AURORA | Incumbent District Attorney Dave Young won the Democratic primary for District Attorney in the 17th Judicial District, topping a challenger who had beat him two months ago at the party assembly.
As of Wednesday morning, Young had 11,514 votes compared to 10,740 for Caryn Datz. That’s a margin of about 52 percent to 48 percent.
The judicial district is split between Broomfield and Adams counties, and the two counties are favoring different candidates.
In Broomfield, Datz topped Young by a margin of 64 percent to 35 percent, with 2,341 votes compared to 1,313 for Young.
But Young won vote-heavy Adams County by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent, with 10,201 votes compared to 8,399 for Datz.
Young said he was relieved to have the primary behind him and said his staff at the DA’s office is, too.
“There’s a sense of relief among all the employees in the DA’s office to know that things are going to continue to go well,” he said.
Young said politics has never been his forte, but said the close primary has made him more adept at the political side of the job.
“This has certainly opened my eyes quite a bit,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, Young said Datz had not conceded.
In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Datz thanked her supporters.
“As my last campaign post, I must express my eternal thanks to all my dedicated supporters — friends, family, colleagues, and all who believed in me and the reasons behind this campaign from the very beginning,” she wrote.
Young did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
The race for D.A. in Adams and Broomfield counties has rarely been a competition for the past several cycles, but this year’s race was different from the start.
Datz, a former Adams County prosecutor now working in Boulder County, topped Young at the party’s county assembly by a margin of close to 3-to-1, earning her top billing on the primary ballot and forcing Young to petition onto the ballot.
Young was critical of the assembly process after that vote, pointing out fewer than 300 party activists voted at the assembly, compared to the more than 1,000 who signed petitions putting Young on the primary ballot.
The winner of the primary is set to face Republican Molly Jansen, a Henderson defense lawyer, in the general election. The seat has leaned Democratic in recent years and the party holds a voter registration advantage in Adams County, but recent commissioner elections have favored Republicans. Young came to the 17th in 2005 after more than a decade prosecuting cases in El Paso and Teller counties. Before he was elected DA, Young handed several high-profile Aurora cases, including the prosecution of a man who gunned down an Aurora police detective in 2006. The killer was sentenced to 80 years.
Young was also the lead prosecutor in the Quality Paving cases, a scandal that saw several county officials convicted of corruption.
Datz started work at the Adams County office in 2006 and worked there until 2013 when she took a job in the Boulder County prosecutors office, where she specializes in sex crime prosecutions. During her time in Adams County, Datz prosecuted a man who set a fatal fire at a north Aurora apartment complex. In that case, Datz secured the conviction of Douglas Taylor, who was subsequently sentenced to almost 300 years in prison in 2010. A co-defendant entered a plea agreement and was sentenced to 60 years.
If elected, Datz has said she would set out to make the DA’s office not just more active in the community, but more reflective of the community as well. Right now, the DA’s office has few prosecutors who are people of color and few women or minorities in upper management.