George Brauchler is seeking to trade his 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office for one in the state Capitol. Brauchler, a Republican, is campaigning to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper in the 2018 election.
Citing what he called “ a lack of real leadership at the state level,” Brauchler said he wants to push for a stronger economy and tougher sentences for violent criminals.
“Our governor has spent the last six years being affable,” said Brauchler, who announced his candidacy April 5.
On the heels of Brauchler’s announcement, the race was infused with another big name, this one on the Democratic side. Six-term Congressman Ed Perlmutter made his candidacy for governor official on April 9. Perlmutter, of Golden, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2006. He represent Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, which largely comprises politically diverse Jefferson County.
Brauchler was elected district attorney in 2012 and re-elected after running unopposed in 2016. The 18th Judicial District encompasses Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
He gained nationwide recognition for prosecuting the case against Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, calling the case “the biggest trial in the history of the state.” He said maintaining his obligations outside the courtroom during the trial shows he can maintain his role as district attorney during the campaign. He added he would put his campaign on hiatus if a big case came up.
In February, Colorado’s economy was ranked the best in the country by U.S. News and World Report, but Brauchler said it could be better with less regulation and streamlined registration policies for small business owners.
“We’re spending a lot of time running with the herd. I think we can be leading the pack,” Brauchler said. “Are we doing well? I think we’re doing fine, but we can be doing bigger and better for a longer period of time with the right leadership.”
Calling criminal justice his “wheelhouse,” Brauchler said he will push for stronger minimum sentences for DUI and homicide offenders.
“Right now, someone can commit serious murder and 20-25 years later be back on the street,” he said.
Brauchler has lived in Colorado for 45 years, currently residing in Parker with his wife and four children. He attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, and later graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law. He is a colonel in the Colorado Army National Guard.
Perlmutter, who launched his campaign at a grocery store in Golden on April 9, served in the state Sentate from 1995-2003.He said he is primarily concerned with protecting the environment and health care for Colorado.
Perlmutter said that under the Trump administration, he believes he can do more good as the governor than as a congressman “because it is the states that can act as a check and balance.”
Brauchler and Perlmutter have joined a crowded field that includes more than a dozen candidates.
Notable on the Republican side is businessman Victor Mitchell, a Castle Rock resident who served in the state House from 2007-09. Mitchell runs Lead Funding, an organization that offers financing options for homebuilders and developers.
Mitchell was undaunted in his quest for a showdown in the June 2018 Republican primary election.
“Attorney Brauchler is a fine fellow — a pretty good lawyer. He’s a patriot and soldier,” Mitchell said in an emailed statement. “But we don’t need yet another lawyer at the Capitol. We need business people who are proven managers.”
Aside from Perlmutter, the Democrats in the race with the most name recognition are former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy.
Johnston is a Denver resident who served in the state Senate from 2009-16, and before that, was a teacher and principal. Kennedy, of Denver, was elected treasurer in 2006 and lost a re-election bid in 2010. In 2011, she was appointed the City of Denver’s chief financial officer and its deputy mayor, and she continued in those capacities until 2016.
Four of the past five governors have been Democrats. Hickenlooper was elected to the position in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.