Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has endorsed Matt Maillaro, a Democratic candidate for district attorney in the 18th Judicial District primary, the prosecutor's campaign announced.
Ritter, who served as Denver's district attorney before his election as governor, lauded the veteran assistant district attorney's "keen vision and plan to implement real reform" in a statement supporting Maillaro, one of two Democrats running for the south-metro office held by term-limited Republican George Brauchler.
Maillaro is running in a primary against Amy Padden, a prosecutor who ran last year for attorney general. John Kellner, Brauchler's chief deputy district attorney, is the only Republican in the race.
"Our criminal justice system needs leaders willing to challenge the status quo and create meaningful reform," Ritter said in a statement. "Matt Maillaro brings 22 years of prosecution experience to the job and has outlined a keen vision and plan to implement real reform as district attorney in the largest district in the state. That is why I am pleased to endorse him in this race."
Saying he understands "the need for experience, vision and strong partnerships to make change happen," Ritter continued, "I am convinced that Matt's platform of meaningful and intelligent reform, always focused on improving public safety, will make a lasting impact on the entire community."
Ritter added that he is confident Maillaro will be the first Democrat elected in the district.
Maillaro said he learned as a young lawyer from Ritter, describing the former prosecutor as "an ethical and progressive leader in criminal justice."
"More than 20 years ago, Bill Ritter discussed his upbringing and how it influenced his ideology as Denver’s DA," Maillaro said in a statement. "He discussed the role of a prosecutor as doing more than just putting people in jail; he said they should educate the community's kids and try to reform juvenile offenders and give drug offenders a chance to keep a clean record."
Noting that his endorser established one of the first drug courts in the nation in 1994, Maillaro vowed to follow Ritter's lead to "apply my experience toward real reform that will have a positive and lasting impact on the community."
The 18th Judicial District is the state's largest, with nearly 1 million residents in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. There are more Republicans than Democrats in the district, but they're both outnumbered by unaffiliated voters. Its voters have only elected Republican DAs since the district was formed in 1962.