Apr 5, 2023 - Politics

What the election tells us about Denver voters

Mayor candidate Mike Johnston hugs supporters at an election night event at the Maven Hotel in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver's election delivered a collective message from voters:

  • Homelessness and crime are major concerns, but pragmatic solutions are preferred over drastic course corrections pitched by candidates at the far reaches of the political spectrum.

Driving the news: In the mayor's race, voters advanced Mike Johnston and Kelly Brough — two safer-bet candidates with track records and well-funded campaigns — to the June 6 runoff election.

What they're saying: "It was a good night for those with reputations for working in pragmatic and collaborative ways," Alan Salazar, Mayor Michael Hancock's chief of staff, told Axios Denver.

Zoom in: Two candidates on either side of the political spectrum who finished far behind the leaders in the mayor's race offered clues about voters' mindset, political strategist Eric Sondermann told us.

  • Lisa Calderón positioned herself on the far left as she pledged a compassionate approach to helping the city's vulnerable populations, but Sondermann said the results show progressives are "not a major constituency."
  • The solid finish from Republican Andy Rougeot, who campaigned as a crime fighter, shows voters are in a "rather unsympathetic, tough-on-crime and homelessness mood."

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