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August 03, 2022 10:22 AM UTC

John Kellner Lost the Attorney General Race Last Night

  • by: Colorado Pols
Phil Weiser and John Kellner

Four states held Primary Elections on Tuesday night. The biggest story — by far — was the outcome of a hotly-contested abortion rights measure in Kansas. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:

A political earthquake shook Kansas on Tuesday. Voters in the deep-red state turned out in droves to reject a measure that would have taken abortion protection out of the state constitution. With more than 90 percent of the vote reported, the “no” vote (which would preserve abortion access) led by nearly 20 points as of Wednesday morning…

…This is the first concrete evidence of a major backlash against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Forced-birth advocates in Kansas thought that by putting the measure on a primary ballot, for which turnout is historically lower, conservative voters could dominate. Instead, they drove Democrats and a lot of pro-choice independents and Republicans who might not otherwise vote to the polls.

Republicans in other states should pay attention to Tuesday’s results. [Pols emphasis]

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”60%”]“As somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision…”

     — Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner (8/2/22)[/mantra-pullquote]

That last line is an apt warning, but for one Republican politician in Colorado, it came just a few hours too late. During a candidate forum at Community College of Aurora on Tuesday evening, Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner all but assured that he will not defeat incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser by announcing that he SUPPORTS the June Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that essentially overturned Roe v. Wade and the Constitutional right to an abortion in the United States.

Kellner bombed on two separate questions regarding abortion rights, both of which you can see in the clips below. We’ve transcribed the quotes as well.

First up, here’s Kellner responding to a question about the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) approved by the Colorado legislature last Spring:

KELLNER: So I understand that people have a lot of concerns after the Dobbs decision, especially in Colorado. You know, wondering what is the future of the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and what does that mean for people in our state?

As somebody who has given this a lot of thought, I understand that people have very deeply-held emotions and very personal opinions about this that are oftentimes rooted in their religion, their sense of morality…very personal decisions that they may have to make. 

And as somebody who supports the Dobbs decision returning this back to the states to make a decision, [Pols emphasis] it’s also important to recognize that Colorado, and its legislature, has spoken on the issue. And frankly, the people have spoken on this issue multiple times at the ballot box as well. 

Kellner goes on to claim that he would support RHEA as Attorney General, but the damage is already done by that point. Endorsing Dobbs is supporting a judicial doctrine, which is a much bigger deal for a candidate for Attorney General. It’s a statement in support of right-wing judicial activism and overturning 50 years of precedent. Or, more simply, it’s expressing a position that is completely at odds with the opinion of the majority of Colorado voters.

Later in Tuesday’s forum, Kellner failed to even come close to answering a ‘Yes or No’ question about abortion rights:

QUESTION: Do you support a woman’s right to choose over her reproductive rights?

WEISER: Yes. The Dobbs decision was wrongly decided.

KELLNER: I don’t think I can give you a bumper sticker answer for this. It is just simply, I think like most Americans, too nuanced of a position to be able to tell you a yes or no answer to that. [Pols emphasis]

[Audience murmurs. One unidentified woman groans, ‘Oh, come on.’]

MODERATOR: As it’s a lightning round, let’s move forward. We have an answer. 

If you can’t answer ‘Yes’ to a question about whether you support a woman’s right to choose…then your answer is ‘No.’ Period. This isn’t complicated.

Kellner had several other questionable answers on Tuesday about issues such as gun violence (he opposes an assault weapons ban) and school vouchers (he supports vouchers for religious schools). But those answers are all secondary to Kellner expressing his support for overturning Roe v. Wade literally on the same night that voters in ultra-conservative Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure seeking to restrict abortion rights. 

There is often a seminal moment in high-profile political campaigns in which the race permanently shifts to one side or another. Tuesday was that moment in the race for Attorney General.


22 thoughts on “John Kellner Lost the Attorney General Race Last Night

  1. Unlike most here I will accept a by on the first question. Someone can be strongly pro-choice and also disagree that constitution somehow has a right of privacy inherent in it.

    But on question #2, that's where the 2nd half of it comes in. You can have a lot of nuance in your own personal opinion of what you would do and what you hope a family member does on this decision. But it's a simple yes/no question of who gets to be the decisionmaker in this case. There's no nuance to that.

    And with it pushed down to the states, as Pols points out, the AG is an incredibly important person in terms of how it will play out in Colorado. Even with the recent legislation.

    So yeah, just play that answer in the TV ads and Kellner will go down to well deserved defeat.

    1. I don’t think he had to specifically say he was “pro-life” (quotes are mine).

      His personal position is implied by his support of the decision, accompanying Dobbs, that overturned Roe v. Wade on a 5-4 vote. There actually were two separate SCOTUS votes. As an attorney, he should know that.

      1. Dobbs was a 6-3 decision — with a bit of a complicated "vote" of 3, 2, and 1, adding up to 6, and 3 in a dissent.   "opinion by Justice Alito on June 24, 2022. Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions. Chief Justice Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan filed a dissenting opinion."

          1. because I wasn't quoting the full opinion, just giving the count.

            ALITO , J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which THOMAS , G OR-
            SUCH, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT , JJ., joined. THOMAS , J., and KA-
            VANAUGH, J., filed concurring opinions. ROBERTS , C. J., filed an opinion
            concurring in the judgment. BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., filed
            a dissenting opinion

            You can see the whole combo at


        1. It's better viewed as a 5-1-3 decision.  The majority overturned Roe.  Roberts concurred in the judgment only and wouldn't have reached the question of overturning Roe.  But a majority overruled Roe, which was a 7-2 decision.  Then there's lumpy thomas's concurring opinion, which would gut numerous long-standing cases.  Originalism:  18th century thinking for the 21st century


          1. I watch MSNBC. No political commercials.
            I watch Peacock. No political commercials.
            I watch Netflix. No political commercials.
            I visit 50+ websites a day and see no adverts—for anything.
            Non-first-class postal mail goes straight to the recycling bin without even a glance.

            Where are these adverts?

    1. It really doesn't matter how many voters would vote without party ID — unless there is a Constitutional Amendment, AG will allow people to list their political party on the ballot.

      Between now and the end of the election, there will be a fair amount of political party work to make activists aware of ALL of the people on the ballot in each area.

      When non-activists are staring at their ballot in October and early November, I suspect the combination of the names being there AND the media coverage of the race will make most aware of who is running for AG. 

      And it matters both because of the job of AG includes decisions on how the state will use its resources to enforce the law AND because most AGs in Colorado have gone on to serve in additional political offices — and one-time District Attorneys most often do not. .

      1. Colorado Democrats are already running a decent coordinated “slate” campaign- I left dozens of these walk pieces featuring Polis and Bennet, with “also running” Pettersen, Young, Weiser, Griswold, and Plomer at doors while canvassing last month.

        We can always hope that #COGOP is too relentlessly cannibalistic to ever cooperate like this.

  2. While I appreciate the sentiment, and the odds that Republican Attorney General candidate John Kellner would not defeat incumbent Democrat Phil Weiser were already quite low going into the debate, I think that the post vastly overstates the extent to which voters will care in casting their votes. Anyone who would seriously consider voting for a GOP AG candidate isn't going to be too troubled.

  3. Artistic license perhaps, but it seems to me as if Kellner's trying to tell people that Reproductive Health Equity Act is settled law, so there's no need to worry.

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