Romer, Hancock likely head for Denver mayor runoff
May 4, 2011
DENVER (AP) – A city councilman and a former state senator who’s the son of an ex-governor are the two top vote getters in the first round of Denver’s mayoral election.
Chris Romer, best known for making changes to Colorado’s medical marijuana industry, finished first in Tuesday’s election. Unofficial results show he got 28 percent of the vote. Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock finished second with 27 percent.
Since neither won 50 percent of the vote in the 10-way race, they’ll likely meet in a June 7 runoff election.
Former school board member James Mejia finished with 26 percent, about 1,500 votes behind Hancock, but had yet to concede. His campaign did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press to talk about their plans.
The seat was vacated when former Mayor John Hickenlooper was elected governor.
Although Mejia has not conceded, Romer and Hancock had declared victory and were hosting events Wednesday to talk about the runoff and plans for the city if they become the next mayor. Romer told reporters Wednesday morning he was “honored to be in the runoff with Michael.”
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“I think it’s important that we’ve had an opportunity to bring this race down to two people,” said Romer, whose father, Roy Romer, was Colorado governor from 1987 to 1999.
Hancock also told supporters Tuesday night he was “one step closer” to being mayor.
“The only commitment I want to make is to never give up,” he said. “And so tonight let me proclaim: It’s on.”
Hancock planned an event Wednesday afternoon to launch his runoff campaign.
The crowded campaign had 10 candidates and an unenthusiastic electorate voting in an all-mail election. Candidates courted voters at all-night restaurants and bars and canvassed neighborhoods, offering to pick up and deliver ballots. Some 38 percent of Denver’s 299,167 registered voters cast ballots.
The election saw a wide divide among candidates in terms of fundraising. That, in part, led political observers to believe the race was a three-way contest among Romer, Hancock and Mejia.
Romer raised about $1.4 million, while Hancock raised $791,200 and Mejia $571,300.
The job is a tough one: The winner will have 60 days after the July 18 inauguration to close a $100 million budget deficit for 2012. And the candidates are vying to replace Hickenlooper, a Denver favorite.
“I think there’s a letdown. Hickenlooper was a very popular mayor,” Roanne Kuenzler, 57. “There’s no one as exciting as he was in the race.”
Kuenzler said she voted for Mejia because she thought he would advocate for education, given his school board background.
“It’s key,” she said. “It’s the solution to all of our problems.”
Norman Provizer, a professor of political science at the Metropolitan State College of Denver, said all-mail elections usually help turnout. But this race been has been one “without a lot of buzz.”
“None of (the candidates) has really ignited in the sense of capturing a lot of overt public attention,” he said.
Also, the top candidates are Democrats who don’t differ much on major issues, Provizer said.
“There really hasn’t been this clash of wills over high-profile issues,” he said.