John Kellner is a Republican politician in Colorado who currently serves as the District Attorney for Arapahoe County. He gained notoriety in 2022 when he unsuccessfully ran for Attorney General of Colorado, losing in the November general election.
Early Life and Education
John Kellner was born and raised in Colorado. He attended Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora before going on to study political science at Colorado State University. After graduating from CSU, Kellner went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.
Early Legal Career
Before becoming District Attorney, Kellner worked as a prosecutor in the 18th Judicial District for nearly a decade. He started as a deputy district attorney before being promoted to chief deputy district attorney. During this time, he prosecuted major felonies like murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, and crimes against children.
District Attorney of Arapahoe County
In 2020, Kellner ran for District Attorney of Arapahoe County and won the election. He assumed office on January 12, 2021. As DA, he oversees all prosecutions of violations of state laws in Arapahoe County. He manages a staff of prosecutors and investigators.
Major Cases and Initiatives
As DA, Kellner has overseen several high-profile cases. In one 2021 case, he successfully convicted a defendant of first-degree murder and other charges related to a deadly road rage incident.
Kellner has also made initiatives around mental health a priority during his tenure. In 2022, his office launched a Mental Health Response Team to connect low-level offenders experiencing mental health crises with services and treatment options rather than jailing.
Controversies and Criticisms
However, Kellner has also faced controversies as DA. He received backlash in 2021 for deciding not to file charges against police officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain in Aurora. Critics argued he was biased in favor of the police.
His office has also seen high turnover of prosecutors, with many resigning due to low morale and distrust of management. Kellner has pledged to improve the office culture.
2022 Campaign for Attorney General
In September 2021, Kellner announced he would run for Attorney General of Colorado as a Republican. He went on to win the Republican nomination unopposed in the primary.
Positions and Priorities
During his campaign, Kellner emphasized public safety and getting tough on crime. He advocated for supporting law enforcement and cracking down on auto theft and organized retail crime rings. His campaign also focused on addressing the fentanyl crisis and opioid epidemic.
Campaign and Fundraising
Kellner raised over $600,000 for his AG campaign as of October 2022. He touted endorsements from a number of Republican sheriffs, district attorneys, and law enforcement groups.
However, his campaign struggled to gain traction overall. He was relatively unknown statewide compared to his Democratic opponent.
Loss in November Election
In the November 8 general election, Kellner lost to Democrat Phil Weiser, the incumbent Attorney General. Weiser defeated Kellner by over 13 percentage points.
Following his loss, Kellner said he planned to continue serving as DA through the end of his term in January 2025. He did not rule out running for office again the future.
Political Views and Positions
Criminal Justice Reform
As a former prosecutor, Kellner has been skeptical of major criminal justice reforms. He opposed Colorado’s 2021 police reform bill that eliminated qualified immunity for officers, arguing it went too far. However, he has supported expanding diversion programs and treatment options for low-level offenders.
Kellner is a strong supporter of gun rights and opposed to stricter gun control laws. He has criticized Colorado’s red flag law and universal background checks.
Kellner identifies as pro-life on abortion. As a candidate for AG, he said he would defend any new restrictions on abortion passed in Colorado.
Kellner has voiced support for expanding school choice programs. On fiscal issues, he supports lower taxes and limiting government spending.
John Kellner resides in Arapahoe County with his wife and two young daughters. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, mountain biking, and golfing.
John Kellner is a rising star Republican in Colorado politics. As District Attorney of Arapahoe County, he has overseen high-profile cases while also implementing innovative programs. However, his 2022 bid for Attorney General fell short statewide. At just 44 years old, Kellner still has plenty of political potential in the future if he chooses to seek higher office again down the road. His career will be one to continue watching.
When did John Kellner become DA of Arapahoe County?
John Kellner assumed office as District Attorney of Arapahoe County on January 12, 2021.
What controversial case did Kellner’s office decline to prosecute?
As DA, Kellner chose not to file charges against police officers involved in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado.
What was a major initiative started during Kellner’s tenure as DA?
In 2022, Kellner’s office launched a Mental Health Response Team to connect low-level offenders experiencing mental health crises with services rather than jailing them.
Who defeated Kellner in the 2022 Attorney General election?
Democratic incumbent Phil Weiser defeated Republican challenger John Kellner in the November 2022 election for Colorado Attorney General.
What are some of Kellner’s political positions and views?
Kellner is pro-gun rights, pro-life on abortion, supports lower taxes and limited government, and is skeptical of major criminal justice reforms.