Apr 5, 2023 - News

Candi CdeBaca headed to runoff election in much-contested Denver race

From left: Denver City Council District 9 candidates Kwon Atlas, Darrell Watson and Candi CdeBaca. Photo: Courtesy of candidates' campaigns

Candi CdeBaca and Darrell Watson appear headed to overtime to determine a much-contested Denver City Council seat after neither candidate emerged with a majority in Tuesday's election.

Why it matters: The Democratic Socialists of America-backed CdeBaca is the most prominent progressive voice in Denver, and part of a progressive card of candidates looking to gain power in the city.

Driving the news: Initial election results at 10pm Tuesday showed CdeBaca trailing with 43% and compared to 46% for Watson.

  • A third candidate, Kwon Atlas, stood a distant third with 11%.

Be smart: The winner needs to top 50% in order to win; the top two candidates will face each other in the June 6 runoff election.

What she's saying: "If we gotta do this s*** again, we know how," CdeBaca said to a crowd of supporters at an election night party, where she also announced she's pregnant.

Catch up quick: CdeBaca's polarizing role on the city council made her the most targeted incumbent in this year's election.

  • The district she won four years ago is much different after reapportionment and now includes wealthy Park Hill neighborhoods in addition to her downtown base.

By the numbers: The race is the most expensive district contest in this year's election and saw dark-money groups pump thousands into super PACs.

  • Opponents spent more than $70,000 attacking CdeBaca — six times more than any other candidate — and $83,000 boosting Watson, campaign finance records show.

Zoom in: CdeBaca's campaign emphasized her community roots as a fifth generation Swansea resident and her push for economic and environmental justice.

  • Her critics highlighted her controversies and attempted to use her votes against major spending initiatives to undercut her image.
  • Major unions, including the firefighters, and the business community rallied behind Watson as the alternative.

What's next: The race is only expected to get more heated as it enters the next phase.

Editor's note: This is a developing story and will be updated.


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