Oct 18, 2022 - News

1-minute voter guide: Incumbent Phil Weiser faces John Kellner in Colorado AG race

Photo illustration of Incumbent Phil Weiser and John Kellner

Phil Weiser, left, John Kellner, right. Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado's attorney general race pits incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser against Republican John Kellner in a high-stakes battle for party control of state government.

Why it matters: The post is one of the state's most influential over consumer and public safety matters and comes at a time of rising crime rates.

Meet the candidates: Weiser is a 54-year-old Denver resident who previously worked as the dean of the University of Colorado law school, as well as for the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration and as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Kellner, a 41-year-old Arapahoe County resident, was elected in 2020 as district attorney of the 18th Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. He won against Democrat Amy Padden by a narrow margin.

  • He attended law school in Boulder and is a Marine Corps veteran.

Where they stand: Weiser has made protecting abortion rights and fighting fentanyl top priorities in his re-election campaign, along with continuing his work on police training and recruitment.

  • Kellner, who has called Weiser "soft on crime," plans to focus on cracking down on violent offenders across the state. He also opposes abortion and supports the Supreme Court's decision to let states regulate the issue — but has made it clear he will defend Colorado's current laws, which protect womens' rights to the procedure.

The big picture: When it comes to combating rising crime — a top issue in the race — the two candidates have different visions.

  • "What I’m hoping to see statewide is a return to some of the common sense public safety policies and laws that, in recent memory, had Colorado as a much safer state," Kellner said, per the Denver Post.
  • "We have two major challenges right now: addressing rising crime and building trust in law enforcement,” Weiser said. "You cannot have one without the other. If you don’t have trust in law enforcement, then victims won’t call law enforcement."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is 54 years old, not 53.


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