DENVER (AP) — The district attorney who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooting case on Monday ended his campaign to become Colorado's next governor so he could instead run for state attorney general.

Republican George Brauchler made the decision after current Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, also a Republican, announced her gubernatorial campaign last week. In an email to supporters on Monday he said that activists and donors had been pleading with him to switch races to keep the top law enforcement post in the party.

"I have been asked to redirect my passion for improving Colorado as governor to instead protecting Colorado by fighting for the position of attorney general," Brauchler wrote.

Brauchler's gubernatorial campaign had struggled to raise money and stand out in a crowded field that includes former Rep. Tom Tancredo, state treasurer Walker Stapleton and businessman Doug Robinson. In his email, Brauchler quipped that "any day now, I expect John Elway, Todd Helton, Wonder Woman, and Santa Claus to jump into this race."

Democrats have a similarly crowded gubernatorial field with Rep. Jared Polis, former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, Lt. Gov Donna Lynne and former State Senator Mike Johnston vying for the party's nomination. Several Democrats are also running for attorney general, including State Rep. Joe Salazar, prosecutor Michael Dougherty and former University of Colorado law school dean Phil Weiser.

Brauchler, who is district attorney for the 18th Judicial District that includes Arapahoe and Douglas counties, told KOA-AM that he would help rural areas fight black market marijuana and battle the opioid crisis if elected.