Phil Weiser vs. John Kelner for Colorado AG: We endorse Weiser

Editor’s note: This represents the opinion of The Denver Post editorial board, which is separate from the paper’s news operation. Read more endorsements here

Attorney General Phil Weiser is a fierce advocate for Coloradans, whether it’s protecting consumers from abusive corporations, fighting for our water rights or advocating for this state’s best interests in federal court. We hope Colorado voters give him another four years in office.

Weiser, a Democrat, has struck a good balance between being an aggressive lawyer filing federal lawsuits to protect the interests of Coloradans (like keeping protections for pre-existing conditions as part of the Affordable Care Act) and not being a radical partisan activist (like the Texas attorney general whose lawsuit to nullify Joe Biden’s victory, alleged, without evidence, that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election).

We are proud of Weiser’s work, and he has been working hard.

Of course, District Attorney John Kellner, the Republican in the race, has also been working hard for Coloradans in Arapahoe County. Kellner, by all accounts, has had an impressive two years heading up the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and a long career before that as a prosecutor and a Marine.

But Weiser, with his even keel, keen intellect, and kind spirit, is the person we want to lead Colorado’s legal team for the next four years.

It is critically important not only for Colorado but for women across this nation that Weiser prevails in federal court in the coming years with regard to maintaining women’s right to reproductive freedom.

Colorado has become a place of refuge for women who can’t get abortions in their home states, and it is vital that Colorado’s next attorney general vigorously defend the right for women to travel across state lines to obtain safe and legal abortions. We need an attorney general who will file a lawsuit if the federal government attempts to limit the decision voters made in 2020 to reject a ban on late-term abortions. Additionally, we need an attorney general willing to protect Colorado doctors and nurses from getting extradited and charged with crimes in other states for performing abortions.

Weiser is the man for that job.

He has supported reproductive freedom his entire career and, had he been on the U.S. Supreme Court, we know that the former clerk for both former Justices Byron White and Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have seen the folly and the unconstitutionality of stripping pregnant women in this country of the rights conferred by the Bill of Rights that every other American in this country enjoys.

While the most important seat in this state as a protector of pregnant women’s freedom is the governor, there is no question the second most important is the attorney general. Multiple test cases spurred by overzealous prosecutors looking to control pregnant women and imprison Colorado doctors will likely arise in the next four years. Those cases will not be political. They will be about life and death, about freedom and incarceration, and about the future of this great nation as the land of the free.

We need someone like Weiser in the office to head off the worst-case scenario for pregnant women.

Kellner has said that while he is a pro-life candidate who supports the decision to strike down Roe vs. Wade, he will defend Colorado’s abortion laws in the grand tradition of impartial attorneys general like Republican John Suthers, who, as attorney general, successfully defended Colorado’s law limiting gun-magazine capacities against legal challenges.

We appreciate Kellner’s position, but Colorado needs someone in the office at this time who will fight for pregnant women, their medical and personal decisions, and their doctors the way we know Weiser will.

Of course, we overstate the importance of this issue to many Colorado voters and would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge all the other reasons to support Weiser.

He is sailing a narrow channel at the moment, trying to keep Colorado’s water rights intact and out of court while negotiating with the lower-basin states to prevent a catastrophe on the Colorado River. Weiser is treating the tricky waters with appropriate levels of caution and concern.

Weiser has engaged on too many issues for us to name them all here, but we think he was a powerful force in winning multiple settlements with opioid companies to bring money home to this state to fight the addiction epidemic. He then set up a masterful plan to distribute that money to local communities where it will have the most impact.

Weiser’s grand jury process in the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora brought about an indictment of police officers and paramedics, and regardless of the outcome at trial, this state will be better after those who played a role in McClain’s death get their day in court.

Additionally, Weiser is executing oversight and reform of the Aurora Police Department with a consent decree that is the first of its kind. If Weiser can bring about meaningful changes in the department, it will set a model for reform that will restore trust in police departments across this state.

Finally, Weiser has sued and won settlements or agreements with businesses like CenturyLink, DIRECTV, Comcast, Navient (the nation’s largest student loan servicers) and others for their deceptive, unfair or otherwise questionable practices.

He needs another four years in office to continue this good work.

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