The Denver mayor’s race has grown unexpectedly nasty, with frontrunner Michael Hancock being targeted with false claims that Tom Tancredo endorsed him and more. The latest? A Complete Colorado report that attempts to link Hancock to the Denver Players prostitution ring that spelled doom for Judge Edward Nottingham. Hancock’s campaign manager sees the report as utterly false and reprehensible.
Complete Colorado builds its story on a document on view below and accessible by clicking here. It’s basically a log sheet that lists a “John” referred to as “Mike Handcock,” a payment amount of $275 and the notation “Wrks4City.” Prior to launching his mayoral bid, Hancock was a city councilman.
Campaign manager Evan Dreyer confirms that the number listed on the document is the same as Hancock’s personal cell — a topic of conversation this morning on Peter Boyles’s KHOW talk show. Nonetheless, he stresses that the report is “categorically untrue,” adding, “Michael and the campaign have endured negative, false, deceptive attack after attack for months, so nobody should really be surprised at this. The thing that’s different about this one is just the personal nature of it, and how shameful it is.”
When we first saw this story yesterday on the hideously-designed conservative site Complete Colorado, we waited to weigh in while we considered the story and the source. Embedding a PDF of a mostly-blacked out document isn’t exactly a smoking gun, after all.
But the one thing that we kept coming back to as we considered the story is this: If these allegations are really just “a political hit job,” then why are they coming out now?
If you were anti-Hancock, or just preferred his opponent, Chris Romer, and you wanted to use this as a way to damage Hancock’s campaign for Mayor, why would you sit on this until less than a week to go before Election Day — particularly when the voting is all being done by mail? Today is the last day that you can still mail your ballot and feel assured that it will arrive at the Denver Clerk’s office in time to be counted — there’s simply not enough time for this story to have a significant impact on the outcome of the Mayor’s race. If you wanted to use this story to impact the race for Mayor, you needed to put it out last week at the latest. We still need to see more proof to believe this story, but the too-late timing of its release actually makes it slightly more plausible.
All of this got us thinking about this story not in terms of the race for Mayor but about what comes next. If this story is true — and that’s a big “if” — and Hancock ends up winning the election on Tuesday…then what? Hancock has talked frequently about his plan, for example, to hire a new Police Chief and Manager of Safety, but he’d have a tough time legitimately overhauling the Denver Police Department if he himself was involved with a notorious prostitution ring. If this story is true, Hancock would step into office with one hand tied behind his back — and that’s assuming he would even make it to the inauguration. The calls for Hancock to step down would begin immediately if more came out about this story.
With just a few days to go until the votes are tallied for Mayor, this story is unlikely to have much of an impact on the outcome of the race. But that doesn’t mean it is necessarily any less significant.