CBS4 Denver reports, as of this moment we still don’t technically know the winner of the extremely close race to be the next Mayor of the city of Aurora, coming down to just a few hundred votes with lots of procedural finger-pointing–and enough ballots waiting to be “cured” to at least hypothetically swing a race in which former GOP Congressman Mike Coffman holds the narrowest of leads:
People living in Aurora still don’t know who will be their next mayor. Even though Tuesday was Election Day, there is still some confusion with the ballots…
The difference is 281 votes. On Friday, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold tweeted about 828 replacement ballots that remain in question. Griswold blamed the U.S. Postal Service.
“The bottom line is that the Post Office understood that they had a problem on Election Day. They called all their carriers to come back for an emergency, pickup these ballots and send them out, but they failed to notify us,” said Griswold.
The race between Coffman and progressive challenger Omar Montgomery became a national proxy fight over gun violence after national gun-safety groups weighed in against Coffman, casting his longstanding support from the National Rifle Association as out of step with a city trying to heal from tragedies including the July 2012 mass shooting at Aurora’s Century Theater. Despite Coffman’s double-digit drubbing at the polls in 2018 when he lost the congressional seat that represents the city after years of splitting tickets in a Democratic-leaning district, most political observers have considered Coffman to be the favorite in the Aurora mayoral race based on sheer name recognition.
But the razor-thin margin between Coffman and Montgomery in this race doesn’t tell the whole story. Ryan Frazier, the former Republican congressional and U.S. Senate candidate among other failed runs for office, who (not that anyone really cares) changed his affiliation to independent earlier this year, and received nearly 12,000 votes in the mayoral race, appears to have played a decisive role in spoiling what would have otherwise have been a comfortable win for Omar Montgomery. Frazier served on the Aurora City Council until 2011, but had in fact moved away from the state eschewing politics before coming back to launch this longshot bid to be Mayor.
Given the results, some more conspiracy-minded readers might even suspect that Coffman and Frazier were working together to ensure the opposition to Coffman was fractured. We ourselves try not to attribute to treachery what can be explained by incompetence, as the saying goes, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary we’re willing to go along with the more likely scenario that Mike Coffman is simply the beneficiary of Ryan Frazier’s endless supply of hubris.
Depending on the final count and the available ballots left to “cure,” Coffman may get lucky. But anyone hoping for a “Coffman Comeback” narrative coming out of this election should be aware that luck is not synonymous with strength–and whatever the result, the real story of the 2019 Aurora mayoral election is that Coffman is weaker than conventional wisdom held.