April 30, 2007

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper Cruises To Reelection

Denver's snoozer of municipal election will culminate with Mayor John Hickenlooper's coronation reelection. From CBS4's gratuitous hagiography:
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper isn't facing much opposition as he runs for a second term in office.

Only one person stepped forward to challenge Hickenlooper. Danny Lopez, a city employee, doesn't think any politician should run without opposition. Former Mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Pena both faced aggressive challengers in their second term elections.
Denver, despite the non-partisan election rule, has become a de facto one-party state, like many other urban areas. Contested elections only arise from a competitive Democrat field. Republicans are few and far between.
This city election hasn't been getting much attention. Part of the thinking is that people in general are much more absorbed with national issues, especially the war in Iraq, but it is also because even his detractors believe Hickenlooper is simply unbeatable.

"In the last the months, my wife was looking at me and said, 'If you have such an easy election, how come you're working so hard?'" Hickenlooper said.

It is remarkable there has been no serious campaign against him. Even he is surprised at his enduring popularity.

"I never thought about it. As kind of a skinny geek in school, I worked pretty hard to figure out how to make people like me," Hickenlooper said. "I learned how to tell a joke from my older brother."
Perhaps we should forgo formalities like elections and just proclaim Hickenlooper Mayor-for-life.
Former Denver City Councilwoman Susan Barnes-Geldt said the mayor's quick wit and quirky charm has allowed him to survive issues that could easily have taken others down.

"He is by magnitude the best retail politician the city maybe has ever seen, people love him," Barnes-Geldt said. "You know, he got a remarkable free ride from just a lousy snow removal. Even worse, the elections in November, and people seem to be willing to shrug their shoulders, which is remarkable."

Hickenlooper said if he is reelected, his second term will be all about following through on ambitious initiatives.

"Whether you're talking about homelessness or economic development, whether you're talking about 311 or reforming the city's structure, whether you're looking at mass transit, trying to get mass transit back on track," Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper managed to retain his teflon reputation--though during the depth of Denver's post-blizzard digout, Hickenlooper's facade showed a few cracks, and his characteristic wit disappeared behind excuses, platitudes, and tentativeness. Illegal immigration does not appear to be a city priority, what with Denver's virtual sanctuary status enshrined by activists in all levels of the city government.
"Did we really create 50,000 jobs?" Barnes-Geldt asked. "Is the city really a better place to work for city employees? Is the city safer?"

Barnes-Geldt concedes she's probably a much tougher critic than the average voter, especially this year in a ho-hum election -- one where even Hickenlooper's opponent said he's only running so the mayor doesn't win unopposed.

"I appreciate him going out and taking his time and trying to create a dialogue about what the future of this city looks like," Hickenlooper said of Lopez.

The biggest complaint heard about Hickenlooper is that he's never seen a tax increase he didn't like, but if that's true, that also has not hurt him yet.
That's true of all Democrats, not just Hickenlooper.
This is also a non-partisan election. Even though he's a democrat, there's no name republican to run against him. The joke around town is that they are only a handful of republicans in Denver anyhow.

Hickenlooper knows he needs to do more in the city's struggling neighborhoods to raise Denver up. There needs to be more amenities for the communities who really need more recreation centers and help with gang violence and those problems.

Hickenlooper also has a massive new justice center project to oversee and he's lost members of his cabinet. He needs a new city attorney and economic development director.

Denver's election is being conducted entirely by mail, so there shouldn't be a repeat of problems seen in November's elections. Then, voters waited in long lines at new voting centers after computers that were supposed to verify voter eligibility stalled.
Only a "handful" of Republicans around Denver? Try 70000. Imagine if they disparaged, oh I don't know, one of the permanently aggrieved groups with such marginalizing wording. But Republicans? There aren't enough to be worried about. And fighting gangs with more "amenities", eschewing law enforcement, and other "feel good" Hickenlooper initiatives can't go wrong, can it?

Mayor Hickenlooper, just like the election, simply mailed in his performance the last few years realizing he would cruise to reelection without a credible high-profile opponent. Of course, being a Democrat--or a "democrat"--in Denver can't hurt

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