GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Colorado's major party candidates for attorney general engaged in their first — and lively — debate over their respective credentials in their race to succeed Republican Cynthia Coffman.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that Republican George Brauchler and Democrat Phil Weiser challenged each other's experience during the Saturday debate sponsored by Club 20, an association of counties in western Colorado.

Brauchler is a suburban Denver prosecutor known for prosecuting Aurora theater shooter James Holmes. Weiser is a former University of Colorado law school dean who served as a deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama. He also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and served in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton.

"My career has been one of service, starting in the Supreme Court, working in the Justice Department under two presidents," Weiser said.

"The attorney general is the protector of Colorado ... and I have spent my entire life as a defender, a protector," Brauchler countered. "A defense attorney, a prosecutor, I've been a civil plaintiffs lawyer, a civil defense lawyer, I've been a military prosecutor and a military defense lawyer. I have tried cases at every single level, municipal, state, federal and military."

Coffman, who was elected in 2014, mounted an unsuccessful bid for her party's gubernatorial nomination this year.

Candidates for state treasurer and secretary of state as well as Colorado's expansive 3rd Congressional District also debated Saturday in Grand Junction.

Brian Watson, CEO of an investment firm and the Republican treasurer candidate, questioned whether Democratic state Rep. Dave Young had the business experience needed for the position.

"The role of the treasurer of Colorado is different than the founder and CEO of a company," Watson said. "You have to understand that what goes up comes down, and somebody like you who has never invested your own capital alongside other people to try to make return, you may not understand the risk and reward."

Young cited his work as a member of the legislature's powerful Joint Budget Committee.

"I have an actual fiduciary responsibility to the state, like the treasurer's office, so I actually have that experience," he said.

Democrat Jena Griswold, an attorney seeking to unseat Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams, declared that the office should do a better job of helping businesses register.

"Excellent suggestion," Williams responded. "We just did it."

Williams and the office of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper created a website this year to guide entrepreneurs through each step of the business registration process.

Health care, energy development and immigration policy topped a tough back-and-forth between GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, first elected in 2010, and his Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.

Tipton claimed Mitsch Bush favors a single-payer health care system, suggested she'd support so-called "sanctuary cities," and has yet to take a position on a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal on the West Coast that could tap western Colorado's natural gas reserves.

"It is the right of cities and towns to decide what happens within their boundaries, not the federal government," Mitsch Bush said of whether municipalities choose to collaborate with federal immigration authorities.

Mitsch Bush said she was reserving judgment on the LNG project known as Jordan Cove. And she — as well as Tipton — said they'd fight for increasing health care access and lowering prices for district residents, many of whom pay some of the nation's highest health insurance premiums.

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Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com