Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The Denver Mayoral race is making up for lost time in the Spring where it was sleepy and boring. Now it is anything but sleepy, with major endorsements, negative ads and new polls popping up throughout the first week or so of the runoff campaign. If the rest of the campaign is this lively, we’ll all forget about how quiet March and April were.

While both Chris Romer and Michael Hancock have received a variety of endorsements, two major names hit headlines this week. Former Governor Bill Ritter endorsed Hancock and former mayoral candidate, James Mejia endorsed Romer. Even though these endorsements seem balanced, with one big name versus another, both endorsements actually give an edge to Hancock.

The Ritter endorsement says more about Romer than it does about Hancock. Even though Hancock has some past history with Ritter, Romer has worked much closer to Ritter as a State Senator throughout Ritter’s term as Governor. Ritter had a much closer look at Romer and his leadership style than he had at Hancock. Voters must wonder what Ritter saw that made him take a stand in a race that few really expected him to take, especially against the guy who he has more recent work experience.

Mejia’s endorsement at first seemed like a major boost to Romer. Mejia carried 25% of the May vote and would seemingly be a very effective voice in the Latino community. But the only problem is that Mejia’s endorsement came with a high price tag.

Only days after the Mejia endorsement, Romer changed his mind on one of the most significant issues that he differed with Hancock, the retention of the position of Manager of Safety. Romer was set to cut the position if elected, until apparently James Mejia and Theresa Spahn convinced him to think otherwise. The only problem with that math is that Romer was still talking about cutting the position after Spahn’s endorsement, meaning Mejia was the convincing vote.

It won’t take a marketing genius to figure out how to bludgeon Romer with this flip-flop and it won’t take a fundraising genius to use the Ritter endorsement as a tool with potential funders.

Romer needs to make sure that the Mejia endorsement is worth the price that he has had to pay. I expect to see Mejia to back up his endorsement with some serious work throughout Denver. It’s in both the interests of Chris Romer and James Mejia to make sure voters forget about the flip-flop and remember what James Mejia can bring to the campaign.

In the end, most voters won’t base their vote on who another politician supports. Endorsements can really only take a candidate so far, or drag them down so low. Endorsements won’t decide a race, but they can make a significant difference with fundraising and momentum. Those two elements can and will decide a race.

In just a few short weeks, we’ll be able to tell how these endorsements affected the momentum of the race. If these first days or so are any guide, it’s going to be a wild ride to June 7th.

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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