital role in protecting our state and way of life,” Brauchler said. “The Attorney General is the state’s top attorney, in charge of the state’s largest law firm, and charged with the great responsibility of upholding and defending our laws.  It is a powerful position that must not fall into the hands of someone who would use it to advance extreme ideological positions, to legislate through litigation, or to pick winners and losers in our economy.”

The candidates running as Democrats have said they are generally running on a platform that includes as a central component pushing back against the Trump administration’s policies, on topics from immigration to the environment.

The oil and gas industry is also expected to be a focal point in the attorney general’s race, as well as in the contest for governor.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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