Republican George Brauchler may do himself and his party a favor by exiting the crowded GOP gubernatorial primary to run for attorney general of Colorado.
Brauchler stood among nine declared Republicans running for governor after Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined the race this week. No political party benefits from a crowded primary, which typically leads to candidates tearing each other to shreds before fighting the opposing party's nominee in the general.
Coffman's entry into the governor's race quickly prompted Brauchler to announce his exploration of a run for the position she will vacate.
Brauchler, district attorney for Colorado's 18th Judicial District of Arapahoe and Douglas counties, has shown himself a viable and desirable prospect for the governor's office. He is a more viable and desirable prospect for attorney general.
A governor gets more attention than an attorney general. The governor makes high-profile speeches, visits the White House and signs bills into law.
A state's attorney general, amid less pageantry, can change the course of events for the entire country.
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, in his previous role as Colorado attorney general, nearly stopped the Affordable Care Act with his key role in a multi-state lawsuit that challenged the law all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The court ruled 5-4 to preserve the health care law.
Suthers, as AG, helped 49 other AGs to and the federal government land a $25 billion agreement with the country's five largest mortgage servicers to resolve foreclosure abuses nationwide.
Coffman, who worked for Suthers before succeeding him as AG, played a lead role in a multi-state lawsuit that convinced the Supreme Court of the United States to stop then-President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. Coffman and others convinced the court the aggressive energy mandates would cause "irreparable harm" to residents of Colorado and other states.
When Gov. John Hickenlooper challenged Coffman's authority to sue the federal government against his will, the Colorado Supreme court refused to hear his complaint.
"The roles of the governor and the attorney are separate and distinct," Coffman said in response to the court's decision. "The two executive officers must work independently to best serve all the citizens of Colorado."
A good state's attorney general serves as a major check against federal overreach that threatens the sovereignty of states and the liberties of individuals. Republicans who favor limiting and reducing federal powers should remember the major role state attorneys general play in achieving those goals.
Democrats have elected four of the past five Colorado governors. Republicans have elected one Colorado governor in 43 years.
Colorado Republicans have been more successful electing attorneys general. They elected four of the past five, though Republican Duane Woodard became a Democrat after his election in 1983.
Of 42 attorneys general who have served Colorado, 30 have done so as Republicans. Brauchler is wise to consider a shot at carrying on their work.
The Gazette Editorial Board