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Republican George Brauchler at the Colorado GOP watch party on Tuesday night, Nov. 6, 2018. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Republican George Brauchler conceded Wednesday morning to Phil Weiser, making Weiser the first Democrat since 2005 to hold the job of Colorado attorney general.

Brauchler called Weiser to concede, he told The Colorado Sun. Weiser was beating Brauchler with 50 percent of the vote to his 47 as of Wednesday morning.

The loss is a setback for Brauchler’s political career and for the Colorado GOP, which has high hopes for the 18th Judicial District attorney’s future.

Weiser, former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, is a first-time political candidate who said he was driven to run for the job after President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

Democrat Phil Weiser, who is running for Colorado attorney general, speaks at La Rumba in Denver on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. Candidates hit the campaign trail this weekend as both Democrats and Republicans up and down the ballot worked tirelessly to get out the vote. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

“We in Colorado have a unique opportunity to be a model for our nation during a challenging time,” Weiser said in a victory speech Tuesday night, before Brauchler conceded. “The hard issues we can confront — building an inclusive Colorado, managing our water in the face climate change, addressing the opioid epidemic, and providing accessible and affordable health care, to name a few — are challenges that are not being addressed in Washington.”

Brauchler’s campaign was backed by more than $4 million in spending by the Republican Attorneys General Association. That money was aimed at offsetting the fundraising juggernaut that was Weiser’s campaign.

On Tuesday night, Brauchler initially said the race was too close to call. However, Weiser claimed victory later in the evening as votes were still being tallied and a narrow margin between them began to widen.

Brauchler, who announced his intent to run for governor before switching to the attorney general’s race, is one of the state GOP’s rising stars. His defeat is likely to be felt by the party as it works to rebuild after the Democratic sweep of Colorado’s constitutional offices on Tuesday.

“In Colorado, we don’t see very often when people lose a race then going on to win high office,” said Dick Wadhams, a former chairman of the Colorado GOP. “It’s not impossible, but a loss is a loss is a loss. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to come back from that.”

Brauchler’s loss is a win for the political future of the state Democratic party.

“It’s no secret that Brauchler’s political ambitions knows no bounds,” quipped Eric Walker, the Colorado Democratic Party’s spokesman.

Another Republican rising star that lost Tuesday night was Assistant House Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial. Wist was beaten by Democrat Tom Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting.

Wist was considering a run for Colorado attorney general this year before Brauchler jumped into the race.

Weiser replaces outgoing Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. The last Democrat to serve as attorney general was Ken Salazar, who held the post from 1999 to 2005.


Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...