Brauchler, focused on Holmes case, unlikely to challenge Hickenlooper

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Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, a Republican, speaking to the Lincoln Club in Denver earlier this summer.

DENVER — Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, who’s been considering a run for governor since May, now appears unlikely to join the Republican primary field.

The first-year prosecutor told FOX31 Denver Tuesday that he’s not completely closed the door on a possible run, but that his first priority is leading the death penalty case against Aurora theater gunman James Holmes.

The trial in that case, which will likely play out over several months in court, is likely to begin next year.

“It becomes harder and harder as we get further down the road,” Brauchler said. “And I just view this decision as a matter of duty over opportunity. My obligation is to get justice in this case, whatever that justice turns out to be. That’s got to be my priority.”

Republicans who have been talking privately with Brauchler have assumed as much for weeks.

And two operatives close to Brauchler, who’d likely have been involved in a gubernatorial campaign, have recently taken jobs elsewhere: Dustin Zvonek, who advised Brauchler during his run for district attorney, just left a job with Rep. Mike Coffman to run the Colorado arm of Americans for Prosperity; and Chuck Poplstein, rumored to have been ready to run a 527 organization supporting a Brauchler campaign, has now moved from a job with the Colorado GOP to work as Rep. Cory Gardner’s district director.

Three Republicans have already entered the governor’s race: former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who challenged Hickenlooper on the American Constitution Party line in 2010 after the GOP was left with Dan Maes as its nominee, jumped into the race first in late May; state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who announced his campaign in July; and Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who officially entered the race just last week.

Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, is expected to enter the race in the coming weeks.

Hickenlooper has seen his support soften following a divisive and Democrat-dominated legislative session and his May decision to grant a temporary reprieve to Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap, whose execution had been scheduled for the fall.

Brauchler’s strong criticism of that decision and his characterization of Hickenlooper as the “state bartender” who was likable but not a firm or decisive leader struck a chord with some Republicans who urged him to consider the race.

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