Republican George Brauchler, a district attorney and military man, is running for Colorado governor. He visited Cortez on Monday to pitch his experience and plans to the Montezuma County Republicans over nachos at Fiesta Mexicana.
Brauchler, 47, may be the most high-profile candidate in the campaign to replace Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is term-limited.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney since 2013, he has an office with 88 prosecutors and 20 investigators that serve Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, with a combined 1 million residents. As assistant DA, he prosecuted the perpetrators of the Columbine high school and as DA he prosecuted James Holmes, who was convicted in the Aurora theater massacre.
He’s also a colonel in the Colorado Army National Guard and served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1996-2015. He served as chief military justice for Fort Carson and northern Iraq.
“Why am I running for governor? Because the Colorado I’m about to turn over to my kids is not the one I inherited from my parents,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a position to do something about it.”
His conservative beliefs, dedication to states’ rights and budget scrutiny will lead the way. Colorado roads are in bad shape, he said. “Our highway structure is neglected, and I don’t believe we need a sales tax to fix roads. It takes fiscal management and leadership.”
Money spent by Colorado on environmental assessments instead of pavement, and state incentives like a $5,000 rebate for electric cars, shows “the state has rejected prioritization of money,” Brauchler said. He favors gasoline taxes.
He wants Washington, D.C., out of classrooms, and more state control and trade schools. “I want to de-emphasize the federal influence on our schools because the more we invite them into our state, the more decisions they will make,” he said.
Vocational schools are needed to fuel the economy and provide skilled labor jobs, he said. “In Colorado, 57 percent of those who graduate high school go on to college. What are we doing for the other 43 percent?” he said.
He said Denver-area construction leaders say they won’t be able to fill labor jobs with the current state population. “They are going to have to recruit from outside the state,” he said. He proposed reducing certification requirements so experts in technical trades can become instructors.
Brauchler also hopes to decentralize government by spreading agencies across the state. “Why is Colorado Parks and Wildlife headquarters in downtown Denver?” he said. “Sell the building and relocate to Craig or Cortez, where there is actual hunting, and hire local people who believe in hunting and conservation.” Spreading the agencies around “promotes rural economic development, creates a better product and gets all of Colorado involved in the process,” he said.
On health care, he said Medicaid has not been used as intended, and he would prefer the state receive block grants from the federal government to run the program. “We have a moral obligation to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves,” he said. “But with one in four on Medicaid, 44 percent of whom are able-bodied working adults, it has moved from a safety net to a hammock,” he said. “Entitlements like Medicaid put a strain on our state budget.”
Democratic candidates include former Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston; U.S. Rep. Jared Polis; former state treasurer Cary Kennedy; and businessman Noel Ginsburg. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter dropped out of the race Tuesday.