John Walsh, a former U.S. attorney for Colorado, stepped down from his job at an international law firm Monday to consider a Democratic primary run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Cory Gardner.
“It’s never been more important to have a senator who has the strength to stand up to Donald Trump and who fights every day for Colorado’s progressive values. That’s clearly not Cory Gardner,” Walsh said in a statement to Colorado Politics.
He said he plans to decide by the end of April.
Before joining WilmerHale as a partner in 2017, Walsh spent six years as the chief federal law officer for Colorado under President Barack Obama.
At WilmerHale’s Denver office, he headed the investigations, criminal litigation and complex civil litigation team, working with former Interior Secretary and former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, a founding partner of the Denver office.
A team Walsh headed is set to be honored in April with the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network’s 2019 Pro Bono Service Award for representing immigrant parents and relatives detained and separated from their children under the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
If he runs, Walsh would join a growing field of Democrats vying for the chance to take on Gardner, considered the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election next year.
Already in the race are former state Sen. Mike Johnston, a gubernatorial candidate last year, and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and for Congress in 2014. Other announced candidates are scientist Trish Zornio, organizer Lorena Garcia, activist Danielle Kombo, pharmacist Dustin Leitzel and veterans advocate Keith Pottratz.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse and state Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail are considering joining the field.
Former House Speaker Crisanta Duran surprised politicos when she announced last month that she would challenge 12-term U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette in the Democratic primary rather than run for Gardner’s seat.
Walsh ran for Denver district attorney in 2004 but lost in a Democratic primary to Mitch Morrissey, who served three terms.
As U.S. attorney, Walsh headed the U.S. Attorney Advisory Committee and was co-chair of its Subcommittee on White Collar Crime.
Walsh previously was an assistant U.S. attorney for eight years in Los Angeles, where he headed the major frauds section.