DENVER (CBS4) – In 4 weeks voting begins in Denver’s mayoral race. Ten people are on the ballot and three candidates now have ads on television. But for many voters this remains a sleepy race.
The ads may not be particularly original — Denver’s last mayor actually did jump out of a plane. It’s that they’re on the air — period — that means maybe the mayoral election will finally be on the city’s radar.
“I think there’s a huge chunk of this town doesn’t even recognize John Hickenlooper isn’t still the mayor,” political analyst Eric Sondermann said.
That may be a stretch, but most people probably don’t know who is vying for the job. There’s one ex-state senator, two city workers, three city council members and a man who’s made the study of extraterrestrials his cause.
In terms of money, former state Sen. Chris Romer leads the pack with $732,452. He’s followed by city council members Michael Hancock with $442,845, and Carol Boigon with $415,052.
Sondermann said in Denver, the candidate with the biggest war chest doesn’t always win.
“Let’s not forget there’s a track record of Denver mayor races that turned on anything but money,” Sondermann said.
He says endorsements can be key. City worker James Mejia scored the biggest yet with Federico Pena. And don’t underestimate the power of TV. Hickenlooper harnessed a TV ad so successful that Boigon decided to copy it.
As for the negative ads, several candidates have hired firms to start digging. But Sonderman said they’ll likely hold fire while the race is still wide open.
“Yes you can fire a shot at Candidate X and maybe you can hit Candidate X with your shot, but that doesn’t necessarily accrue to your benefit. It may accrue to benefit of candidates A, B, C, D,” Sondermann said.
In May voters narrow the field from 10 to two. Those two go head-to-head in a June runoff. Then the mudslinging begins.
For now it’s anyone’s guess who the front runners are.
“Denver mayor races are a whole different breed,” Sondermann said.
If Pena, Wellington Webb and Hickenlooper are any indication, the underdog may be the one to watch.
“There’s something about Denver’s mayor races where underdogs seem to gain traction. And the question is whether that will happen this time around, and who is that underdog, because there’s a lot of people auditioning for that role.”
So far Hickenlooper has not endorsed any candidate, but he has not ruled out backing one either.