Positive Campaign Propels Hancock to Victory in Denver
By Chris Kilgore
June 13, 2011
Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock claimed victory in the city’s mayoral runoff election June 7, winning by a margin of 58 to 42 percent over his opponent, State Senator Chris Romer. With this election, Hancock went from underdog to winner. An internal poll showed him at nine percent in late March.
The turning point in Hancock’s campaign was undoubtedly an endorsement from former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. Webb even endorsed Hancock over two members of his former staff who were also in the running. With Webb's endorsement, which came March 24, Hancock’s poll numbers quickly increased to 18 percent, bringing him within striking distance of the two frontrunners, who were at 22 percent, according to an April 17 Denver Post poll.
Hancock, from that point forward, continued to rise, placing second in the primary election, grabbing 27 percent of the total vote, beating out third place candidate James Mejia by less than 1.5 percent. Mejia focused on attacking frontrunner Romer leading up to the May 3 election, allowing Hancock to move above him and force the June 7 runnoff.
Hancock’s election story can be attributed in great part to his compelling life story, especially his rough upbringing in the streets of Denver. In one TV commercial, Hancock stated “My father left when I was six. We were ten kids in public housing, then homeless in a motel room…I’ve had a brother die of AIDS and a sister murdered, but I never gave up.”
His opponent, Romer, invested a large amount of his own money in his campaign and had considerable political experience. As the son of former Colorado Governor Roy Romer, he began the race as a frontrunner with a great deal of political clout and money. However, many believe that he turned voters off with some of his negative advertising.
Hancock, on the other hand, adhered to his pledge to remain entirely positive in his campaign, deciding early on not to do research on his opponents for the sake of negative ads. Hancock made his position clear in a Denver Post article, saying, “I won by remaining constant on my message and trusting the people of Denver to see the goodness of our campaign.”
Hancock will take over for interim Mayor Guillermo “Bill” Vidal July 18.