That didn’t last long. After announcing he was running for governor of Colorado early Wednesday morning, Republican George Brauchler enjoyed a honeymoon that lasted just six hours before the attacks started coming.
“Attorney Brauchler is a fine fellow — a pretty good lawyer,” read a back-handed compliment from fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate Victor Mitchell. “He’s a patriot and soldier. But we don’t need yet another lawyer at the Capitol. We need business people who are proven managers.”
Mitchell’s statement quickly veered into more dismissive territory.
“Lawyer George Brauchler has himself said that Colorado government needs better management — but that’s not his background,” Mitchell continued. “He should instead run for attorney general. Lawyering is his forte. He may come around to that conclusion himself after a few months of discovering that he’s in the wrong race. Coloradans want a businessman in the governor’s office.”
Mitchell, a Douglas County entrepreneur and former state representative, was attempting to turn one of Brauchler’s initial campaign themes on its head, implicitly responding to Brauchler’s contention that the prosecutor and Colorado Army National Guard colonel will bring leadership to the office of governor after it has suffered under three terms of Democratic governors’ “management.”
Mitchell was also referencing what is perhaps his primary opponent’s biggest claim to fame, that he led the prosecution of James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooter, although a jury sentenced Holmes to 12 life sentences without the possibility of parole and an additional 3,318 years in prison rather than impose the death penalty Brauchler had sought.
“George Brauchler’s record of leadership in the U.S. military and in the largest DA’s office in Colorado speaks for itself,” Brauchler’s campaign manager, Ryan Lynch, told The Colorado Statesman after Mitchell’s attack surfaced.
Mitchell also challenged Brauchler’s declaration that he is the authentic conservative in what could be a crowded primary field.
“It’s pretty clear that I am the conservative in this race, and I bring those conservative values and thoughts to the role government should play in people’s lives at the state level to that office,” Brauchler told The Statesman in an interview the day before he officially announced his run. He also claimed the mantle of the grassroots candidate, comparing himself to declared and potential primary opponents who can self-fund their campaigns — including Mitchell, who said when he announced that he was writing his campaign a check for $3 million.
But Mitchell was having none of it.
“Surprisingly, attorney Brauchler says he’s ‘the conservative’ in this race,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “Once again, his lawyerly trial preparation comes up short. I’ve got a message for him. No real conservative wants to take on massive new debts for a horribly managed (Colorado Department of Transportation) through the sort of mega-bonding plan for roads that he’s proposed in a March 15 op-ed for the Aurora Sentinel. This could wreck our state’s finances and cost Colorado jobs. It’s clear that the Capitol-insider establishment and road lawyer-lobbyists already have fellow lawyer Brauchler in their pockets. Just say ‘No thanks!, I’ll take a real businessman instead.’”
Mitchell is chairman and CEO of Lead Funding, a real estate lending company. He’s founded and run a half dozen businesses in the wireless, technology, manufacturing and real estate fields during his lengthy career.
Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter III is also an announced Republican candidate in the race for the chance to take over as governor after Democrat John Hickenlooper faces term limits next year.
Additional potential GOP candidates include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Davita Healthcare Partners Chairman and CEO Kent Thiry and former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, who mounted a run in last year’s U.S. Senate primary.