Editor’s Note: John Walsh suspended his Senate campaign on September 11, 2019.
Resume: Attorney, prosecutor, and former U.S. attorney for Colorado during the Obama administration
Give me your 30-second elevator pitch: Why are you running?
John Walsh: I got into this race because, after a lifetime of working in public service and in the legal system, I’m concerned that the functioning of our democracy is in a moment of crisis. We need to have a U.S. Senate that is effectively acting as the Constitution requires to check the power of the president. I also think that we have a government that does not represent the best interests of the people of Colorado. I grew up here in a very middle-class area with an ordinary background. I had great opportunities to become a lawyer and become a federal prosecutor, and I worry that those opportunities are much harder today.
What sets you apart from the other Democratic Party candidates?
I have experience working all over the state—not just in the Denver or Boulder area, but in the Four Corners, the Eastern Plains, the Western Slope—with people of different backgrounds to address real problems and find real solutions. That knowledge of the state is exactly what a U.S. senator needs. I also have experience fighting for Colorado in Washington, D.C. as a U.S. attorney. I understand how difficult that environment is. I have spent a lifetime working to make sure that regular Coloradans are represented, and I will do exactly that as Colorado’s next U.S. senator.
What is your top policy priority?
First is health care—making sure that we take the successes of the Affordable Care Act and build on them to ensure all Coloradans have access to high-quality, affordable health care. That means a public option; it means taking action to ensure prescription drug prices are not astronomically high; and it means fighting to ensure that people across the country are not bankrupt when they get sick. Close behind that are public lands, the environment, and climate change. We need to be aggressive, thoughtful, and pragmatic about moving this country to a clean-energy economy, and we have to do it in a way that protects Coloradans who are working in industries, such as fossil fuel and coal, that are going to be affected by that move.
How would you ensure Colorado’s interests are met in Washington, D.C.?
First, it’s important for a U.S. senator from Colorado to spend time all over the state talking to Coloradans to understand what the needs of the state are. A senator has to be willing to do public meetings and town halls and listen to people, even when they may not always agree, and use that information to inform the way he represents Colorado. As a U.S. senator, I would wake up every day thinking about what I can do to advance the interests of Colorado, and sometimes that means working with people across the aisle to come up with solutions that may not be perfect, but are moving the country forward. I believe there are times when you have to be willing to achieve an immediate step in the right direction rather than fighting for the perfect solution down the road.
How would you work with an increasingly divided Senate?
I know from personal experience that it’s possible to work with people and get policies completed even if you disagree. As a U.S. attorney for the Obama administration, I worked closely with rural sheriffs all over Colorado with very different political backgrounds, and we were able to get things done. Washington is a difficult environment. It often feels incredibly divided. But I believe you work with people of goodwill to achieve small victories where you can and then work toward developing the relationships necessary to tackle the hard issues.
What is something voters might not know about you?
They probably don’t know that I was an exchange student in Mexico when I was 13. I’m a Spanish speaker and have spent my entire life working to be fluent. I’ve spent a whole lifetime working in the Spanish-speaking and Latino community, because that community is very near and dear to my heart.
Now for the lightning round….Pick one:
Broncos or Rockies?
I-25 or I-70?
National Western Stock Show or a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre?
Coors Banquet Beer or a Colorado craft brew?
Colorado craft brew
Hike a fourteener or raft the Arkansas River?
Fall foliage or wildflower season?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or Rocky Mountain National Park?
Wyoming or Utah?
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.