Rep. Joe Salazar rules out run for governor for a shot at attorney general

State Rep. Joe Salazar announced today he will run for Attorney General in the 2018 election. Salazar, a Thornton Democrat, is currently in his third term as a state lawmaker.

In making his announcement today, Salazar said that as the state’s Attorney General, he “will never be beholden to big business or special interests, and I will be fearless in standing up to bullies like Donald Trump, who would use their power to restrict our freedoms and undermine our civil rights.”

Currently, Republican Cynthia Coffman is Colorado’s Attorney General. She has already filed an affidavit to run for re-election for her second term.

Salazar, 45, a native Coloradan whose Spanish and indigenous roots in Colorado and New Mexico go back hundreds of years, is a civil rights attorney in private practice.

At the Capitol, Joe Salazar has made his mark by sponsoring civil rights legislation, including bills that attempted to require public high schools to end their use of Native American mascots; teach civil government in public schools that includes the history and contributions of minorities; and a homeless person’s bill of rights. This week, Salazar introduced the “Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act,” which intends to protect Colorado residents from federal government overreach that could be based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation.

Salazar is also known as something a firebrand, even within the Democratic Party. He was the first Colorado lawmaker to publicly endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for last year’s Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders rewarded Salazar by endorsing him back, and that led to a hundreds of campaign donations totaling more than $50,000 in a matter of a few days.

No stranger to controversy, Salazar recently was slammed by Republican Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs, who accused Salazar of calling him “half-Latino” at a Feb. 2 forum on the Trump administration’s sanctuary policy held at North High School and sponsored by the Colorado Latino Forum. Williams, who identifies as Latino, told The Colorado Statesman that “The very implication that my voice on matters concerning the Latino community doesn’t count because I’m not full-blooded — this is something that should not be tolerated.”

Stan Garnett, District Attorney for the 20th Judicial District, Colorado

Salazar is not the only Democrat to announce for the Attorney General race this week. Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett filed candidacy papers Thursday for the November 2018 election. This would be Garnett’s second attempt at the top law job in Colorado; he last ran in 2010 against then-Attorney General John Suthers. Garnett’s son, Alec, is also a Democrat and serves with Salazar in the House.

Before today, Salazar had been on a growing list of potential Democratic candidates for governor for the 2018 election. However, he told The Independent, he has been watching attorneys general in other states challenge the Trump administration’s actions and says the position of attorney general gives him a better platform to use “the law to fend off Trump’s unconstitutional actions against people and states. A governor can’t do that.”

So far, the only person to file candidacy papers for governor is former state Sen. Michael Johnston, a Denver Democrat. However, several other Democrats, including former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Wheat Ridge and Ken Salazar are all being talked about as potential candidates.

Related: An early look at the 2018 Democratic primary for governor in Colorado


Joe Salazar photo credit courtesy Joe Salazar

Stan Garnett photo courtesy of the 20th Judicial District, Boulder County

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.


  1. Salazar speaks truth to power. He is not afraid to break from the party line and do what is right for the people he represents. He is a breath of fresh air for Colorado Democrats and we are lucky to have him representing our voices.

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