Friday, April 21, 2023

Observations of Denver Mayoral Runoff

Mike Johnston and Kelly Brough Mike Johnston and Kelly Brough | Photos by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

The April 4th Denver election was not Chicago. The most viable progressive came in third. The first Denver Post runoff interview tried to ferret out any differences in the two establishment candidates besides gender. The differences were mostly tactical on the key issues of homelessness. Some early observations:

Left or Right

  • Both candidates must more than double their April 4 vote percentage. Arguably, progressives had at least a quarter of the vote (Calderon 18%, Herod 9%, half of Hansen and Ortega, other scattered progressives). On the right was Rougeot’s 13 percent and other scattered votes for maybe 15-17 percent. The advantage is on the left but a smash-up of left-right could be assembled.


  • With little to distinguish the candidates, money will be spent wildly on persuasion and GOTV. Will the candidates go negative? Yes, reluctantly because of blowback, but if race is close, it will be essential.


  • Turnout will be mediocre due to the lack of an angry anti-establishment candidate. Unless something changes, the two policy wonks debate style will not fire up much of the electorate.


  • A primary concern of many voters is how far left Denver will be pushed by the new city council and general gestalt of the “equity agenda.” Neither mayoral candidate is a favorite of the progressives but both are pragmatists and will deal with the political reality.

City Council

  • Big money will be spent to promote and stop the socialist candidates running for city council. Regardless of the result, the council will be very liberal.


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