Editor’s Note: Read more on Phil Weiser’s campaign for AG in the May 15 issue of Law Week Colorado.
Phil Weiser, a former dean of the University of Colorado law school with a history in the Department of Justice, announced today his bid for Colorado attorney general in 2018. He will be running as a Democrat in contention with Democratic Rep. Joe Salazar, who announced March 10, and, presumably, incumbent Republican Cynthia Coffman, though she has not yet announced her plans for 2018.
Weiser will make an announcement speech 11:30 a.m. May 20 at the Pueblo County Courthouse.
Weiser cited his campaign issues as supporting laws and regulations that preserve the environment and the rule of law and that bolster Colorado’s growing business community while also protecting consumers. But it also leans heavily on the idea that Colorado should follow the lead of other state attorneys general in standing in opposition to the Trump administration.
“(I am running) because Donald Trump is our president, and all Americans who care about civil rights and the Constitution need to be vigilant,” Weiser said. “And the people standing up to Trump right now are state attorneys general.”
Weiser has not held an elected office, but he identifies himself as a public servant who has worked in the community throughout his career. In addition to his work in legal academia, he worked within the antitrust division of the DOJ as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general from 1996 to 1998 and later as deputy assistant attorney general from 2009 to 2010. He also has worked with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and was senior advisor for technology and innovation to the National Economic Council director in the Obama administration from 2010 to 2011.
Weiser was dean of the University of Colorado Law School from 2011 to 2016, and in that time raised CU’s stock in the national legal community. He is also the founder of the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law Technology and Entrepreneurship.
As for other issues that he said the state needs to lead on are keeping marijuana legal and protecting democracy. He said he wants to make sure that voters are represented. “I’ll fight against gerrymandering, I’ll fight against voter suppression, and I want to fight against dark money from undisclosed sources in our politics,” Weiser said.
On the criminal justice system, Weiser said he does not support the death penalty because it is not cost effective and because jurors are reluctant to give a death penalty. He also suggests pursuing criminal justice reform so that the criminal justice system keeps us safe and is smarter about who is put in jail.
As he runs for Attorney General, Weiser will remain at CU as a professor. In addition to his announcement speech, he will make follow-up appearances at the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs on May 20 at 3:30 p.m., and at the Garfield County Courthouse in Glenwood Springs on May 22 at 11 a.m. He will then hold an announcement party and kickoff event at Backyard on Blake in Denver on Wednesday, May 24 at 4 pm. His campaign website, PhilForColorado.com, sets out other pieces of his agenda.
He has already gained endorsements from former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, former U.S. Senator and Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar; CEO of Mainspring Developers Fiona Arnold, CEO of Zayo Group Dan Caruso; former CTO to President Obama Aneesh Chopra; former Chief Economist to President Obama Jason Furman; CEO of Mergelane Sue Heilbronner; former Colorado House Minority Leader Alice Madden and former executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development Paul Washington.
“Phil’s leadership in Colorado runs deep, and he has been at the center of an extraordinary amount of work, including opening opportunities in the entrepreneurial community, driving innovation and entrepreneurial training in government, raising the standing nationwide of Colorado Law, and advocating within the broader legal community for increased engagement in our state — his deep concern for others, his ability to see far ahead, and his relentless drive to fight and advocate for the future of this state and those who live here will make him a great Attorney General during these challenging times,” Arnold said.