The Supreme Court Will Hear Our Case

Protecting the votes of Coloradans is fundamental to preserving our democracy. When Coloradans cast their ballots for President, they are voting for a specific candidate, not an unknown elector. That’s why when one of the 2016 Hillary Clinton electors refused to vote for Clinton in the Electoral College—as required by Colorado law—our Secretary of State removed him and oversaw the selection of an alternate elector who followed state law.

The removed elector, Michael Baca, decided to make a federal case out of his removal. And now the dispute is heading all the way up to the Supreme Court, after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals here in Denver decided that the Constitution affords electors the right to vote for anyone they choose, disregarding the will of the voters and overriding any state law limits to the contrary. Colorado, like the majority of states, has a law that addresses the concern of “faithless electors.” In our case, Baca v. Colorado Department of State, the Supreme Court will now decide whether states have the power under the Constitution to make sure that the will of the voters is respected.

The Constitution gives states the right to select their presidential electors through elections, which is what Colorado has done for decades. The thought of a Presidential election being decided by “rogue electors,” including ones willing to auction off their vote, is terrifying. And if elections are not decided on Election Day, but instead by free agent electors, we can expect havoc, chaos, and confusion in our election system. This is why we will be defending the Constitution and the integrity of our Presidential election system, arguing that the Constitution clearly provides to the states the power to have their electors follow state law.

The good news is that the U.S. Supreme Court is now positioned to resolve this critical question about the foundation of our democracy before the 2020 election, preventing the need for litigation on this issue in the wake of the election.

The opportunity to defend Colorado’s law and protect the will of our voters is an awesome responsibility. Every day, I am honored to serve as your Attorney General, leading our Department and contributing to our mission—“Together, we serve Colorado and its people, advancing the rule of law, protecting our democracy, and promoting justice for all.” This case is one important example of that work.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve our state.

The Rule of Law and The Case for Impeachment

The rule of law is fundamental to our nation’s core values. If the American people lose confidence in the durability of the rule of law - the principle that all persons are treated fairly and equally - then we will lose our ability to govern ourselves.  This principle was tested during Watergate. Our nation passed that test, with the U.S. Supreme Court sending a clear and lasting message in the Nixon tapes case – no person, not even a President, is above the law.  

Impeachment is a tool that is not to be used lightly.  In the wake of a complaint filed by a federal employee that President Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, there are now powerful constitutional and moral grounds to consider impeachment.  Such an act constitutes a blatant and illegal abuse of power—conducting foreign relations not with the interests of the United States in mind, but with a focus on a President’s own political and personal interests.

As Colorado’s Attorney General, I am committed to protecting and defending the rule of law.  I have spent my professional life at the U.S. Department of Justice, educating future lawyers, and advancing the rule of law.  When this principle is being tested, I cannot remain silent.  

Impeachment proceedings are the proper next step to defend our Constitution.  The Constitution calls for impeachment in the face of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  As Alexander Hamilton defined the standard for impeachment (in Federalist 65), it is the appropriate remedy for an “abuse or violation of some public trust.”  Given the severity of President Trump’s alleged actions, impeachment proceedings are the proper and necessary next step by Congress.

We are living in a time when distrust in our institutions and our elected leaders is on the rise.  In the face of shocking reports about our President’s conduct, Congress now has an important job to do.  Acting with care, rigor, and integrity, it is up to the House of Representatives to consider articles of impeachment.  In the event that such articles are adopted, it goes to the Senate to conduct a trial. By following this constitutional procedure, and defending the principle that the law must apply to everyone, our nation sends an example to the world and to future generations that the rule of law is a bedrock principle that protects our constitutional democracy.


All Truth is Partial

We are facing a profound challenge to our nation’s tradition of respectful and engaged discourse.  For us to live up to our Founders’ vision of self-governance and a constitutional democracy that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” we have some important work to do.  And that work starts with appreciating what former Colorado Governor Roy Romer often said: “all truth is partial.”

In today’s hyper-polarized environment, there is too little listening and too little collaborative problem-solving in our politics.  A virus that prevents collaboration—and creative problem solving—is that people are often more interested in winning an argument than solving a problem.  Or put differently, it is possible that two people can both be right—looking at different sides of an issue where both see part of the truth—and yet neither individual is able to see what the other is seeing.

To appreciate why “you don’t have to be wrong for me to be right,” as one author put it, consider a mathematical equation that recently went viral:  8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ?  Depending on how you approach this problem, the answer is either 16 or 1.  And both answers are correct, as explained in this article.

For many in our society, it is not common to hear a political leader acknowledging the truth in the argument of someone from an opposing party.  But politics should not be a world of religious views where rival tribes fight it out to the death. It should be a search for truth, for common ground, and for solutions that make the world a better place.

At its best, religion, too, recognizes that all truth is partial.  Many religious traditions are fond of noting that only the Creator sees all truth; humans can only grasp a glimpse of it.  That’s why in the Talmud, which captures hundreds of years of debate among leading rabbis, there is a common refrain of two rabbis arguing a point, only to settle the issue by concluding “they are both right.”

In the scientific world, the concept of two opposing truths is also a familiar one.  Most famously, the argument as to whether light travels in waves or particles was settled by concluding “it’s both.”  And as Niels Bohr famously concluded, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”  

It is not an accident that our politics are abandoning this awareness at the same time that our society is struggling with pluralism.  A politics that stokes fears of integration, that rallies against inclusion, and that insists one group is supreme is a threat to the American project of self-governance.  In a recent article, David Brooks defended inclusion and pluralism, explaining that:

"Pluralists believe that culture mixing has always been and should be the human condition. All cultures define and renew themselves through encounter. A pure culture is a dead culture while an amalgam culture is a creative culture. The very civilization the white separatists seek to preserve was itself a product of earlier immigration waves."

Finally, pluralism is the adventure of life. Pluralism is not just having diverse people coexist in one place. It’s going out and getting into each other’s lives. It’s a constant dialogue that has no end because there is no single answer to how we should live.

Our Founding motto is “E Pluribus Unum,” out of many, one.  This spirit captures why we have historically seen immigration—and new waves of people and viewpoints—as a strength.  The attacks on this spirit present an existential challenge to our society and to our democracy. I believe we shall overcome this challenge, as we did in earlier ones, such as the fight for civil rights and equal justice for all.  But that will only be true because engaged citizens elevate our politics and live our values at a challenging time for our nation. I will continue to do my part and believe Colorado will be a model for our nation.


A Time to Mourn

PHOTO: HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MAY 15: Robots are set up along the pathway at Cherry Hills Community Church for a Celebration of Life service for Kendrick Castillo on May 15, 2019 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Two gunman stormed the STEM school last week where Castillo was a student. Castillo with the aid of two friends took one of the gunman down before being shot and killed. 8 other students were injured in the attack. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

There is a time to talk about gun safety and mental health and all of the work that the AG's office is doing to try to save the lives of Colorado students. But today is the time to talk about Kendrick Castillo, the young man who lost his life to protect his classmates. Today is the time to talk about Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones, who tackled one of the shooters in the school as they saved lives.

Today is the time to think of the little ones leaving classrooms with their hands above their heads in surrender. Their crying faces haunt us. We see our own children in them, and we experience fear and mourning that has, to our terror, become commonplace. Today is the time to think of teachers, who go to work knowing that their classrooms could become a scene of tragedy. Today is the time to think of our eighth graders, seniors, kindergartners, third graders, and every other grade and year from preschool to college and know that they finish their cereal, put on their backpacks, and step into that same reality every single day.

Today is the time to think of them because they asked us to. They want us think of the victims and to mourn with them.

So we mourn for Kendrick. We mourn for those injured. We mourn for the fear and trauma that will never completely heal.

We mourn for the loss of innocence in our own backyards.

Please know that we are working on policy and fighting for better legislation. We came prepared to fight that battle. But we were not ready, and we never will be, to lose more young lives to this violence.

They asked us to think of them. So today, carry their fears with you. Carry their hopes and dreams that will be forever shaken and altered. And know that 20 years from Columbine we have let down an entire generation. Think of them today and carry some of the burden in whatever way you can, so that, maybe, they don't have to bear it alone.

We can and must do better.


Only Love Can Do That

Last night, I spoke at the Colorado Muslim Society for an Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with New Zealand's Mosques. I wanted to share some of my remarks from the vigil with you as we stand together against hate:

In Colorado, we stand with our Muslim friends and neighbors.
In Colorado, we recognize that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.
In Colorado, we are united in addressing rising hate crimes and bigotry.

In America, we honor our national motto, E Pluribus Unum—from many, we are one.
In America, we work together to form a more perfect union.
In America, we believe that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
And in America, we welcome those fleeing religious persecution, as my family was welcomed after surviving the Holocaust.

We all must channel that essential American spirit, a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom and tolerance. That spirit is what Dr. Martin Luther King had in mind when we said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Our love, compassion, and empathy for one another—which we must strengthen in the face of such attacks—is how we do the work of moving toward a more perfect union.

Phil Weiser Elected Attorney General of Colorado

Tonight, Colorado voters elected Phil Weiser as the state’s 39th Attorney General. The victory once again emphasizes the appeal of the first-time candidate’s authenticity, integrity and message of justice and equality for all Coloradans. In the general election, Weiser’s “people-powered campaign” overcame over $5.8 million in attacks funded by out-of-state, dark money interests.

Addressing his supporters, Weiser reflected on the campaign trail and the opportunity ahead:

“We in Colorado have a unique opportunity to be a model for our nation during a challenging time. 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.

“By working to bring people together to address these issues, we will demonstrate the best of what our nation stands for. I look forward to working with an amazing group of leaders in this room and around our state, along with dedicated professionals in the Attorney General’s office, to do just that.”

Thanking his opponent, George Brauchler, Weiser noted that the election presented voters with a clear choice between different visions for the office. He also thanked Joe Salazar, his opponent on the primary ballot, for a substantive primary debate and support that helped achieve victory in the general.

He concluded his remarks with a call to action for supporters, to remain engaged and collaborative:

“I needed your engagement to win this campaign, but I will need you even more to work with me as we take on important challenges together. I am eager to work with anyone who has good ideas to help move Colorado forward. Because together, as your Attorney General, we have some work to do.”

Since declaring his candidacy in May 2017, Weiser ran a substantive and people-powered campaign, visiting all 64 Colorado counties and engaging over 1,000 active volunteers. In total, over 70 officials and organizations endorsed Weiser for Attorney General, and more than 8,500 individuals backed his campaign financially.

What does the Attorney General do?

During this campaign, I have engaged people around Colorado, listened to their concerns, and talked about why the Attorney General’s office is the most important state office that nobody knows about.  The Attorney General is the People’s Lawyer–and, working together, our AG can lead on a range of challenges facing our state.  My campaign to be our next AG has prepared me even better to take on those challenges and, through the authentic relationships I have built around the state, I am more inspired than ever to work with leaders across Colorado to make our democracy work for everyone. To be able to get to work, we need to win this campaign by communicating what the AG does and why this role is so important to protecting our rights and our state.

First and foremost, the AG — as the People’s Lawyer — protects Colorado, its people, and the sovereignty of our state. The Attorney General leads an office of 500 people, 300 of whom are attorneys working on your behalf. In addition to serving as the lawyer for the state of Colorado and most of its governmental organizations, the Attorney General is a leader, managing an $80 million budget and working with communities statewide.

Our AG stops companies from cheating consumers, protects our state’s land, water, and air; and  leads the way when the federal government acts illegally in ways that hurt Coloradans.Over my 24-year legal career — working in the Justice Department, the White House, the Supreme Court, and here in Colorado — I have worked on consumer protection cases, civil rights cases, regulations that protect consumers, and advised our Governor. And, in what is my deepest personal commitment, I will fight for opportunity for all Coloradans.

As our next Attorney General, I will be the lawyer for all the people of Colorado, demonstrating the promise and potential of this office to serve our state.

The Attorney General Protects Our Natural Resources

As your next Attorney General, I will continue Colorado’s leadership on protecting our land, air, and water, which includes rejecting former U.S. EPA head Scott Pruitt’s denial of climate change. I’ll defend rules we have recently developed to address methane emissions during oil and gas development, and I’ll follow Ken Salazar’s example of reinvigorating environmental enforcement at the Colorado AG’s office. When Ken was our AG, he established an environmental crimes unit and brought cases that protected our land, air, and water, such as his action to address the water contamination involving the Summitville Mine. And Ken Salazar has endorsed me in this race because he believes I am the best candidate to protect our water (including helping the negotiations related to the Colorado River Compact), fight to keep our public lands public, and stand up to the EPA when they undermine protections that keep Colorado’s air clean.

The Attorney General Fights for Opportunities for All

I worked with President Obama–who has endorsed me–in the aftermath of the Great Recession to make life better for all Americans.  Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked hard to build an environment where Colorado entrepreneurs can create new companies, where all Coloradans have access to broadband Internet service,  and where, even without a college degree, Coloradans can have access to good-paying jobs. As a candidate, I’ve travelled to all 64 counties, most of them twice, and visited places like the Western Slope and the San Luis Valley on numerous occasions, learning about what Coloradans need and want from their public officials. As your AG, I will continue this leadership, working with leaders around the State, and making Colorado a model for the US.

The Attorney General Upholds American Values on the State Level and Beyond

For those of us who are angered by the developments in Washington, we need leadership at the state level to represent our values and protect Colorado. During a time when President Trump has proposed unconstitutional attacks on immigrants, Jeff Sessions has failed to uphold the critical protections of the Affordable Care Act, and the EPA has undermined  environmental policies that protect Colorado’s clean air, it is states like Colorado that are providing a check on federal overreach. In particular, State AGs are leading the fight to preserve our cherished American values and, with new leadership in the Colorado AG’s office, we can make Colorado a model for the nation, ensuring all Coloradans are treated fairly and afforded the protections provided by federal and state law (such as the ban on discrimination in health care insurance for those with pre-existing conditions).

Protecting the freedoms of all Coloradans is deeply personal to me. I am the first in my family to be born an American citizen — a right, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which our President has threatened to undermine.  My mom was born in a concentration camp at the end of World War II and came to this country for its freedoms and opportunity when she was six. Early in my career, I worked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when the Supreme Court struck down Colorado’s anti-gay law (Amendment 2) and when women were first admitted to the Virginia Military Institute.  As our next Attorney General, I welcome the opportunity to vigorously defend our civil rights, including those of women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrants.

The Attorney General Works for You, Not Special Interests

Not so long ago, races for Attorney General didn’t get much attention or support. But with the funding from special interests groups,  the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has targeted AG races around the country to move their agenda, even in progressive states. In Colorado’s last AG election, RAGA put five times as much money into the race as Cynthia Coffman raised herself. In my election this year, RAGA has spent close to $6 million dollars of out-of-state dark money from undisclosed special interests groups, outpacing my opponent’s fundraising and spending by close to 10  to 1.

Why do these special interests care so much about AG races?  Because the Attorney General’s office can either be a powerful engine for protecting people or be used in counterproductive ways. Led by an innovative AG committed to protecting people, the office defends our constitutional freedoms, stands up for consumers when insurance companies or irresponsible businesses take advantage of them, leads on reforming our criminal justice system, and protects our land, air, and water from polluters. Recently, however, our AG’s office has focused less on solving problems and more on advancing AG Cynthia Coffman’s political agenda.  That agenda included suing Boulder County for its management of oil and gas development, failing to even talk with them or give them a heads up prior to filing a lawsuit. That type of action–focused on scoring political points rather than solving problems–is the wrong sort of leadership from our AG for Colorado.

What You Can Do

The election is only four days away.  That means your involvement is more important than ever. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and we need all players on the field in these final days.

Up through 5pm on election night, we will be launching canvasses across Colorado. Your time and energy to knock doors and make phone-calls is precious to us. Potential voters who have face-to-face contact with volunteers are 30-40% more likely to vote. Click here to sign up to volunteer.

Voters are still educating themselves and making critical decisions about which candidates they support up through election day, and media buys are an important resources to help us reach them. Every dollar counts in helping us reach our goals in these final days. If you can, please consider donating; even $20 to help us reach over 1,000 voters on digital media.

If you’re taking the time to read this blog and find out how you can help, I know you’ll vote. But your friends might not do the same. You can sign up for Voter Chase, an interactive app that allows you to see if your friends have voted, and encourage them to if they haven’t. People are more likely to vote when someone close to them encourages them to, so call your friends, neighbors, and parents to make sure they’ve cast their ballot!

And finally, vote as if your rights depend on it — because they do.

Optimism in the Face of Cynicism

When I launched my campaign, I committed to being authentic, straightforward, and presenting a positive vision to the citizens of Colorado. Over the last 18 months, I have stayed true to the core optimism that animates my commitment to public service. I knew that this election would test whether I could win this race through a commitment to an elevated and positive dialogue with the voters.

In the face of the Republican Attorney General’s Association latest attack ad, which makes deceptive and sensational claims about my career and values, I had a choice to make in terms of how to respond. My belief is that cynical and deceptive attack ads seek to divide us, debase the public discussion, and undermine our democracy. In this case, the ad also sought to distract voters from the important issues–and the comparison of my and my opponent’s stance on them–that voters will face when they elect our next Attorney General.

Just this weekend, a nonpartisan fact-check by the Denver Post’s newsroom reviewed the ad and debunked every one of the claims it reviewed as “misleading.”
Source: Ad Fact Check, Denver Post, October 27, 2018

Because I am committed to fighting for our democracy and building trust with voters, I responded to this attack by explaining the truth and what is at stake in this election. (You can see my response below.)  I believe that the damage done through divisive rhetoric and attacks on our institutions threaten our democracy. They also disrespect the voters.

"[T]he ad about Weiser’s pro bono work is especially troublesome by the way it intimates that Weiser is unfit for public service for defending constitutional rights."
Source: Below the Belt, Grand Junction Sentinel, October 26, 2018

The issue addressed in the ad was my work on a pro bono civil case for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is a significant honor to be asked by a panel of judges to address an important issue of constitutional law. I did not choose the case or the client. And I never sought to defend the prisoner’s actions (as a criminal defense attorney or otherwise). My job was to defend his constitutional rights, in particular, equal justice under law and due process. This principle is a bedrock of our Constitution–due process is provided to everyone, even for the most abhorrent of criminals.

To suggest that defending a prisoner’s constitutional rights means you support their crimes is offensive to the concept that we are all committed to the rule of law.
Source: Anti-Weiser Ads Disrespect Our Right to Counsel and Must Be Condemned

By The Hon. David L. Wood, a lifelong Republican who is a former President of the Colorado Bar Association and elected District Attorney for Larimer and Jackson Counties, joined with former Democratic DA Stan Garnett, Denver Post, October 26, 2018

My career in the law and public service has focused on defending equal justice under law and fighting for civil rights. That’s exactly what I will do–for all Coloradans–as your next Attorney General. The rule of law and due process should not be partisan issues. For our democracy to survive, we need to defend our most basic constitutional values and reject cynical, attack politics that seeks to undermine democracy and the rule of law to win elections.

From the early responses to this appalling ad (including a powerful editorial by the Grand Junction Sentinel and a great op-ed in the Denver Post), I am more optimistic than ever that our approach will win this election and help us fight for our constitutional rights and our democracy. Please join our campaign and help us do just that.

Vistas, Valleys & Voters: Central & Southwestern Colorado

During our return to the San Luis Valley in August, we start at the Alamosa Boys and Girls Club where an organization called KaBOOM has rallied locals to build a new playground. Members of the local university's football team, county commissioners, parents, and volunteers gather in what was once an empty lot to assemble a place of community gathering. Kids paint a map of the world on the basketball court with a star on Southeastern Colorado that reads “home.” It’s hot outside (90 degrees to be exact), but everyone is cheerful under the late-summer San Luis sun.

Down the road, the sounds of community gathering fade as we pull into the Alamosa County Jail, where Sheriff Jackson has graciously agreed to give us a tour. In the jail, 92% of inmates are opioid users, and the county lacks drug treatment opportunities for the insurgency of drug users in the area. The prison is at 200% capacity; women, who were barely incarcerated a few years ago now makeup a third of the prison population, because opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender; rooms that sleep two are now home to twelve. It’s dire, and the county lacks the resources to provide treatment options, in the jail or otherwise. Instead, arrivals--including addicts--are admitted into a 5x5 orange cinderblock room with a singular drain in the middle. People out in these stretches of rural America where the prisons are crowded with opioid users and treatment is two hours away are used to be ignored. For them, the only politics that matter are whether you show up to listen to them, whether you care about addressing their issues, and whether you can deliver results. It’s not about party or partisanship, it’s about a genuine need for public servants and advocates who take their concerns to heart.

On Alamosa’s Main Street, community leaders and locals gather for a roundtable on the Future of the San Luis Valley. Most strikingly, the majority of attendees say a future is hard to discuss in the face of their present crisis — specifically, the opioid epidemic. John, a career educator in the Valley, recounts a story about one of his former student’s heroin overdose: “I will never forget the pain in [a] father’s eyes as he told me about walking into his son’s bedroom and seeing the needle hanging out of his arm. His son ended up passing away. Stories like that are more common in the San Luis Valley than they should be,” John shares. They are. And to ensure a future for the San Luis Valley, we need to treat this epidemic with urgency and empathy. Similarly, there is a call for empathy towards immigrants, who are valuable workers on farms and an important part of the local economy.

That night, we sleep at Secretary Ken Salazar’s ranch under a sky so dark you can see the cloud of the Milky Way spiraling above. Secretary Salazar rises early and, in a stunning show of hospitality, makes the campaign team a hot breakfast filled with potatoes from his farm, his favorite local red chili, pancakes, and bacon. After we finish breakfast, he takes us down a dirt road in his pickup truck to the cemetery where his parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are buried. We traipse through dew-covered grass, and he tells us about the generations of Salazars that have lived, farmed, and died in the San Luis Valley.

Secretary Salazar tells us about the church that once stood near the cemetery, lost to time and the elements, and how fifty years after looters had stolen the church’s organ, an Anglo-Saxon Mormon found the organ and returned it to the Catholic, Hispanic Salazars. This is a poignant example of how local communities can reach across generational ethnic divides in a stretch of Southeastern Colorado that is at once remarkably beautiful and often overlooked by the rest of our state. The values here are those of family and history; of public service and graciousness; of the land and its power. Coloradans can and should look to the San Luis Valley and its extraordinary residents for an example of our state — of humanity — at its very best.

A few days later, we start our morning with a meeting on the Southern Ute Tribe’s reservation. Phil meets with members of the Tribal Council to talk about the complex relationship between the Southern Utes and Colorado’s government, including the Attorney General. The Ute Tribe is a sovereign nation, responsible for their own land and laws, but still maintain a relationship with the wider state of Colorado as a co-equal sovereign. The laws of the Tribal Reservation and the State of Colorado are different; take, marijuana, for example, which is not legal on the reservation, presenting complicated regulatory and enforcement challenges. At the same time, there is ample opportunity for collaboration in areas where the State of Colorado can work with the Tribe, such as in addressing the opioid epidemic, which has ravaged the Tribal population as it has ravaged the state at large. It is clear from the conversation that Phil recognizes the long and complex history of the Native American Tribes, understands their sovereignty, and is committed to working with them.

On our final day on the road, we stop in Gunnison for a meeting with members of the Upper Gunnison River Water Compact. A single issue that consistently emerges for the future Attorney General is water, and John — the General Counsel for the water district — tells us just how important the AG is in helping negotiate complex water management compacts both between Colorado’s regions and outside states. Understanding water, its nuances, and the importance of fostering collaborative relationship with surrounding states will all be key areas for our next Attorney General.

This trip is the last of our summer road trips, and as Phil and the campaign team rolls back into Denver that night, I reflect on the forty counties we visited this summer, and what we’ve learned from each. Across Colorado, people talk about things that we take for granted on the Front Range: access to reliable broadband, affordable healthcare, and a good education; opioid treatment, water rights, and empathy towards immigrants.

This summer, Phil showed up for them. As Attorney General, I am confident that he will continue to do so.

Rural Advocate of the Year Acceptance Statement

Dear Rio Grande County Democrats,

It is an honor and a privilege to receive the Rural Advocate Award this evening. I am truly sorry that I cannot be there with you in person. Please know that I am inspired by and grateful for your support. And I very much look forward to seeing many of you on my next visit to the San Luis Valley.

One of the great privileges of this campaign has been traveling to communities in places like Rio Grande County, such as Monte Vista and Del Norte, and your neighboring towns across that beautiful Valley. It’s been so valuable for me to hear from you, to learn about your concerns, and to see the amazing energy, innovation, and commitment you bring to building a better future for yourselves, for your children and for future generations. You can be a model for the state on many issues, and you can help to bridge our state’s rural-urban divide. Our rural communities and our cities are deeply connected and Colorado should not be divided along these lines. The issues are not partisan issues - they are Colorado issues, and American issues. We need one another to solve them with creativity, and mutual support.

As Attorney General, I’ll work tirelessly to support every part of our State. I’ll be working to help get high quality broadband to every county; to create new economic opportunities statewide, not just on the Front Range; and to take on the opioid epidemic, which I know is ravaging rural communities like yours. And I know that water is absolutely vital to places like the San Luis Valley. As your Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to protect our water and work with you toward water sustainability, so that your agricultural communities and economy can thrive into the future.

I also know the importance of Colorado’s public lands— they are critical to sustaining agriculture as well, from healthy forests and watersheds that are the source of your water supply to the importance of grazing on public lands, which is key to sustaining the working ranches in your region. And all of the other ways that rural communities like yours depend upon public lands to meet your real needs and quality of life—from hunting and fishing to providing firewood for heating your homes, along with the public lands recreation that your families enjoy, as well as the ways that public land recreation can contribute to your local economy.

As you know, I have visited the San Luis Valley six times in the course of this campaign. I deeply believe in the importance of candidates showing up in person, to build direct relationships with people in communities around our great state. And while I am unable to be there with you tonight, I greatly appreciate your acknowledging my commitment to you and to advocating for rural areas. We have important work to do together. I believe that —with the right leadership and your community’s proven commitment to working together and finding solutions—the future of the San Luis Valley will be very bright. You have my commitment to help you and to work with you, in every way possible, as your next Attorney General.