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DA John Kellner announces bid for Colorado attorney general

Republican narrowly won election to 18th Judicial District in 2020
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Posted at 3:16 PM, Jan 27, 2022

DENVER – John Kellner, the Republican 18th Judicial District Attorney who narrowly won election in 2020, announced Thursday he is running for the GOP nomination to face Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser in the November election.

The judicial district over which Kellner presides covers more than a million people in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties and is the most populous in Colorado. He kicked off his campaign with an opinion article in Colorado Politics about crime in the state.

“Colorado needs an attorney general who is willing to lead from the front – and that is why today I am announcing my campaign for Colorado attorney general,” Kellner said in a statement. “I will not let politics get in the way of the strong leadership necessary to turn the tide on Colorado’s crime wave.”

Kellner is the latest Colorado Republican running for statewide office this year to make crime a key point in their campaign. The title of his opinion article makes the claim that Weiser is “AWOL on skyrocketing crime” and, as have other Republicans, called the surge a “crime tsunami.”

But a Denver Post analysis of the current crime rate compared to rates over the past 35 years found that while some types of crimes surged in 2020 – including motor vehicle thefts, homicides and aggravated assaults – other types of crime decreased, and the area of the state was also a variable when determining crime rates.

Kellner defeated Democrat Amy Padden for the prosecutor’s seat in 2020 by just more than 1,400 votes.

He took over as district attorney from George Brauchler, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for attorney general and was defeated by Weiser by 6.5 percentage points and more than 160,000 votes.

After finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida, Kellner served in the Marine Corps and went to law school at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He remains a member of the Marine Corps Reserves and worked in the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office upon finishing law school.

He moved to the 18th Judicial District in 2013 and led its cold case unit. He lives in Arapahoe County with his wife and two children.

Weiser ended 2021 with more than $2.3 million in cash on hand, according to a Colorado Sun analysis of fundraising and political spending. Kellner is his first declared Republican opponent.