George Brauchler, currently the 18th Judicial District District Attorney, has suspended his 2018 run for Colorado governor in favor of pursuing the office of state attorney general that was opened up by AG Cynthia Coffman's own gubernatorial bid.
This strategy shift has been rumored since Coffman's announcement last week, but it was confirmed in an email blast sent out by Brauchler's campaign this morning. The complete text is shared here, but an excerpt reads: "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. That commitment remains just as strong as we make this important change."
In Brauchler's interview with Westword about running for governor, published in April, we asked him why he'd decided to make a bid to become Colorado's chief executive after steering clear of runs for that office as well as the U.S. Senate on multiple previous occasions. Here's that exchange:
Westword: There have been a number of times over the years when your name has been floated for either the U.S. Senate or the governor's office. Why was this the right time for you?
George Brauchler: To go backwards and talk about why the other two didn't work is, I think, a good place to start. The first time [in June 2013] was right after I took to the west steps of the Capitol and was very vocal in my criticism of the governor's decision to punt on the sentence that convicted mass murderer Nathan Dunlap had the month before....
At the end of the day, though, I decided "no" [not to run for governor in 2014]. I had just made a big decision [to seek the death penalty against James Holmes for the 2012 Aurora theater shooting], and it set the office on a certain path. This was my duty. I had to do it. It didn't make sense for me to put political ambition above that. So I said "no" and moved on to that.
Then we got to right after the trial, and my phone started blowing up with people saying, "You should think about running against Bennet. You should think about running for the U.S. Senate." So I did due diligence. I talked to smart people who've run big campaigns, I sat down and talked with Cory Gardner, my wife talked to his wife. We got pretty far down the field. And then at the end of the day, you sit alone driving and start thinking to yourself, "Do I want to get up early every Monday morning and drive to the airport and fly to Washington, D.C., spend the week there away from my family, come back and then spend the weekends moving around the state fundraising?"
I also started saying to people around me who were pushing me to do it, "Okay, tell me the last, bestest thing the U.S. Senate did for the United States." And people struggled. They were, like, "Well...." Most of the things they came up with were things the Senate had blocked from President Obama. Now, I'm not saying those things don't have value. But I thought, I'm going to give up all this stuff about Colorado and my family to have been, at the end of the day, a delaying tactic? No, thank you. It didn't make any sense, because I wanted to stay here.
Fast-forward to now, and we're in a place where the timing is different. This is a job that would leave me here, in this state. I would live at home. I would be able to do the business of the job while still living at home, while living in Parker. I would be able to play at least a decently active role in my kids' lives. I think I would be able to do great things for the State of Colorado, and we're at a place where I think that matters as much as it ever has.
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Despite having high name recognition thanks to his prosecution of James Holmes for the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, Brauchler never managed to get much traction in the governor's race. His highest-profile endorsement came from rocker Ted Nugent, and his chances seemed to ebb with each big-name Republican entry into the contest — among them Colorado treasurer Walker Stapleton, former congressman Tom Tancredo and Coffman.
The latest move is certainly pragmatic. Brauchler instantly becomes the favorite to succeed Coffman — and the position gives him the opportunity to further build his profile and base in advance of a possible gubernatorial redo down the line.
We've put in a call to Brauchler's campaign in regard to the new developments and will update this post if and when a representative gets back to us. In the meantime, here's Brauchler's statement:
The Colorado I am about to turn over to my four great children is incredibly different from the one I inherited from my parents a little more than four decades ago. This past April, my family and I made the profound decision to do something about it. The best — perhaps only — opportunity to keep Colorado from becoming California and to make our great state even greater was to try to take back the leadership of state government after twelve years of having a Governor of Denver. Republicans would have the ability to impact government positively in each of the four statewide offices — Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Governor for the first time in many, many years and just when Colorado needs it most.
We announced our run for Governor and asked for your support. We have traveled the state multiple times, earning support the way a grassroots Coloradan does: kitchen to kitchen, parade to parade, handshake to handshake, answering all questions and listening to important issues. Because of you, we have been everywhere. Because of you, we have defied the odds. Because of you, we have won every straw poll – from the Western Conservative Summit, to the Arapahoe Tea Party, to the Colorado Federation of Women – by huge numbers. Because of you, we were the only campaign to earn contributions from every one of Colorado’s 64 counties by the time we reported our very first fundraising totals. Along the way, we remained undaunted as the campaign watched the addition of more and more candidates. Any day now, I expect John Elway, Todd Helton, Wonder Woman, and Santa Claus to jump into this race. In fact, if you’re reading this, you have a 1-in-7 chance of running for Governor of Colorado.
Several days ago, something significant changed, and it is why I write to you now.
Last week — less than one year before the general election — the incumbent Attorney General announced that she would not be seeking to defend that critical position. 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. 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 departure of the incumbent Attorney General makes that a very real possibility.
Last Wednesday, my phone and email began to blow up with concerns from friends, supporters, members of the business community and others for Colorado’s possible future with an extreme progressive Governor and a like-minded activist Attorney General. I have been humbled by the many statements encouraging me to step away from the Governor’s race and take on the difficult task of mounting the defense of this pivotal position with less than a year on the campaign calendar and piles of money already raised by those seeking to take this office in a drastically new direction. I have been asked to redirect my passion for improving Colorado as Governor to instead protecting Colorado by fighting for the position of Attorney General.
I have made the decision to suspend my pursuit of our state’s Governorship and to announce my candidacy for Attorney General of the State of Colorado. This decision was neither easy nor obvious. Many of my thoughts have been about you, my family, and the others impacted by this decision.
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. That commitment remains just as strong as we make this important change.
It has been an honor to have your support and selfless dedication to our campaign for Colorado as Governor. It would be an honor to know that I still have your support.
Let’s go win this thing.