DENVER — As Denver voters gradually return their ballots before Tuesday’s Election, there are several questions looming. How they are answered will ultimately decide whether Mayor Michael Hancock is elected to a third term or whether Jaime Giellis becomes Denver’s new mayor.
Can Hancock overcome basic math working against him?
At the very basic level, Hancock faces a math disadvantage going into Tuesday’s runoff.
60% of voters who participated in the May election voted for someone other than Hancock. Hancock received around 40%.
The recipients of most of that vote were Penfield Tate, Lisa Calderon and Jaime Giellis. Giellis finished second with 25%.
59,000 people voted for Tate and Calderon.
Both of those candidates have endorsed Giellis. Do the voters follow? Or does Hancock steal enough votes away?
Does homeless policy drive voters?
Voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure to repeal the city’s urban camping ban in the May election.
The urban camping ban is what allows for so-called “homeless sweeps” of homeless persons and their belongings from parks and sidewalks.
As we reported, Hancock is for keeping the urban camping ban.
Giellis says she would work with city council to replace the urban camping ban. Giellis’ position is the most nuanced as previously she seemed to embrace repealing the ban outright arguing it criminalizes homelessness and spends way too much money incorrectly. Giellis has been accused by some as flip-flopping on the issue.
Do sexual harassment allegations cause Hancock to go down?
Hancock has won elections before with his conduct in question, however, never has a current Denver police detective held a press conference six days before an election accusing him of sexual harassment.
While the text messaging harassment scandal is not new, Det. Leslie Branch-Wise’s press conference this week did force Hancock to apologize — again — regarding the incident. This time, his apology focused on suggesting the texting relationship was consensual in a Denver Post debate.
Does this register with voters? Does the #MeToo movement impact the race?
Do Giellis’ gaffes hurt her chances?
Giellis had multiple gaffs involving minority communities early in the runoff campaign.
She forgot the acronym of the NAACP when on a Colorado Facebook Live program that focuses on African-American issues.
Giellis then deleted tweets from several years ago that question why so many cities have Chinatowns.
Giellis also faced criticism for hosting a “low rider” campaign event at a Denver Mexican restaurant. Is this on the minds of voters?
Who actually votes?
Let’s face it: it’s June. People are on vacation.
Do voters actually turn in their ballots? Do minority groups come out? Do frustrated natives? Do content millennials? We won’t know until Tuesday night.
The candidates’ ground game to turn out votes will likely decide this race.
Are voters actually paying attention to how poorly both campaigns have been run?
Both candidates have had issues that might turn off voters. But were voters tuning in?
From Hancock’s debate gaffes to Giellis’ tweets, neither candidate executed their campaign plan 100% going into the runoff.
A perfect example is Giellis’ recent mailer which called for an “urban campaign ban” as opposed to an “urban camping ban.” Do typos matter?
What will the results tell us?
If Giellis wins, she will make history as the first female mayor of Denver and catapult to a rising star in Colorado politics. “The Midwestern transplant takeover of Denver” would to some degree be in full swing. Giellis was born in Iowa.
Her victory would signal major frustration among Denver residents, even though by nearly every metric, Denver is thriving compared to previous years.
If Hancock wins, it would signal Denver residents are content with the progress of the city.
Hancock’s political career would continue for four more years and would solidify his status as a “major mayor” in Denver’s history.
Questions would likely surface regarding what might be next for Hancock. A congressional run? A run for governor?