Democratic candidate for AG is a quick study

The Colorado Statesman

The sole Democratic candidate for attorney general says that he would look at each case through a legal lens rather than through a political filter if he were elected the state’s next chief attorney.

Don Quick, the former district attorney for Adams County, is almost sure to receive his party’s nomination at the State Assembly in order to compete against one of two Republican candidates, either Rep. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs, or Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Quick points out that the state’s current attorney general, Republican John Suthers, has been criticized for his opposition to gay marriage and federal health care reform.

Suthers has always maintained that his job is simply to defend the laws of the state, but some critics — such as the LGBT community and Democrats — have accused him of using the powerful position to advocate for personal political beliefs instead of representing the legal interests of the state.


Don Quick

Quick believes that if Suthers is truly looking at the gay marriage issue through a legal perspective, then it should be obvious that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

“I don’t think it’s a complicated analysis,” opined Quick. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly said for close to 100 years that marriage is a fundamental right, and when you pick out a group and you say this group doesn’t get this fundamental right, that violates the equal protection clause.”

Quick believes that the role of the attorney general is simply to examine law and not to use the office for any political advocacy.

“The bottom line is that the attorney general in 99.9 percent of the cases follows the law,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether the law ends up for the Republicans or where the Democrats want it. It’s where the law ends up.

“You need an attorney general who is independent, and I want to work constructively with the other government offices, but at the end of the day, my obligation is to follow the law,” Quick added.

One polarizing issue that Quick is likely to face if elected attorney general is that of local control over oil and gas regulation. Some municipalities like Longmont would like to have control over their own oil and gas regulations. But Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration has sued Longmont for overstepping the state’s authority.

With the question of local control possibly appearing on the ballot, the issue has become a political football. Other Front Range municipalities, including Longmont, have banned hydraulic fracturing altogether since the lawsuit, which has added to the political drama.

Quick may have to represent Hickenlooper and the state in suing such local municipalities. But he believes there is a better approach to litigation, which could include working with local governments.

“There should be a role for local government, and I think the idea that litigation is going to solve this mess… I don’t think it is,” explained Quick.

“I think we can find some places to make things work,” he added. “There needs to be a better exchange of information on both sides…”

Quick acknowledged that serving as attorney general can be a stressful job, especially when it comes to such controversial cases as local control over oil and gas regulation and same-sex marriage. But he said he is up for the task, pointing to his family as a strong support system.

He and his wife, Kerrie — who is also an attorney — waited until their two boys were older before they took the plunge into running for statewide office.

“I tell people… I think I’m the most qualified lawyer in the attorney general race, but I am the second smartest lawyer in my family,” Quick said of his wife, whom he met in law school at the University of Colorado Boulder.

He and his family are already looking toward the general election, pointing out that it will take a great deal of stamina in order to survive the race. As a runner, Quick said he knows how to pace himself.

“I’m enjoying the campaign; enjoying talking issues with people,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the debates and interactions with my opponents. I’m ready for the summer when everything starts to ramp up.”

Peter@coloradostatesman.com