Written by Dominic Dezzutti

We are officially less than two months away from the Denver Mayoral election. My question to you is, especially if you are a resident of Denver, do you have any idea who is running yet?

There are likely some very dedicated voters who have maybe attended one of the few forums that have occurred, or maybe they have kept up on The Denver Post’s series of questions that they have asked the candidates.

However, I am assuming the average Denverite knows more about the new Denver Nuggets acquired from the New York Knicks than they do about the 18 people running for mayor.

To state that this is a problem would be a major oversimplification. Of course it’s a problem, but trying to figure out why this is happening is a better use of our time.

I’m not a political scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but nonetheless, I have some theories on why none of the Denver mayoral candidates have yet to catch much momentum on the campaign trail.

1. Fear of the Favorite – For the last three major mayoral elections, the favorite of the pack in March has been trounced in June. Federico Pena, Wellington Webb and John Hickenlooper were long shots at best in March of their respective elections. The general consideration at this point is that being cast as a favorite is the kiss of death for a candidate’s campaign. The problem is, that even though this fear is somewhat justified, refusing to gain momentum based on this fear gives you very little chances of ever becoming the favorite. It’s like refusing to ever be in the lead of the Tour de France. I understand the strategy, but a t some point, you have to start the sprint.
2. Missing the X Factor – Besides sharing underdog status, another factor shared by the last three Denver mayors is the fact that each of them, Pena, Webb and Hickenlooper, all found a certain X Factor on the campaign trail. Each of them found something that made them stick out in a positive way that rose above politics. For Pena, it was his youth matched with his motto, “Imagine a Great City.” For Webb, it was the idea of walking the entire city on the campaign trail. The sneaker logo became a way of life and a symbol of willing to connect to voters. For Hickenlooper, his geek chic became practical chic when he avoided politics completely and said his first move as mayor would be to lower parking meter rates. All three rose above politics and found a unique and very effective voice.
3. Not Enough Time to Brew a Replacement – When then-Mayor John Hickenlooper jumped into the Governor’s race in early 2010; his announcement became just one event in a series of surprising and sudden moves in Colorado politics. And since everyone thought Hickenlooper would actually face a pretty significant fight in a year predicted to sway Republican, common sense and good taste prohibited any likely mayoral candidates to bide their time until October or November to really get their machinery going. In mayoral elections past, candidates were brewing their campaigns for months, and in some cases, years. With most candidates starting their campaigns only a few months ago, frankly most of them have not had enough time to gel or gain any traction.

Like I mentioned, without any professional political scientist experience, my theories are just as valid or crazy as anyone else’s. But one thing I do know is that with less than two months to go, if any of these mayoral candidates hope to be victorious in June, they better find a way to build some momentum, quickly.

At some point, it’s simply too late to sprint to the finish.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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