This week's cover story, "Lethal Election," reports on one of the most keenly fought local contests in Colorado this fall, the race for district attorney in the state's largest judicial district. Since Carol Chambers is term-limited, the winner in the 18th District (which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties) will be the first outsider to take over that office in decades -- and will have to decide whether to pursue the death penalty for suspect James Holmes in the Aurora theater shootings.
Democrat Ethan Feldman and Republican George Brauchler have both stated their support of the death penalty in principle while declining to say what they'd do specifically in the Holmes case, deferring to the current prosecution team and a gag order. But a mention of the case on the Brauchler campaign's Facebook page has drawn ire from the Feldman camp. A former county judge and deputy DA, Feldman claims that Brauchler is "exploiting" the case for political gain.
Brauchler, a former Jefferson County and military prosecutor, has since taken down the comment Feldman found objectionable. Here's a screen capture showing what the hubbub was about:
Feldman takes issue not with the link to a news article dealing with the DA's race and what it might mean for the Holmes prosecution, but with the comment from "George Brauchler for DA" declaring that "George, we need you in office now!" -- implying, in Feldman's view, that Brauchler believes he's the clear choice for the job of convicting Holmes. He notes that Brauchler removed the comment from his Facebook page after Feldman brought it up at one of their many debate forums.
"I mentioned it as a defect in his judgment -- that he was politicizing the case," Feldman says. "It was inept, too. It appears that he posted the comment himself."
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Brauchler responds that he posted the link to the Washington Times article but didn't post the comment below it. He doesn't know who did, he adds, and doesn't know how a comment from a supporter ended up being credited to him. "I pride myself on being a technology guy, but Facebook baffles me sometimes," he says. "It was such a vague comment. It certainly didn't come from me, and I deleted it."
The Republican candidate adds that he's made a point of "treading lightly" in any public discussion of the Holmes case but expects the focus in the race to remain on the case, for obvious reasons. "When you're talking about setting into motion the greatest sanction that a prosecutor can invoke, the death penalty, everything becomes hyper-scrutinized," he says.
Even an enthusiastic comment on a Facebook page.
More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "James Holmes case: Prosecutors given access to his school application, police records."