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Jason Eley withdraws from 6th Judicial District attorney’s race

Sean Murray now the lone candidate in primary election
Jason Eley, assistant district attorney in Montezuma County, has withdrawn from the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s race. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Jason Eley, a candidate for 6th Judicial District attorney, has withdrawn from the Democratic primary to serve as top prosecutor for a three-county region in Southwest Colorado.

His decision to withdraw came one day after his opposing candidate, Sean Murray, was named by Gov. Jared Polis to become district attorney for the 6th Judicial District. Murray, who was sworn in last week, will serve out the remainder of Christian Champagne’s term, which was set to expire in January 2025.

Champagne, who was term-limited, took a senior counsel position with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to advise and support rural district attorneys statewide.

Eley sent an email last week to La Plata County Democratic Party Chairwoman Anne Markward announcing his decision to withdraw from the primary election.

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to be involved in the race to be a candidate for the Democrat party in the district attorney race for the 6th judicial district,” Eley wrote. “I wish you all the best of luck in your choices moving forward. I am no longer a candidate for this election cycle and withdraw my name from consideration.”

Eley also sent a statement to The Durango Herald on Friday showing gratitude toward Gov. Jared Polis for being considered as interim DA.

“My heartiest congratulations go out to Sean Murray and every good wish for a successful administration. I appreciate the Governor’s Office selecting three qualified applicants capable of replacing the outgoing District Attorney, Christian Champagne,” Eley said in the statement “I am disappointed at not being selected as the finalist to be appointed as the District Attorney to serve the 6th Judicial District. Fortunately, the selected candidate will benefit the community by sharing his vision to promote community safety.”

He also thanked supporters, the governor’s office and those involved with his campaign.

“I am confident all of Southwest Colorado will continue to contribute to Colorado being one of the safest states in the nation,” he said. “I have great faith the community, Republicans and Democrats alike, will unite behind our next District Attorney.”

Eley declined further comment when reached Monday about his decision to drop out.

Eley serves as assistant district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District overseeing Montezuma and Dolores counties. He was seeking the top position in the 6th Judicial District, which covers Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata counties. Eley was running on a “smart on crime” platform that sought to reduce recidivism through diversionary programs.

During a candidates’ forum, Eley said he would rather release 10 guilty people than convict or hold in jail one innocent person. He also championed alternatives to incarceration.

With Eley out, Murray appears to be the only remaining candidate for district attorney.

Murray said he plans to wind down fundraising efforts and focus solely on his job as interim district attorney.

“Unless somebody else enters the race, I'm just going to kind of focus on our day-to-day operations and making sure that we're pursuing excellence,” Murray said.

Murray wished Eley the best of luck with his work in the 22nd Judicial District.


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