Phil Weiser completes blue sweep in Colorado’s top offices with attorney general win

Weiser defeated Republican George Brauchler in the race to be Colorado’s top law enforcement officer. Brauchler said the obvious — that Coloradans were voting with Washington in mind, too.
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Colorado Attorney General candidate Phil Weiser speaks at a forum at the Windcrest Retirement Community in Highlands Ranch, July 31, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Democrat Phil Weiser will be Colorado's 39th Attorney General after his Republican challenger George Brauchler called Weiser Wednesday to concede the race.

Weiser said Wednesday Brauchler congratulated him on a “hard-fought campaign,” on Wednesday morning. Weiser said the two spoke about working together to address issues in the state.

The win completes a clean sweep for Democrats in Colorado. They successfully took the state's governorship, secretary of state and state treasurer offices.

“We were able to overcome a 2-1 spending disadvantage,” Weiser said Wednesday. “We were able to get out the message that the attorney general is the people’s lawyer for all Colorado.”

That spending disadvantage showed in the final results: It was the closest race among Colorado's executive offices, with Weiser narrowly defeating Brauchler 49.67 to 47.48 percent. While some news outlets had called the race, Brauchler had not conceded Tuesday night.

“I just have to say this campaign is the most inspiring thing I have ever done,” Weiser said. “They’re not abstract issues, these are people’s lives…these are farmers around the state and people who worry about healthcare or people who have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic.”

In a statement Wednesday, Brauchler said he is looking forward to working with Weiser and the state's new leadership. He said many Coloradans "voted their disagreement with what is taking place in Washington, DC." adding that residents, "want to govern ourselves."

"This is a new era in Colorado politics," Brauchler said "I am proud of the job we did running a close race in a state that appears blue at this time."

"After such vigorous and partisan political battles at the national and state level, it is my sincere hope that Colorado can move forward for our mutual benefit, remembering that what politically separates us should not permanently divide us," Brauchler added.

On Weiser’s shortlist of issues to tackle in Colorado are the opioid epidemic, access to water and access to healthcare.

The campaigning put him “in a better position to govern and lead” and familiarize himself with some of the challenges his office will need to address.

Weiser intends to continue “holding companies accountable” who contributed to the opioid epidemic. He will support current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for their role the crisis; Weiser said the company lied about the addictive nature of some of their prescription opioids.

He wants to use money from the lawsuit to pay for drug use and provide access to treatment.

George Brauchler addresses the crowd at the Colorado Republicans' election day party, Nov. 6, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

On water, Weiser said the AG has a front-and-center role in the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Weiser said due to climate change, there’s less water. This will be a big concern for his office moving forward, which he said will start by finding ways to conserve water more efficiently and being more creative with its reuse opportunities.

“The solution to water management is not going to be litigation,” Weiser said.

He plans on joining lawsuits that will ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected. Weiser said he wants to increase more competition among healthcare companies in the state to bring costs down.

The results on Tuesday were almost identical to June’s primary. The AG race between Weiser and state Rep. Joe Salazar was too close to call on election day. After living through such a similar experience, did Weiser go to bed uneasy about the close results on Tuesday?

“This was different than the primary when I went to sleep thinking I was reasonably sure (that he’d won),” Weiser said. “Last night I went to bed knowing this race was over.”

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