Also on his to-do list: Sitting down with Sen. Cory Gardner and his wife to discuss the work-and-family-life balance of being a U.S. senator. Brauchler promised he would make a Senate decision soon, based largely on discussions with his family.
“I’m trying to sort this out in my head, how do I play the role of father and husband with four kids at home if I earn this position,” Brauchler said.
The four-month trial of Holmes—and the three years leading up to his life sentence—raised Brauchler’s profile significantly. In his first week off the Holmes case, he was featured in a Q&A by People magazine.
The case also kept him from discussing his political future. But the district attorney has been on the Republican radar for some time. Brauchler, 45, is relatively untested politically, having won his DA term in 2012 after first challenging the Republican incumbent in 2008. But he is young, charismatic, and served in the military. He hails from some of the most important political turf in Colorado, just outside Denver. And he made his name as an advocate for Colorado’s death penalty (and a fierce critic of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to suspend executions), pushing unsuccessfully to have Holmes sentenced to death for the murders he committed in 2012.
Brauchler insists that he’s never been one to plot his political future, but has already drawn criticism from Democrats for pushing a lengthy, expensive death-penalty trial—aiming for life imprisonment would have shaved months off the case. Opponents charge that Brauchler did it to help his own political career.
“I just don’t have that kind of political ambition,” said Brauchler. “I’m not one of these guys that mapped out a road to the White House or the governor’s office. I wanted to be DA.”
Whatever the case, the trial turned Brauchler into a candidate who could potentially clear a Republican primary field. Colorado Republicans, including Gardner and others, have said that other potential Senate candidates are waiting for Brauchler to say yes or no before figuring out their plans, and avoiding a contentious primary would be a big help ahead of a tough race against Bennet in a presidential year. Clearing the GOP field was an important factor in Gardner’s rise to the Senate in 2014.
Yet Colorado conservatives say Brauchler shouldn’t expect a free pass if he decides to run. Ultraconservative El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has thrown his name into the hat, and a candidate with the potential to self-fund, businessman Robert Blaha, has said he’s “seriously considering the race.”
Blaha told National Journal in an interview Monday that he’d been to D.C. multiple times to discuss the race with national conservative groups, and that a Brauchler bid would not affect his decision. Blaha mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge to Rep. Doug Lamborn in 2012, where he spent about $1 million, and said he’d be willing to invest his own money in the Senate race as well. He declined to talk specifics about a primary against Brauchler, but suggested any candidate trying to “focus group” their positions wouldn’t survive a GOP primary.