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Attorney General Phil Weiser campaigns for reelection in Aspen and Snowmass Village

 Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who is seeking reelection to a second four-year term, was fundraising and campaigning in Aspen and Snowmass Village this past weekend.
Courtesy Attorney general's office
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who is seeking reelection to a second four-year term, was fundraising and campaigning in Aspen and Snowmass Village this past weekend.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is running for reelection and a second four-year term.

His opponent is John Kellner, a Republican and the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District, which includes Douglas and Arapahoe counties on the Front Range.

Weiser, a Democrat, held a fundraiser in Snowmass Village Saturday and spoke at a meeting Sunday at the Pitkin County library.

He also came by Aspen Public Radio on Monday and was asked how his reelection campaign was going.

“I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot, as I look at the work we’ve done," Weiser said. "On water, on addressing this opioid crisis, bringing back $500 million to get more treatment and recovery services, we brought back $85 million helping consumers who’d been ripped off, and we worked hard to defend our democracy.

"Not to mention reproductive rights, another issue that people are concerned about with the Dobbs decision.

"I want people to look at my record and to make a decision about whether I deserve four more years as the people’s lawyer. I believe we’ve done great work in all these areas and more. We have more work we need to do. That’s why I want to continue serving as attorney general.”

Weiser has his reelection case down, but there is a lot there to unpack.

For example, he addressed whether the new, stronger state law about fentanyl, where more than 1 gram constitutes a felony, is a return to harsher drug penalties of the past.

“The problem," he said, "with our old law is that you could have like 70 counterfeit pills on you, or if you had pure fentanyl, enough to kill 2,000 people, and it was classed as a misdemeanor. And so we were allowing dealers to get a freedom to operate and literally lead to people dying. That is unacceptable.

"I’ve talked to moms who’ve lost kids who bought what they thought was a Xanax or an Oxycodone pill, but it was fentanyl presented as a counterfeit prescription pill. We need the ability to go after those dealers. That’s what this new law does.

"And by lowering the amount, we’re giving dealers less freedom to operate holding on to, say, 70 pills and claiming it is for their own use. Our goal is not to criminalize users.”

Regarding the Colorado River basin and the ongoing effects of aridification, Weiser said the state of Colorado intends to increase its measurement of water use by irrigators and others.

“We’ve got to figure out a range of solutions that will be smart, will be innovative, and ideally done with a collaborative mindset," he said. "The way I would start, from a hierarchy, is we need much better measurement of what is happening. So the water-measurement challenge is one that the Infrastructure Act calls us to take on and we have funds that we can build in more measurement.”

Weiser also noted that the upper basin states are in compliance with the Colorado River Compact.

“Colorado and the upper basin states have stayed in compliance," he said. "In fact, we’ve tightened our belts, because we’re a headwaters state.

"Meanwhile, the lower basin states have kept overusing, more than they are allowed, and they’ve now depleted these reservoirs. We’re looking to them: What are you going to do?

"And ideally, they will ask us for some help, because we’ve been doing conservation here in Colorado and we’re now working on reuse, and they’ve got to start stepping up to that plate."

Another issue we discussed was election security. Did he think if Republicans lose in the upcoming Colorado elections, they will say that the elections were rigged?

“I am nervous about this issue," Weiser said. "We cannot take for granted that our democratic republic will still function. What we need to make sure we do is have our institutions work the way they are supposed to.

"If people have concerns about elections, they can ask for a recount. Tina Peters just did it in the secretary of state primary.

"You can go to court if you have any allegations of fraud, but you can’t just make stuff up and object without any basis. That is not going to be condoned by courts. And in 2020, it didn’t go anywhere, and we have to do our best to make sure in 2022 and in 2024 that we continue to honor election results.”

Copyright 2022 Aspen Public Radio . To see more, visit Aspen Public Radio.

Brent Gardner-Smith