George Brauchler leads in GOP district attorney primary for newly created judicial district

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
George Brauchler at a debate Jan. 25, 2024 among candidates running in the 8th Congressional District primary race. The event was hosted by the Republican Women of Weld and the Lincoln Club of Colorado at the Fort Lupton Recreation Center.

George Brauchler, a former district attorney and former candidate for Colorado Attorney General, has a commanding lead in the Republican nomination to be the district attorney of a newly created judicial district.

He says his opponent, Dagny Van Der Jagt, has not conceded, but as of Tuesday night and three rounds of ballot returns, Brauchler feels confident with a 30-point advantage.

“It feels great obviously to win,” said Brauchler. “As a candidate you never feel comfortable, no matter what anybody tells you, until those ballots start rolling in.”

The new 23rd Judicial District includes Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties, solidly Republican territory. Meaning, should Brauchler prevail in the primary, he is well positioned to win the general election in November.

“It's very conservative, it's very Republican,” said Brauchler. “And it’s an opportunity to serve in a capacity that I'm not only comfortable with, I'm passionate about.”

He added that he will likely be the only Republican district attorney in the Denver metro area.

Brauchler served two terms as district attorney of the 18th Judicial District, which previously included these three counties, from 2013 to 2021. He gained notoriety for challenging then-Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to indefinitely delay the execution of Nathan Dunlap, who was on death row for the killings of four people in a Chuck E. Cheese in Aurora in 1993.

Brauchler was also the lead attorney in the trial of James Holmes, who killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora in 2012 at a midnight premiere of the latest Batman movie. That trial garnered international headlines in 2015. Holmes was found guilty, but jurors declined to give him the death penalty. (Colorado abolished the death penalty in 2020.)

Brauchler had planned to run for governor in 2018, but instead switched to run for Attorney General. He lost to the current AG, Democrat Phil Weiser. The creation of a new conservative judicial district offered him a chance at a political comeback.

Dagny Van Der Jagt, Brauchler’s opponent in the Republican primary, had no political experience and spent only $38,312, with more than $25,000 coming from a series of loans she gave her campaign last December.

Besides name recognition, Brauchler had a two-to-one money advantage, raising $91,386 for the primary election. 

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a far right gun rights group, targeted him in negative mailers for his brief support of a red flag law (allowing guns to be temporarily removed from certain people if there are mental health or other concerns). Even though Brauchler eventually came out against a version of the red flag law that passed, gun advocates have spent against him in this primary.

Karen Breslin filed paperwork in April to run as a Democrat, but she has not reported raising any money. Breslin failed to make the ballot in her run for Colorado’s Fourth Congressional District this year in Colorado. Her LinkedIn says she’s an attorney for Progressive Law LLC, in Elizabeth, Colorado. Calls and emails to her were not immediately returned.