The Week that Was in the Race for Mayor of Denver

The race to become the next Mayor of Denver is so crowded and difficult to follow that we thought it might be helpful to provide regular updates about endorsements, fundraising, polling, and other items of interest that took place in the last week.

We’ll try to do this every week, including a mini version of “The Big Line” that explains who we think are the top five candidates at the moment. We’ll do our best to present information that we think is particularly relevant, interesting, or entertaining in relation to the first open race for Denver Mayor since 2011.


Voting Information

March 13: Ballots start going out in the mail
April 4: Election Day
June 6: Runoff election if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote



There are 17 candidates on the ballot. Several others are running as “write-in” candidates, but we’re not counting them because they have no chance of winning.


The Top 5 (This Week)

  1. Debbie Ortega ↑
  2. Leslie Herod ↑
  3. Mike Johnston 
  4. Chris Hansen
  5. Kelly Brough ↓

This is our estimation of the top five candidates at the moment. Ortega is well ahead in the only public polling that is available (albeit a poll from Ortega’s campaign) and is racking up big endorsements (UFCW, UNITE Here, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters, former State Sen. Lucia Guzman).

Herod picked up the endorsement of former Mayor Wellington Webb this week. Johnston, Hansen, Herod, and Brough are leading the field in fundraising, which is generally a good indicator of support overall — though voters seem to be generally unfamiliar with Brough (see below).



According to polling data released by the Debbie Ortega campaign, she is well ahead of the rest of the field at the moment. Anybody polling below State Rep. Alex Valdez is in trouble considering that Valdez dropped out of the race last week.

Denver voters might think Mike Johnston and Chris Hansen are the same person:


Internet Tube Troubles

According to this confusing Denverite story, Lisa Calderón is having trouble making sure that voters can access her 2023 campaign website rather than the site she had when she was a mayoral candidate in 2019.

“We have a beautiful new website,” Calderón told Denverite. “I love our website. But we can’t get people directed to it in a way that is going to really help push us forward, at least on the internet.” Are there other places you can access a website aside from the internet?

Calderón’s 2019 website was “” Her new website is “” Calderón’s campaign is blaming the problem on a cybersquatter, but this sort of thing happens when you let your domain name lapse.

Some candidates are having trouble figuring out how to use social media. Kelly Brough’s campaign sent out this unfortunately-worded tweet this week:

“This one is owned by a woman of color.” Oof.

Brough’s campaign also sent out a tweet this week about her “homelessness action plan” that didn’t bother to provide a link to said plan…which sort of defeats the purpose of the entire exercise.

Brough’s plan seems rather incomplete anyway, judging by this story from Denverite. Good luck making sense of this word salad from Brough:

“I think what you do is, we tell people: ‘you can’t camp,’ and we have options though. We’re gonna move you to the shelter, the house … people hear, ‘if you’re not sweeping, then you’re allowing camping.’ No, I’m not.”


WTF Is James Walsh?

James Walsh will be on the ballot and won’t have to run as a write-in candidate, which is good news given his apparent difficulty with the English language:


According to his website, Walsh learns people about history and political science at the University of Colorado Denver.


17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Dano says:

    I think I would go with Lisa Calderon in the top 5 rather than Mike Johnston. Johnston is a perennial also-ran. I’ve lost track how many times he has run for various offices and not won. I have no doubt he has his core supporters, but he doesn’t seem to ever get beyond that core.

    Calderon has been creating some buzz about her candidacy at least. To the point I know who she is, which is more than I can say for most of the candidates.

    Still not sure who I will vote for though. Probably whoever seems to have a well-thought-out plan to address the sharp increase in criminal activity in the city. I’m not holding my breath any of them will, so I guess my default would be Chris Hansen, only because I know him best (and not in a negative sense like a couple of the others).

  2. 2Jung2Die says:

    Walsh has apparently hired ChatGPT to write his social media content

  3. ohwilleke says:

    FWIW, the criticisms of Brough and Walsh in this post come across as petty and pedantic. I don’t hold tweets with a very limited number of characters, or short social media posts, to the same standards as a published academic journal article.

    OTOH, Brough’s pitch isn’t very good. “My spouse committed suicide”, for example, which her pitch hits pretty hard, just doesn’t make me naturally think, “therefore  you will be a good Mayor.” IIRC, her pitch also plays up her ties to the Chamber of Commerce, which also isn’t an affiliation that most Denver voters, myself included, see as valuable. And, when you are running for Mayor in a big city, name recognition matters. We shouldn’t have heard of you for the first time two months before ballots go out if you want to have a viable shot. An association with a popular politician like Hickenlooper is a plus, but people need to know you in your own right too if you’re running for a post as senior as Mayor of a major city.

    It certainly doesn’t look like we will be seeing a first round win for any of the candidates which requires a majority of votes validly cast for a Mayoral candidate, so the polling for first and second choices does make sense.

    • 2Jung2Die says:

      Sorry, but I can't agree on the Walsh part. I can be very forgiving of the occasional tweeted typo, but in my opinion, when you're running for Mayor of a major city you've got to do better than the samples Pols posted.

  4. kwtree says:

    Convivio Cafe is worth checking out, although I don't know if I would say the same for Kelly Brough.

    Convivio is one of the few places in town serving Guatemalan food and coffee It aims to be a community hangout as much as a restaurant. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is pleasant and colorful, with gorgeous Guatemalan tapestries and  paintings everywhere, and the food and coffee are great.

    As far as my pick for Mayor, either it's Debbie Ortega, who has emphatically paid her dues for decades in Denver, or Leslie Herod, who is a fresh, progressive voice.

    • TigerInBlueDenver says:

      I've lurked long enough. Time to enter the fray as a commenter. Both would be fine choices, I suppose, but I'm going with Calderon as my lead. I would have had Herod and Ortega in my top 5 or 6 but for Leslie's vote last year on fentanyl re-felonization. That and continuing sweeps are deal breakers. I'm really sad about Walsh's own goal…he's actually incredibly brilliant and one of my favorite humans but very few people know him. The same might be said of Tafoya.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Debbie Ortega is the Democrat equivalent of Republican Faye Griffin in JeffCo. Time for professional politicians to move on.

        Convivio Cafe looks interesting.

        • kwtree says:

          The difference is that Faye Griffin was bad at all the jobs she was appointed to, but resigned early from. Griffin is a shameless opportunist. 

          Debbie Ortega, on the other hand, is a deducated public servant who has held the same at-large City Council seat since 2011 because she is good at her job, and listens to her constituents, who then re-elected her. I particularly respect Ortega’s practical work on environmental justice- she was speaking out for Globeville residents impacted by pollution from Suncor and lead from highway traffic before anybody else would touch that issue. 

          • Conserv. Head Banger says:

            Just depends on one's perspective. I don't live in Denver, but I find better candidates on that list.

          • Lauren Boebert is a Worthless POS says:

            Ortega may have acquired her current council seat in 2011 but she sure pre-dates 2011.

            I remember voting for her when she ran for the city council in District 9 in 1991 when I lived in Denver. And I got the feeling that she had been around for a while even back then.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      I don’t get a vote in this election but I do think the Mayor of Denver has a bully pulpit for issues that ripple far beyond city boundaries. Two examples are how we develop a robust local food system driven by urban demand, another how Denver becomes a carbon-neutral city by engaging agriculture statewide in carbon-reduction schemes.  I’m a fan of Leslie and will do my part “outside the boundaries” to give her support. 

  5. davebarnes says:

    My wife tells me that is time for a woman to Mayor.
    So, I will be voting for the tallest one.

  6. Southwest Denver Dem says:

    I find it interesting that there are 2 candidates for Denver Mayor coming from the Colorado General Assembly. Neither candidate (Herod and Hansen) have been endorsed by their fellow caucus members, either those currently serving or those who are recently term limited.

    One friend of mine is staunchly opposed to Hansen believing that his energy policies he conned fellow Democrats into passing are really self serving tools to benefit his side business running a think tank. They believe these policies are directly responsible for our ever increasing Xcel bills.

    As for Herod, she’s not well liked by her fellow caucus members, most characterizing her as a bully. That may just be mean gossip but the fact that she was never elected to any leadership positions by the Dem caucus, despite her multiple efforts at least suggest there’s something to the story.

    I agree that it’s time for Denver to elect a woman as Mayor, it’s time for breaking that glass ceiling.

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