BROOMFIELD — The two top contenders for the Democratic nomination for Colorado’s next attorney general made the primary ballot Saturday at the party’s state assembly, with former dean of the University of Colorado Law School Phil Weiser landing a decisive 53 percent of delegate votes and state Rep. Joe Salazar garnering 37 percent.
Amy Padden, a former state and federal prosecutor, came up short, with just over 10 percent support from those gathered inside the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.
She can still make the primary ballot, however, as she is also going through the petition process. She has submitted gathered signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and they are in the process of being verified.
Colorado’s primary election is June 26.
All three candidates took to the stage Saturday to convince the hundreds of delegates on hand to vote for them. Salazar unleashed a fiery, impassioned speech, saying “it’s time we have a real street fighter standing up for Colorado.”
He vowed to battle for homeless communities, undocumented families and workers. Salazar also said he would fight the oil and gas industry to protect people and the environment.
“I will not sell this seat to corporate or special interests,” he said.
Weiser called himself a fighter, too, in a speech that focused on protecting democracy. He highlighted how a Democratic attorney general is needed to push back against the Trump administration on issues like immigration — specifically the unraveling of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“Our democracy is at stake, and I’m optimistic that this is the year we fight for it,” he said. “… We cannot give up hope.”
Both men said, as well, that they would push for stricter gun regulations.
Weiser holds a significant lead over Salazar in fundraising, with over $1 million raised since he announced his candidacy in May.
Padden’s remarks were forward-looking to the general election, as she presented herself as the Democrats’ best option to beat Republican attorney general candidate George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District’s attorney, in November.
She vowed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and said she stands with DACA recipients, protectors of the environment and civil rights advocates.
“We need a strong attorney general who can lead,” Padden said, “and trust me, I can lead.”
Weiser was the choice for delegate Mac McGraw, a 65-year-old retired teacher from Fort Morgan, who earned McGraw’s vote based on his experience and his electability.
“In a statewide race, I think Weiser has it,” McGraw said.
For John Riley, a 74-year-old Denver delegate, the choice for attorney general nominee was Salazar, the Thornton Democrat, who Riley said connected with him on several issues.
“He’s for criminal justice reform, he’s trying to get control over oil and gas, and he’s a civil rights person,” Riley said. “He’s proven to be who he is.”
The choice for Susan Lazo of Breckenridge was agonizing. The Democratic delegate bounced back and forth between Salazar and Weiser before finally casting her vote for Weiser.
“I wish I could vote for two,” she said, holding her head in her hands.
Another running for attorney general, but seeking to get on the ballot through the petition process, is Denver attorney Brad Levin. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office is still working to verify his signatures.
In other races Saturday, State Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, won 52 percent of the vote to land on the primary ballot for state treasurer, besting Bernard Douthit, who had 32 percent and also made the ballot.
Charles Quin Scheibe, the state’s chief financial officer, came up short at the assembly, with just over 16 percent of delegate votes. Thus, he won’t be on the ballot.
In the Democratic contest for Colorado secretary of state, Jena Griswold won 98 percent of the delegates’ support, keeping rival Phillip Villard off the primary ballot.