Columnists, Denver, Elections, Mike Rosen, Uncategorized

Rosen: A Republican’s mayoral election guide for one-party Denver

Denver’s 2023 Municipal General Election will be held on April 4 with most people voting by mail or at drop-off boxes before then.  Technically, it’s a free-for-all non-partisan election which means there’ll be no primary election, with candidates seeking the nomination of a political party.  To win election in a particular race like Mayor or a city council district, candidates must gain a majority.  If no one gains a majority, a run-off election will be held between the top-two vote getters.  Only for the two at-large city council seats will a candidate win with the most votes but less than a majority, a plurality.  I say the election is only “technically” non-partisan because Denver is a one-party town.  It’s near impossible for a Republican to win a city-wide vote.

The 17 candidates on the ballot for Mayor could make an all-star team for identity politics, with each favoring the special interests of their respective group or cause from Blacks to Latinos, to transgenders to sexual orientation to the homeless to bicyclists to illegal immigrants to the unions to climate change or to criminals.

Most of the field are vanity candidates with no hope of winning. Of the few likely contenders, most are pretty much alike. Mike Johnston is bright, but he’s a career educrat partial to the teachers union and not a likely supporter of school choice. The absolute worst in the field is State Rep. Leslie Herod, a belligerent progressive radical and divisive race-baiter with a nasty edge, known for mentally abusing her legislative staff.

As a partisan Republican, I hardly ever vote for a Democrat.  Although they have some good individuals, I oppose their party’s philosophy, public policy agenda, and coalition; and want my party to govern.  But realizing a Republican can’t be elected mayor in Denver, I voted for John Hickenlooper twice as the best alternative.  I also voted for Michael Hancock for Mayor as the best Republicans could do among the Democrat field.  He’s a friend, a moderate and had been the most reasonable member of a Denver city council dominated by dogmatic progressives.

Although the mayoral candidates concede Denver’s serious crime problem, with at least lip service, Andy Rougeot is the only one whose made it the centerpiece of his campaign, calling for 400 more cops and increased funding of law enforcement.  He also wants the camping ban vigorously enforced — as did the overwhelming majority of Denver voters in a 2019 ballot question.  Andy is a rare Denver candidate concerned about taxpayers and the general public welfare.  He’s a successful small business owner and military veteran and would be a good choice.  But he’s saddled with a serious handicap.  He’s a Republican — in Denver.

For arguments sake, let’s say as a sharp contrast to all the radical, woke progressives in the field, Andy was to finish second in the general election, with the front runner falling short of a majority.  In the run-off election to follow, the bulk of Denver’s overwhelmingly Democrat electorate — Denver Rep. Diana DeGette won reelection to her U.S House seat with 79% of the vote in 2022 — would surely flock to and elect whichever Democrat finished above Rouget in the general election.

I shudder to imagine that could be Leslie Herod.  If anyone would accelerate Denver’s current decline into a full-blown nosedive, it’s her.  Especially in league with the progressive radicals on the city council.  One such is Candi CdeBaca, a proud member of the Democratic Socialists of America who rejects the label of communist but hates capitalism and says, “I believe in community ownership of land, labor, resources, and distribution of those resources.”  She prefers the label of anarchist, which means no government.  Go figure?  I suppose she’d like to remake Denver into a 1960s hippie commune.  I really feel for Kevin Flynn, about the only level-headed moderate in the crew.

All this leaves Democrat Kelly Brough as the best choice for Republicans, reasonable independents and Democrats who want change.  She’s not a community organizer, political activist, or social justice warrior. She was the President and CEO of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and a former Chief-of-Staff for Mayor Hickenlooper.  She understands the synergy between business and government, and has a broader view of Denver’s positives, negatives and needs than the narrow-minded activists in the mayoral field.

Nevertheless, if Brough wins she won’t be an all-powerful Queen of Denver, just its mayor and would have to deal with a city council that’s now to the left of Boulder’s and a District Attorney soft on criminals.  Adding to this toxic mix is the Democrat super majority in the state legislature that has compounded our problems with legislation that makes crime pay, unsafe streets, regulations that discourage businesses, and energy policies setting unachievable goals that drive up prices for everyone.  This is the consequence of one-party rule, just like in California.

Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for


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