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May 20, 2023 01:56 PM UTC

Kelly Brough is the Denver Republican's Candidate for Mayor

  • by: Colorado Pols
The Denver GOP’s endorsement of Kelly Brough is a textbook “Kiss of Death.”

The runoff election to determine the next Mayor of Denver is just 10 days away (June 6), and by most accounts the race between former State Sen. Mike Johnston and former Denver Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough could come down to the wire.

Ballots are sitting on kitchen tables; television ads are running non-stop, debates are taking place seemingly every other day; and new endorsements are being touted right and left. Well, mostly “left,” but on Friday a curious new endorsement from the “right” was making news.

As Kyle Clark reports for 9News, the Denver Republican Party has endorsed Kelly Brough for Mayor.

As far as we can tell, Brough has not rejected the endorsement of the Denver Republican Party. We wouldn’t expect her to run away from this support anyway, since Brough’s campaign has been actively courting Republican voters.

As Clark noted later:

Republicans make up 9.5% of registered voters in Denver. The only Republican candidate in the 16-way unaffiliated first round was Andy Rougeot, who received 11.5% of the vote. Rougeot is not endorsing either runoff candidate.

Brough told Dan Caplis after the first-round election on April 4 that she was hoping to gain the backing of Rougeot and his supporters. It’s not a terrible idea to seek out the support of Denver Republicans (in theory), but we sure as hell wouldn’t talk about it openly and risk alienating the overwhelming number of Democrats in Colorado’s largest city.

Brough spoke to the Denver Republican Party at its “First Friday Breakfast” on May 5 — an invitation that Johnston wisely ignored — which apparently played a role in gaining the Denver GOP’s support. Here’s what the Denver Republican Party said about Brough in an email distributed on Friday:

Denver GOP is endorsing Kelly Brough. She has served as a Chief of Staff to Hickenlooper, and has spent a her political career working with Democrats. [Pols emphasis]

However, she came to our First Friday Breakfast last week and communicated many common sense ideas. She addressed REAL problems Denver County residents have in their everyday lives.

We do not know how she will govern if she wins, but Brough stands out by not using Marxist vocabulary and by actually addressing taxpaying residents’ concerns. There are too many people serving in Denver County elected postions [sic], like City Council and Denver Public School Board who are openly promoting Marxist ideas. These people must be called out and rejected.

In recent months, Brough has made regular appearances on right-wing radio shows hosted by the likes of George Brauchler and Mandy Connell, both of whom were outspoken supporters of Heidi Ganahl, the 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate who suffered a 20-point loss to Democrat Jared Polis (Ganahl later said that “conservative radio in Colorado is the only way we got our voice out”). As Clark noted on Friday evening, Brough’s conservative background makes it unsurprising that Denver Republicans would be inclined to offer their endorsement.

Yet there is a fine line between trying to appeal to Denver Republicans and making it known that you are courting the GOP, and that’s where this strategy goes awry. We’re certainly not the only political observers who are perplexed that Brough would want to be publicly supported by a Denver GOP that openly advocated for Rougeot two months ago:

Former Democratic State Rep. Susan Lontine understands why this might be a bad idea.


On sheer numbers alone, it will be Denver Democrats who will ultimately decide the outcome of this mayoral race. Voters who might still be undecided in this contest won’t be confused any longer once they learn that Brough has been endorsed by the Denver Republican Party. If we were Johnston, in fact, we wouldn’t run another television ad that didn’t mention this endorsement front and center.

There was a time when appealing to all sides of the political spectrum might have been a wise approach for a candidate in a “nonpartisan” municipal race, but that was before Donald Trump and the MAGA movement drew a bright red line in the political sand. Whatever benefit Brough might get from the 10% of registered Republicans in Denver will pale in comparison to the blowback she’s going to receive from this news.

The only thing worse would be getting endorsed by Tom Tancredo.


10 thoughts on “Kelly Brough is the Denver Republican’s Candidate for Mayor

  1. Scary …

    of course, Mike Johnston has been endorsed by The Denver Post editorial board.  And on his website, he has a headline about "Elected Officials" who have endorsed him that is totally blank. [do you want a mayor who doesn't have a team looking at and correcting websites?]

    Most of the "progressive" candidates wound up endorsing Johnston.  The last that I saw:

    Calderón, who missed the runoff by 3,143 votes, offered a less than resounding endorsement Tuesday, saying picking Johnston is her "harm-reduction strategy" and she arrived at the decision reluctantly.

    "Either way, one of these two people will be elected, and so how can we work with the person who may be most open to change, who will be most open to hearing our voices and moving us forward into a new future and being collaborative?" Calderón said.

    Little has changed from the Colorado Pols column way back in March:  Here’s What Happened in the 2023 Denver Mayoral Race

    …Johnston came across as a guy who just wanted to be elected to SOMETHING. 

    Johnston also had the same potential (unavoidable) problem as Chris Hansen: They are financially-comfortable middle age white dudes. With the exception of John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayors in the last three decades have been Black or Latino. Denver has also never elected a female Mayor. More progressive voters ultimately had a tough time convincing themselves to vote for a white dude in 2023.


  2. Will Pols also be reporting on some of the news now coming out about Mike Johnston? Like allegedly claiming credit for work on COVID that he didn’t do? Or allegedly adding his name as a co-sponsor of gun bills after they had already passed?

    In addition to Republican support, Ms. Brough also has support from liberals like Wellington and Wilma Webb and former Governor Bill Ritter. Why the focus just on Republican support? If you prefer Johnston, why not just come out and endorse him?

    1. I was amused by the Aurora Sentinel's take QUIDNUNC: Aurora’s run-on spectacle, and Denver mayoral claim to vain

      QUID HAS HEARD that the pervasive guns war in the metroplex and across Colorado has been won by legislative gun-control nabobs, and that all the guns may already be long gone. Or so it would seem, according to Denver mayoral hopeful Mike Johnston’s campaign. Seems that Johnston has been blitzing the Facebookverse with ads touting his anti-gun-lobby prowess, and that he already conquered the NRA, back when he was a wily lawmaker in the state Senate. Perhaps it’s another NRA, or the son of NRA, that seems to be alive and well and suing any state trying to enact real gun control and keeping Wayne LaPierre in mansions and missions.

    2. Holdeth not thy breath.

      There’s nearly as little chance of that as us ever seeing an objective view diary here even slightly critical of any Hickenlooper commission or omission.

      1. Well….I know Alva is a “giddy-up” fan, but John has been called out here many times for his warm, friendly relationship with the Oily Boyz. Just because he moved out of the governors’ mansion doesn’t mean his membership in the “Fossilonian Benevolent Society” has been revoked.

        I have been a detractor of Gov. Frackenlooper since he scuttled the work we did on the O&G rules back in 2009. He has yet to atone for his duplicity and betrayal.


  3. Love the photo of the 'kiss of death'.  Whoever thinks of this stuff should work for The Onion. Oh that's right.  It's a regular news organization now.

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