Thursday, April 13, 2023

Denver Election. Money Talks.

Election Results and Fundraising Totals

The 2023 Denver mayoral election was more steady hand than bold direction.

  • Money, the campaigns it buys and attention it brings, made the difference for Mike Johnson, who ran a near saturation ad campaign toward the end, and Kelly Brough, who managed a cautious campaign highlighting her experience and life story. Denver’s low turnout election was dominated by older voters who wanted experience and moderation not new faces and hard left or right solutions.
  • In an election that spent more than $10 million, the two winning candidates benefited from 60 percent of the expenditure, more than half of it from independent expenditures “dark money.”
  • This is the second mayoral election Lisa Calderon came in third and out of the runoff. With previous name identification and a progressive anti-establishment message, she outperformed her money. The team of “socialists” running for City Council and Mayor had mixed results. Incumbent councilwoman Candi CdeBaca was forced into a runoff. A “socialist” won the at-large race but others are in runoffs.
  • Ethnic and progressive appeals were divided and didn’t move sufficient voters for Lisa Calderon, Leslie Herod, or Debbie Ortega. Together, it’s a large block of votes that if Calderon had received another 3,500 she would have come in second.
  • Turnout was below 2011 levels where 113,000 turned out, or 49 percent of active voters. This year, 38 percent of voters turned out, or 174,000. The overall campaign lacked fireworks or a breakout personality or theme. The Fair Campaign Fund encouraged a mass of unknown and underwhelming candidates that confused voters.

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