Stan Garnett
Stan Garnett

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers hung on to his job Tuesday, beating Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett in the race for the state's top prosecutor.

Suthers, a Republican, was leading his Democratic opponent 57 percent to 43 percent, with nearly half of the precincts reporting as of 11 p.m.

"I think the voters of Colorado appreciated the job I've done over the last four years," Suthers said after receiving a concession call from Garnett around 9:45 p.m.

He said he liked debating his opponent about the constitutionality of health care reform and the need for consumer protection.

"I think we were two intelligent people, two good lawyers," he said.

Garnett said he also enjoyed the campaign and the opportunity it gave him to bring several issues -- consumer protection, accountable management, and keeping the AG office non-partisan -- to the fore.

"We were an advocate for what Boulder County does well in law enforcement," Garnett said.

Suthers has been the state's attorney general since 2005, when he was appointed to the seat after Ken Salazar ran for U.S. Senate. Suthers then ran for the seat in 2006 and won.

Garnett jumped into the race in the spring after Suthers joined more than a dozen other attorneys general across the country to sue the federal government for passing a health care reform bill. Garnett claimed that the state attorney general shouldn't enmesh Colorado in a lawsuit that originated in Florida.

Suthers countered that he joined the suit as a matter of law, saying that the federal legislation unconstitutionally requires U.S. citizens to purchase a service.

At first, both candidates locked horns over campaign finance allegations and then, late in the campaign, Garnett launched political ads that focused on Lafayette FBI informant-turned-serial killer Scott Kimball.

Garnett accused Suthers of being out of touch when he served as Colorado's U.S. attorney in the early 2000s, during a time when prosecutors in Suthers' office repeatedly worked to secure and maintain Kimball's freedom.

Kimball went on to kill four people while acting as an FBI informant.

Suthers said he never knew who Kimball was and left decisions about his role as an informant to the attorneys who worked for him. He said Garnett's decision to politicize the Kimball case "was unbecoming of a good lawyer."

Garnett said he has no regrets bringing up the issue because it showed voters how critical it is that the person at the top of an organization knows what's going on with matters in his or her office.

John Suthers
John Suthers