Phil Weiser held the early lead for Colorado attorney general Tuesday evening with 57% of counted votes cast in his favor.

Weiser, the Democratic incumbent, had received 650,159 votes as of 7:50 p.m. Tuesday, while his Republican challenger, 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner, received 462,733, or 41% of counted votes.

The Office of the Colorado Attorney General is responsible for representing the state in legal matters. The office decides whether to join other states in national legal challenges, oversees law enforcement certification and enforces consumer protection laws. It also handles most environmental litigation and some white-collar criminal cases. The attorney general also often lobbies for legislation and oversees the statewide grand jury.

Both Weiser and Kellner identified a rise in some crimes in Colorado as a top issue. Both Weiser and Kellner acknowledged that the attorney general’s impact on crime rates is generally indirect and the most power the position wields comes from supporting or opposing legislation.

Weiser won his position in 2018 when he defeated Republican George Brauchler, who was then the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District and Kellner’s boss. Weiser previously worked as the dean of the University of Colorado Law School and as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Kellner in 2020 became the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District, which includes Douglas, Arapaho, Elbert and Lincoln counties. Kellner served in the U.S. Marine Corps and previously worked in the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office before joining the 18th Judicial District in 2013. He remains a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

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