Friday, May 6, 2011

Why the Denver Mayor’s Race Will be Close

The Denver mayor’s race has many conditions that should lead to a close election. The two candidates came out of the general election with similar vote margins (27% Hancock and 28% Romer). They have similar possibilities for raising funds, even if Romer is stronger with out-of-state sources from his bond house relations and father’s contacts. They both have a polished political speaking style. Hancock is personable and friendly; Romer is fast-talking and makes business-like points.

But, what may most define the closeness of the race is that Denver voters are evenly divided in their fundamental values concerning government size and funding – one of the key issues in the campaign and the one Romer hammers the hardest as “Dr. No.”

In a recent Ciruli Associates poll, likely Denver voters were described Mayor Vidal’s revenue and expenditure committee and asked if they leaned toward cutting more out of government or adding more revenue. They were closely divided.

In the first debate sponsored by DDI and others, it was clear Hancock supports a balanced budget, but he emphasizes social justice when considering cuts and the distribution of services around the city, whereas Romer stresses budget cutting and especially targets city employees. Romer’s aggressive style questioned Hancock’s vote on a pay raise a couple of years ago. He was obviously trying to highlight Hancock’s recent vote for a council pay raise without saying it.

Hancock must be mindful that Romer’s strategy is to make him the Don Mares of the runoff, Denver’s last minority candidate who became the representative of government and city employees. He was left with 35 percent of the runoff vote. John Hickenlooper crushed him.

Romer, no doubt, scored points with the business crowd and was far more aggressive in debate style, but ultimately Denver likes its austerity with a deft touch for what Hancock alludes to in his slogan, “We are all Denver.”

No comments: