Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Denver Voters Select the Progressive Candidate for Mayor – Anticipated

Mike Johnston sworn in as Denver mayor - Colorado NewslineMike Johnston sworn in as Denver mayor - Colorado Newsline

The contour of the final result in the June 6 mayor’s election was set in the April 4 first round election with a four-point spread between front runner Mike Johnston and runner up Kelly Brough. It was reinforced in the first and only reported poll in the runoff showing a five-point advantage for Johnston. The early results and poll showed that the most liberal voters were trending to Johnston and more moderate and conservatives to Brough, but in a city that voted 80% for Joe Biden, and in 2022 by more than 50 points for the entire top of the Democratic ticket, Brough was in trouble at the start.

Denver Mayoral Runoff 2023

Although both candidates had some liberal and conservative endorsers and donors, the two most noteworthy, well identified liberals (previous candidates), Leslie Herod and Lisa Calderon, supported Johnston. Calderon, who came in a close third, was highest profile “progressive” in the race. The Brough endorsement that sent the strongest conservative message was from the police union. He was endorsed by the more liberal Denver Post and she by the conservative Denver Gazette.

Both were well funded. Brough was expected to get the city’s local developers and business contributions and she got most of them. Johnston’s side collected more in total contributions, largely from out-of-state wealthy friends and liberal interests. But his surfeit of money did not win the race; it may have added points to the total, but the direction and advantage of Johnston was in place early.

Leadership Survey
A leadership survey conducted the week before the election anticipated the results. Out of 16 business, media, political and non-profit leaders, a majority preferred Brough, but only a quarter thought she would win. Most believed both could do the job well enough and they were relieved the first election avoided extremes. They believed Denver was ready for a reboot and knew progressive voters held the advantage. Their biggest concern the last week was possible hard left tilt in the new city council.

Denver Mayor Race Leadership Preferences and Winner
Mayor’s Race Started Slow and Close. Ends Negative and with Little Passion
Denver Mayor Race Starts Slow

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