Charlotte’s Biggest Loser? Denver Mayor Michael Hancock

Cross-posted from Denver Pols. Just a whopper WTF moment that was the talk of the Colorado delegation for the last two days.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention, taking part in the DNC not as a delegate but instead to “attend meetings and to promote Denver.”

And what better way to celebrate the Mile High City — where the first debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will be held next month — than attacking the President whose convention you’re attending?

From Eli Stokols at Fox31 Denver:

But Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, in an interview with FOX31 Denver, went off the script, openly criticizing the Obama campaign for its sustained effort to pressure Romney to release his tax returns.

“It’s unfortunate that this campaign has gone all over the place where we’re talking about someone turning in their tax returns, things that really don’t matter to me,” Hancock told FOX31 Denver. “Someone else’s tax returns are not going to put food on the table of my neighbor who may have been unemployed for a year.”

The answer came in response to a question that had nothing to do with tax returns: [Pols Emphasis] “how do you think the president is going to win Colorado?”

“If you talk about the issues that matter to me the most: my safety, my children, my education, my jobs, my health care, now you’ve got my attention, and I’m going to tune in. So we want to turn that conversation back to the things that matter most, and the president’s been doing it. We want him to get more on that platform, and I think you’ll see more of that in this convention.”

Asked to clarify whether he was truly disappointed in the Obama campaign’s focus on Romney’s tax returns, Hancock said this:

“I think it’s my role as a Democrat, as a mayor who supports the president, to say to the president and his people, ‘Listen, it’s not about Romney; it’s about the American people’.

“And that’s just part of being an adviser and a friend and someone who supports you.”

What. The. F***?

First off, Hancock has absolutely no obligation to mirror Obama campaign talking points about tax returns or any other matter, but as the elected mayor of the largest city in a critical swing state — and as someone who thinks of himself as a potential national star — this is a pretty dumb political move. There’s no excuse for Hancock, a Democrat who has previously applauded much of Obama’s work in the White House, to go so far off message, especially when the reporter isn’t even prodding that kind of response…

 

Seriously, Fox31 threw the Mayor one hell of a softball question: “how do you think the president is going to win Colorado?” He wasn’t asked about the economy, about job creation, about bond yields, or anything cerebral or specific. All Hancock had to do was say something to the effect of “Colorado voters understand that Barack Obama’s policies have brought the economy back from the brink and created jobs in Denver and across the state.” Instead, he took that softball and decided to use it to criticize Obama during the freakin’ Democratic National Convention.

We don’t have any reason to believe that Hancock consciously intended to hurt Obama’s re-election campaign. Rather, his asinine remarks are a stark reminder that he is nowhere near ready for primetime politics. This was absolutely an avoidable and inexcusable mistake that Hancock walked into completely on his own. Hancock is one of the highest-profile Democrats in Colorado, but we’d venture to say that just about every other lower-tier Democrat would have been smarter about this.

As stupid as it was for Hancock to unnecessarily criticize Obama, it’s not his fault exclusively. Apparently nobody from the Mayor’s press team went with him to Charlotte. That’s right: the elected, Democratic leader of a major American city was sent into one of the biggest media frenzies of the decade without anyone to assist him. We can’t overstress how uncommon this is — even small-town politicians bring someone with them to manage interviews and appearances. This was an incredibly irresponsible error by Hancock’s staff and the Mayor himself.

Hancock can certainly recover from this, but make no mistake — this is the type of high-profile error that can dog a politician for years. This is a silly, amateurish fumble that makes Hancock look vulnerable to a challenge in 2015. It’s the kind of mistake that creates the wrong perception for such a high-profile politician. And as we all know, in politics, perception is everything.

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Let’s Make a Trade!

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: We added something to the guidelines (after the jump) to clear up some confusion.

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Today is the trade deadline in the NBA, and while professional basketball may not interest you, it got us to thinking about what would happen if you could trade elected officials (insert obvious jokes here).

For example, would you trade Republican Rep. Mike Coffman for Democratic Denver Mayor Michael Hancock? This is a purely political exercise, so don’t worry about policies or ideologies. Think of Democrats and Republicans as two different sports teams, so if they are traded they assume the general ideology of their new party.

In the case above, a Democratic Coffman would let the donkeys gain, and probably hold, another Congressional seat while also taking Coffman out of a potential Senate race in 2014. In exchange, Republicans would get the Denver Mayor’s office, which can be a great bully pulpit and fundraising position (yes, we know that the Denver Mayor is technically “nonpartisan,” but Hancock is absolutely a Democrat). The downside for Democrats is losing control of the city that is the very heart of the state; the downside for Republicans is that Hancock would face a strong challenger for re-election.

Go ahead and propose some theoretical trades in the comments section, and we’ll take the best and most interesting and put them to a vote in a later post; we’ll also post our own mock trades a bit later.

Click to read the guidelines after the jump, and remember: This is a game of politics, not policy. The point of a trade would be to theoretically make your “team” (in this case, your political party) better as a whole and in stronger position to win future elections.

 

Let’s Make a Trade Guidelines

UPDATE: The political office that the person currently holds goes with them in a trade. If you trade Sen. Michael Bennet to the Republicans in exchange for State Sen. Greg Brophy (an example from the comments below), Bennet is still a U.S. Senator — but he’s now a Republican Senator.

  • The trade must be theoretically acceptable to both sides. In other words, you wouldn’t get anywhere by proposing a trade of Sen. Mark Udall for a Grand Junction city council member.
  • If the trade were accepted, the elected officials would change parties and essentially vote/govern the exact opposite of their current stance. Basically, they are playing for a new team and would be expected to help their new friends.
  • Whoever is traded would have to run for re-election as a member of their new party. You could trade Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) for Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), but they would both almost certainly lose a re-election bid.
  • Current and past politicos are eligible to be traded. You could swap Democrat Bill Ritter for Republican Bill Owens and run a former governor for a future office.
  • Don’t be afraid to put together a nice package trade. Would Republicans trade Rep. Cory Gardner and Coffman in exchange for Gov. John Hickenlooper?
  • Feel free to propose trades of national politicians. You can also trade someone who is not an elected official but a serious power broker nonetheless (Tim Gill, Larry Mizel, etc.)
  • If we need to clarify further, we’ll answer questions from the comments thread with updates to this list.

    Hancock’s Office Still Working Out the Kinks With Media

    Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is celebrating his first 100 days in office, and he’s no doubt hoping that the next 100 are (relatively) free of more of the weird, poorly-thought-out gaffes coming from his press shop. As Fox 31 News reports, announcing the new Denver Police Chief somehow became really difficult:

    Denver mayor Michael Hancock has selected Louisville, Kentucky Police Chief Robert White to become the next Denver Chief of Police.

    Hancock, who wasn’t planning to make the announcement Friday, hastily scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m.

    Before Hancock’s office was ready to announce the choice Friday, White’s department in Louisville put out its own press release that he was taking the Denver job. Earlier Friday, Hancock’s press secretary Amber Miller said that “we’re continuing our review process and hope to have someone appointed soon.” [Pols emphasis]

    This isn’t as bad as trying to bar reporters from using tape recorders, but it is really a silly mistake for Hancock’s team. It’s quite clear that this decision had been signed, sealed and delivered before today, but it would appear that nobody was communicating with the City of Louisville on the timing of the announcement. That kind of thing is incredibly important in the Internet age, where it’s just as easy to find out about an announcement in Louisville as it is to learn of one down the street.

    Hancock’s team got bad press in early August for being a bit too excited to push his “story” to the national media. If they don’t start getting more careful, and fast, that story is going to write itself…but not with the narrative they are looking to find.

    Cross-Posted at Denver Pols

    Sen. Greg Brophy Wants Those Hippies Gone

    FRIDAY UPDATE 6:30AM: After an apparent standoff most of the night, police moved in after 6AM and are, as of this writing, clearing out tents and other structures from Lincoln Park. Media reports upwards of 1,000 protesters overnight.

    —–

    UPDATE #3 10:45PM: Police appear to be preparing to enforce the order that protesters not camp in the area surrounding the Veteran’s Memorial. A sizable crowd has formed in the park.

    —–

    UPDATE #2: 9NEWS reports:


    [I]n a statement Thursday morning, Governor Hickenlooper clearly stated that the protesters have until Thursday night to pack their bags and leave. He claims that although he agrees that these protesters have a right to speak their mind – their camping out overnight could be dangerous to the public.

    Mark Silverstein, the ACLU legal director, felt that the posting of tents could be a “symbolic speech that’s protected by the First Amendment.”

    “I’m not saying they have a legal right in court to keep those tents there,” Silverstein went on to say. “We’d ask the question: Is there a way the government can accommodate the expression without having to shut it down, without having to clear people out of the park?”

    —–

    UPDATE: In a tense press conference a few minutes ago, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Attorney General John Suthers say (again) that protesters can’t camp where they are, specifying an 11PM-5AM period when they are not permitted to occupy the park. No word on any specific enforcement planned, but Occupy Denver protesters are interpreting Hickenlooper’s remarks as an imminent threat–and calling for backup.

    Developing…

    FOX 31’s Eli Stokols:

    With more than 100 people now camped out in Civic Center Park between Lincoln and Broadway, about 60 yards from Hickenlooper’s office, Sen. Greg Brophy issued a statement Thursday morning calling on the governor to take action.

    “All of Colorado is watching and the Governor has already set a dangerous precedent by allowing this to happen,” said Brophy, R-Wray…

    Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock aren’t certain what to do about the growing tent city of protesters even after meetings on Wednesday, after which they released a joint statement.

    “The Occupy Denver protesters are on State property. The State and City are working together to find a solution that balances Occupy Denver’s First Amendment rights with growing concerns around public safety and public health in violation of city ordinance and state law.”

    …Arresting all the protesters on misdemeanors and expecting them to be jailed is unrealistic, leaving Hickenlooper to joke Tuesday that the best solution may just be waiting for the weather to get colder.

    For one thing, supporters of the Occupy Denver encampment–far more than ever appear on the site of the protest at any given time–are all linked by social networking technology. Part of the “unrealistic” nature of forcibly dismantling their encampment is the likelihood that thousands of people would instantly descend on it the moment police began preparations to do so. And yes, if the mass arrest of 100 people is something authorities feel uprepared to carry out, the arrest of several thousand is pretty much out of the question.

    We are kind of wondering, though, what Sen. Greg Brophy, notable gun-toting mountain biking GOP tough guy, thinks the mass arrest and forcible dismantling of Occupy Denver would look like. And whether he’d really like to take responsibility for such a thing.

    Who Wants to Be a Colorado Supreme Court Justice?

    Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced today that Colorado Supreme Court Justice Alex Martinez has accepted the position of Manager of Safety for the City and County of Denver. That’s good news for the Supreme Court Nominating Commission, which finally has something to do.

    Martinez has served on the Colorado Supreme Court since being appointed by then-Gov. Roy Romer in 1996; he is the second-longest serving member of the bench, behind only Justice Gregory Hobbs in seniority. Martinez has not officially resigned from the Supreme Court, but once he does, The Supreme Court Nomination Commission will have 30 days to come up with three nominees for the bench to submit to Gov. John Hickenlooper…who then has 15 days to pick a new Justice.

    Full press releases from Hancock and Hickenlooper after the jump.

    From Denver Mayor Michael Hancock:

    Mayor Hancock Announces Appointment of Manager of Safety

    DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock announced today that Colorado Supreme Court Justice Alex J. Martinez is stepping away from the state’s highest court to serve as the Manager of Safety for the City and County of Denver.

    “The Manager of Safety is one of the most important positions in my Cabinet, particularly at a time when we must restore public trust and confidence in Denver’s safety agencies,” Mayor Hancock said. “Justice Martinez brings the highest level of integrity, a deep commitment to fairness and justice, and a well-earned level of respect from the legal and public-safety communities. I am grateful he has agreed to serve the citizens of Denver in this capacity.”

    The Manager of Safety provides civilian oversight of the Police, Fire and Sheriff’s departments. Justice Martinez’s appointment will be effective Nov. 1.  Interim Safety Manager Ashley Kilroy will continue to serve in this capacity until Justice Martinez assumes his new role. At that time, Kilroy will become Deputy Manager of Safety.

    During this time of transition, Martinez will assist in the search for a new police chief for the City.

    “I am thankful to Mayor Hancock for this opportunity and for his understanding to make the transition in a way that minimizes the impact on the Colorado Supreme Court,” Justice Martinez said. “For over 25 years, I have worked to ensure the rightful application of the law and a high-level of safety for the people of Colorado, and I look forward to continuing my work within this new and challenging position.”

    Mayor Hancock said Justice Martinez will provide strong leadership within the community, building trust and strengthening communications and relationships between city government and Denver’s diverse communities.

    Among Justice Martinez’s highest priorities will be to ensure swift and fair discipline, and to maintain the consistent application of professional standards, integrity and codes of conduct.

    Justice Martinez was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1996 by then-Gov. Roy Romer and was retained by voters in 2000 and 2010.

    “Having served 14 years on the bench with Justice Martinez, I wholeheartedly support him in his new endeavor,” Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael L. Bender said. “Justice Martinez has made enormous contributions to the operation of Colorado’s courts and its jurisprudence. With that, and his long record of service to the state, he will be greatly missed, but I have no doubt he will excel in this position.”

    Justice Martinez has been recognized by the Colorado Freedom of Information Council for his efforts to maximize public access to records of the courts, supporting a balance between the public’s interest in access to information and an individual’s privacy interests.

    Justice Martinez began his career as a Deputy State Public Defender. In 1983, then-Gov. Richard Lamm appointed Martinez to the Pueblo County Court bench. Five years later he was appointed the District Court for the Tenth Judicial District by then-Gov. Roy Romer.

    Serving within the Colorado judicial system for 28 years, Justice Martinez is renowned for being fair and balanced. He has built a reputation of approaching all cases impartially and taking into consideration every aspect of every case.

    Justice Martinez has also been a community leader, receiving such accolades as the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the William Lee Knous Award, the highest award of the University of Colorado School of Law given for outstanding achievement and sustained service.

    “I am confident Justice Martinez will carry on his reputation of bringing an independent approach to his work,” Mayor Hancock said. “He will be a key asset as we strive to rebuild and restore the trust between our residents and our departments of safety.”

    From Gov. John Hickenlooper:

    DENVER ­- Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011 – Gov. John Hickenlooper today released this statement about Justice Alex Martinez deciding to leave the Colorado Supreme Court to become Manager of Safety for the City of Denver:

    “Justice Martinez has served Colorado with great integrity and distinction. We wish him equal amounts of success in his new role at the City of Denver.”

    The Supreme Court Nominating Commission will have 30 days to solicit applicants and screen candidates to replace Martinez once he formally resigns from the bench in the coming weeks. The Commission will then send the names of three nominees to the governor for consideration. The governor will then have 15 days to name a new justice from candidates selected by the nominating commission.

    ###

    About the Supreme Court Nominating Commission

    The Supreme Court Nominating Commission recommends candidates to serve as judges for the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The chief justice of the Supreme Court chairs the commission and is a non-voting member. This commission includes one citizen admitted to practice law in Colorado and one citizen not admitted to practice law residing in each of the state’s seven congressional districts, and one additional citizen not admitted to practice law in Colorado.

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    Today In Really Terrible Ideas

    WEDNESDAY UPDATE: While this post was being written last night, the Denver paper announced that Michael Hancock’s office has backed off and will allow recording devices in these press briefings. A change of heart reportedly coming after furious pushback from reporters, it’s still totally inexplicable why Hancock’s people would attempt to do this at all.

    In an editorial today, the Denver paper calls Hancock’s chage of heart “a wise step in the wake of a misstep.” But they do not excuse the misstep.

    —–

    Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has had a bit of a difficult time with the local media — a rocky relationship that got off on the wrong foot amid stories linking him to a prostitution ring right at the end of the June runoff election. The negative stories surrounding those allegations had a lot to do with several bizarre decisions in Hancock’s camp that served only to encourage the media coverage, but while that story eventually died out, Team Hancock doesn’t seem to have learned any lessons in media relations. From The Associated Press:

    Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration says it will bar recording devices from background briefings with the press to keep the lines of communications open.

    The pen and paper meetings with the press will start Wednesday. A press release sent to members of the press on Tuesday said no recording devices including cameras or video cameras will be allowed.

    We really don’t understand what Hancock’s office hopes to accomplish with this policy other than to anger the media even further. Reporters and editors are unlikely to agree to this stipulation, nor should they — we’ve never heard of a local elected official doing this. Press secretary Amber Miller says the no-recording policy is necessary to keep Denver residents informed…which makes about as much sense as the Denver Broncos telling reporters that they can attend the team’s games so long as they don’t report on the score. This is a ridiculous idea, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Hancock reversing this policy very soon.

    Inside Hancock’s Blowout Win

    Denver Mayor-elect Michael Hancock significantly outperformed a poll we released earlier in the runoff election, and it’s a consensus among most who we’ve talked to that his margin of victory was larger than just about anyone had honestly predicted. While the final results are basically in line with an internal poll released by the Hancock campaign at the same time as our own, maybe presciently, we think there is more to the story.

    Former state Sen. Chris Romer certainly did lose this low-turnout election, as opposed to the Hancock campaign having definitively won it. We do believe that there was much more momentum for Romer early in the runoff election than at the end, and even though it was close to the final result, we think the snapshot taken by our poll at that time was a more accurate view of the race then than Hancock’s internal poll. So what happened? A couple of things, actually:

    First of all, Romer had a significant likability disadvantage that he never really tried to resolve. Chris Romer is a testament to the self-destructiveness of being a personally stiff and unlikable person, even though every other factor in a campaign may work in your favor. Romer’s stuffy, canned “class president” demeanor in debates and on the campaign trail gained him nothing with apolitical voters who didn’t care about his last name, and once voters understood that they didn’t like him very much or relate to him, that family legacy became a major disadvantage. Romer seemed only peripherally aware of this, and to the extent that he did understand, he didn’t seem to care. Romer certainly had his supporters, but those folks backed him more because he seemed likely to win than because they genuinely believed in him as a candidate; when Romer seemed to fade in the last two weeks of the campaign, those supporters faded right along with him. This personal lack of appeal is also a reason why many voters worked harder in their minds to rationalize Hancock’s various gaffes than they might have otherwise.

    On the other hand, the Hancock campaign skillfully defused the issues lobbed at him by Romer and his allies. It’s just as important to understand why they did this as how: the hits on Hancock over his vote to raise city council pay, and later on his repeated creationism gaffes, could have indeed done severe damage to Hancock in a liberal town like Denver. But instead of answering any of these charges on their merits, Hancock’s campaign kept to a simple, boilerplate line about “not engaging in negative campaigning.” Hancock’s team diligently repeated the claim of Romer running a negative campaign, and it eventually stuck with a news media that wasn’t paying that close of attention to the race.

    This strategy allowed the Hancock campaign to blunt basically any charge leveled against him, while ensuring that Hancock never had to respond to the facts of what he was being accused of. The critical moment when this strategy prevailed, and quite possibly the end of any chance that Romer ever had, came when Romer decided to pull an ad running against Hancock over the pay raise vote. As soon as Romer conceded this, he gave the “negative campaign” canard–and it was a canard, as the Denver newspaper managed to admit one fleeting time–all the legitimacy it needed to become a part of every report on this race. Romer did not run a negative campaign by any serious measure: the attacks he made on Hancock were backed up by Hancock’s own words and votes. But by not combating the “negative campaign” charges, Romer let them stick.

    Rather than pulling his own campaign ad, which was mild at most, Romer should have said, “There’s nothing wrong with pointing out Hancock’s own statements, and there’s nothing wrong with this ad.” Pulling the ad brought nothing positive for Romer, and it began a retreat in which his campaign became hesitant to attack Hancock when it most needed to be aggressive.

    There are some other pieces to the story we’ll circle back with in future posts, but these two facets–Romer’s unrecoverable lack of personal appeal, and Hancock’s ability to turn the daily news cycle into a consistent debate on his terms–were the key factors in Hancock’s big win.

    Hancock Announces Transition Plan

    Denver Mayor-elect Michael Hancock today announced plans for his transition process through the website DenverForward.com:

    Mayor-elect Michael Hancock today announced his DenverForward transition, a community-wide invitation to unify Denver, shape the new administration, recruit great leaders and launch his plan for the first 100 days of the new administration.

    With just a 40-day transition leading up to the July 18 inauguration, DenverForward will involve families, businesses and neighborhoods from across the city as the mayor-elect prepares to hit the ground running tackling Denver’s major challenges and creating new opportunities.

    “My administration will be one that represents all of Denver,” Mayor-elect Hancock said. “So we want to include the entire community in the transition process to ensure our administration and the people of Denver move forward together.”

    Business leader and former Denver Office of Economic Development Director John Huggins will lead DenverForward as Chair and Chief Executive Officer. Huggins was chair of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s transition committee in 2003 and Gov. Hickenlooper’s transition committee last year.

    Judging from the above picture tweeted by Fox 31’s Eli Stokols, priority #1 might be locating a podium. And maybe a lawnmower.

    Who Will Win the Denver Mayoral Race?

    Recent polling suggests that Michael Hancock is the frontrunner in the race for Denver Mayor, but with voter turnout so low, Chris Romer could benefit from voters just going with the more recognizable last name.

    What say you, Polsters? As always, we want to know who you think will win — not who you support or might want to win. Poll after the jump.

    Who Will Be Elected Mayor of Denver?

    View Results

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    Hancock Denies Link to Prostitution Ring Five Days Before Election Day

    From Westword, via Complete Colorado:

    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.

    Welcome Hancock Creationism Hit Piece Recipients!

    The video you’re looking for is here. FOX 31’s Eli Stokols reports on that postcard you got:

    Arriving in voters’ mailboxes this week, along with their ballots for the June 7 runoff, is the attack Michael Hancock’s campaign had been bracing for — a mailer highlighting the mayoral candidate’s missteps on questions of science and evolution.

    The mailer isn’t coming from Chris Romer’s campaign, but a political action committee.

    On one side of the glossy flier, from a group called “Citizens for Accountability”, it shows a dinosaur skeleton alongside the words: “Don’t let science become extinct in Denver Public Schools.”

    …Copies of the mailer were also available at a debate Monday night, although it wasn’t clear who brought them.

    At that debate, Hancock acknowledged making mistakes on multiple questions related to evolution but said it’s wrong for Romer to continue “playing politics” with them in light of his answers clarifying his beliefs. [Pols emphasis]

    Shorter Michael Hancock: “any ad quoting what I said about evolution is a falsehood.”

    We suppose it is the correct political play for Hancock to continue to assert that he “clarified” his original comments on the issue, but it’s also the correct political play to continue to attack Hancock for his original comments. Let’s not forget: Hancock responded very clearly, and unequivocally, to a question that was not at all vague or difficult to interpret. Once again:

    QUESTION: “Do you believe Creationism and Intelligent Design should be taught in schools?”

    Hancock’s answer: “Yes.”

    Hancock can try over and over and over to “clarify” that statement, but he said it. He said it clearly. And he said it on video. It is completely disingenuous to insist that attacking Hancock for this statement is wrong “because he has since clarified his position.” If you accept that premise, you accept the real meaning behind those words, “Michael Hancock realized that he made a terrible mistake in answering that question in the manner in which he did, and now he would like to backtrack a bit in hopes that you will forget about what he originally said.”

    Folks, if our likening of the response of Hancock and his multiple pro-creationism gaffes with Republican running punchline Newt Gingrich’s “Ryan Plan” foibles upsets you, maybe rankles your progressive tail feathers and fires you up to start a fresh flamewar over it–which you’re free to do in our forum, make no mistake–we certainly do understand. All we ask before you launch into the latest tirade about our evident bias, cronyism, and “fascist handmaidenship,” is that you first honestly answer one very simple and straightforward question:

    Would you be trying so hard to rationalize this if a Republican had said it?

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    Nice Try, But…No

    Michael Hancock’s campaign for Denver Mayor sent out a press release this morning touting poll results that are as absurd as we have seen in a long time. Here’s the press release from Hancock Campaign Manager Evan Dreyer:

    Good morning and good news: I just talked with our pollster and his survey (conducted earlier this week) shows Michael with a 15-point lead!

    The poll was conducted May 9-11 among 508 likely runoff voters in Denver. It shows 52% will vote for Michael and 37% will vote for Romer, with 11% undecided.

    The idea that Hancock has a 15-point lead on Chris Romer is silly; it was only 10 days ago that Hancock finished in second place in the Mayoral runoff with 27 percent of the vote in total. But now he’s leading Romer in a blowout? Uh, no.

    According to the poll results by RBI Strategies that we just released, Hancock has a 41-37 lead over Romer — a lead that is within the margin of error.

    Prior to the May 4 pre-runoff election, Romer was endorsed by the Denver newspaper and was not on the receiving end of any negative ads. Hancock, meanwhile, was blistered in the media for voting to approve pay raises for City Council and was also shown in negative ads run by former Mayoral candidate Carol Boigon. Hancock has run some solid TV ads and has received some strong endorsements, so we don’t doubt that he could have a slight lead on Romer — as the RBI poll shows. But it’s completely implausible that Hancock could be leading the Mayoral race by 15 points, and it’s ridiculous for his campaign to even make that suggestion.  

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    Romer v. Hancock for Denver Mayor

    The field is set for the Denver Mayoral runoff, with the two longtime favorites in the race ready for the sprint to the June 7th winner-take-all election. It’s former state Sen. Chris Romer squaring off against former Denver City Council President Michael Hancock for all of Denver’s marbles.

    The unofficial results show Romer taking the top spot with 28.49% of the vote, compared to 27.07% for Hancock (for a total difference of about 1,600 votes). But the most important person in this race may very well be the man who came in third, James Mejia, who grabbed 25.74% of the vote but ended up about 1,500 votes shy of second place. Mejia may hold the key to the Mayor’s office; if he endorses Hancock or Romer — and works hard to convince his supporters to do the same — that support could make the difference in June.

    Romer may be able to still win the runoff without Mejia’s support, thanks to his fundraising ability and his tremendous advantage in name ID. But Mejia’s support is absolutely critical for Hancock, who will no doubt get absolutely hammered for his asinine City Council vote in March to approve a pay raise for Denver elected officials. Romer hadn’t used the issue in his early commercials, because as the frontrunner he didn’t need to attack any of the other candidates in order to make the runoff. But there’s no way that Romer won’t be unloading on Hancock over the pay raise vote, and Hancock doesn’t have a good answer in response. Unless Hancock can form something of an “anti-Romer” coalition, the key to which is Mejia’s support, we don’t see how he’ll be able to get out from underneath that one boneheaded vote.

    We’re finally down to the final two in the race for what many politicos (including us here at Colorado Pols) consider to be the marquee elected position in Colorado. What say you, Polsters? Click below to vote…

    Who Will Be Elected Mayor of Denver

    View Results

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    Colorado Pols/RBI Poll: Romer 22%, Mejia 10%, Hancock 9%

    UPDATE: Coverage of today’s poll from FOX 31’s Eli Stokols.

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    This is a poll of the Denver mayoral race, released by Colorado Pols and conducted by Denver-based RBI Strategies & Research. The results show Chris Romer with a solid lead, but perhaps more importantly, he is the only candidate with any real name recognition; Romer’s total favorable rating is 40%, while the next closest candidate is James Mejia at 26%. Favorability ratings for Michael Hancock (22%), Doug Linkhart (21%) and Carol Boigon (19%) are incredibly low this close to Election Day.

    Here’s a more detailed summary from RBI research director Kevin Ingham:

    RBI mayoral survey shows low voter engagement with just 3 weeks before voting begins

    A survey of likely 2011 municipal voters in Denver shows that while Chris Romer is currently leading, a plurality of voters remain undecided and have yet to significantly engage on the race.  When asked who they would vote for in the race for Mayor of Denver, 22% of respondents said they would vote for Chris Romer and 10% said James Mejia with Michael Hancock (9%), Doug Linkhart (7%), Carol Boigon (5%) and Theresa Spahn (2%) all receiving support in the single digits.  Another 5% said they would vote for a different candidate and a 40% plurality say they remain undecided on which candidate they will support.

    This survey is a useful snapshot of the status of the race at a time before voters have began to engage.  Though Chris Romer is clearly leading, much of this can be attributed to his name ID advantage and the race remains wide open.  Early horserace surveys, such as this one, tend to show that support is highly correlated to name ID.  Therefore, with such a large portion of the likely electorate unfamiliar with the candidates, the high number of undecided voters is not surprising.  In fact, fully 32% were unable to provide hard name ID for any of the six candidates presented during the survey interview.

    As the major mayoral candidate begin to communicate with voters, the race will be sure to become more engaged and is likely to become highly fluid over the next few weeks.

    RBI Strategies & Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 Denver voters who indicated it was likely that they would vote in the May 2011 Municipal Election. Interviews were conducted March 21 – March 22, 2010 by Standage Market Research of Denver, Colorado, a market research firm specializing in telephone survey interviewing. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of Colorado voters, purchased from Voter Contact Services, who registered after the 2010 General Election or voted in the 2010 General Election and either 1) voted in at least one off-year election dating back to 2003 or 2) registered after 2009 off-year election.

    The margin of error for a survey of 400 interviews is ±4.9% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error is higher for subsamples within the full sample.

    Other sources of error not accounted for by the stated statistical margin of error include, but are not limited to, question wording, question order, and refusal to be interviewed.

    Toplines | Crosstabs

    NOTE: RBI Strategies is not involved with any Denver mayoral campaigns.

    Mr. Ingham will join our readers at 1PM today for a Q&A session on the results of this poll. In order to keep things as orderly as possible in what is likely to be a popular discussion, we’d appreciate it if our readers held their questions for Mr. Ingham until 1PM when he arrives to answer them. In the meantime, you’re welcome to comment on the poll results themselves.

    Please be respectful in your comments and questions for Mr. Ingham. We appreciate the time that he is making for this Q&A session, and whether you agree or disagree with anything he says, there is NO reason you need to voice your opinion in a rude or disrespectful manner. We will not tolerate bad behavior from anyone during this Q&A session, so please be good Polsters.

    Hancock, Linkhart Try Bailing Water From Sinking Mayoral Ships

    A few days ago we took note of baffling votes by Michael Hancock and Doug Linkhart, two Denver Mayoral hopefuls (and current Denver City Council members) who all but committed campaign suicide when they voted to approve pay increases for Council members.

    Hancock and Linkhart are both trying hard to defend those votes, as Fox 31 reports:

    A recent post on the well-read ColoradoPols blog showed Hancock and Linkhart’s faces photo-shopped onto a sinking Titanic and called their vote “tone deaf”, especially amidst the election…

    …In a statement sent out Wednesday afternoon, Linkhart said he would forgo the pay increase if elected mayor, but noted that the 6.6 percent salary increase won’t take effect until 2014.

    “This is a non-issue for today’s budget,” said Linkhart. “We should be delaying any increase in deference to the economy, but not engaging in political posturing regarding future increases that are spelled out in city ordinance.”

    Like Linkhart, Hancock also promised to decline the cost of living adjustment if he’s elected mayor, but defended his vote to increase council members’ salaries.

    “I believe very strongly that we can’t let public service or politics become a playground for only the rich,” Hancock said. “Serving on the Denver City Council is a full-time job, and we need to ensure that working-class, diverse groups of people have the opportunity to lead Denver in the future.”

    As we’ve said time and time again here on Colorado Pols, when you make a mistake on a campaign — STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. There is nothing that Linkhart and Hancock can say that will make their asinine votes on Monday seem any less damaging, but they can certainly help make things worse…which they both managed to do by drawing more attention to their mistakes.

    As for their statements, Linkhart’s rationale on Monday’s vote — that it doesn’t affect the current budget — does nothing to make the vote look better. Nobody cares when the pay raise takes effect. Denver is facing a $100 million deficit now. Politics, like much in life, is all about perception.

    But thankfully for Linkhart, Hancock’s statement is even worse. For some reason, Hancock insists on sticking with his rationale that a pay raise is necessary because “we can’t let public service or politics become a playground for only the rich.” We would agree with Hancock if he were talking about, say, the state legislature. But City Council members already earn more than $78,000 per year, plus $30,000 in benefits. Given that the average personal income in the Denver area is about $45,000, Denver City Council members are already doing pretty well.

    Hancock’s statement summed up this entire fiasco for both he and Linkhart when he said, “This is about being a leader and standing up to do what is right, not what is politically expedient.” We’ve no doubt that Denver voters will agree that Monday’s vote was about “being a leader.” That’s exactly why neither Hancock nor Linkhart are likely to be elected.

    Hancock, Linkhart Wave Goodbye to Mayoral Hopes

    (Originally posted at Denver Pols)

    We’re having a hard time trying to think of a more baffling decision by a politician running for higher office in recent years. Last night, Denver City Council members Michael Hancock and Doug Linkhart voted for a pay increase for City Council members while they are in the midst of running campaigns for Denver Mayor.

    Yes, you read that correctly. Two candidates who are running for Mayor in a city faced with a $100 million budget deficit voted to increase salaries for City Council members by 6.6 percent. Currently, City Council members earn $78,173 per year, with an additional $30,000 in benefits. The attack ads write themselves, if they are even necessary at this point.

    Linkhart tried to explain his vote by saying that he has always favored a pay raise and that he wasn’t going to change his mind just because this is an election year. His position would be mildly admirable if it wasn’t so mind-bogglingly stupid politically. Linkhart was already a longshot to be elected Mayor, but there’s no way he gets elected now.

    But the biggest whiff from last night’s vote came from Hancock, who voted in favor of the pay increase despite his statements during a Feb. 28 city council meeting that the increase should not be approved.

    Apparently Hancock no longer wants to be Mayor. It’s bad enough to vote for a pay increase when you’re running for Mayor and the city is $100 million in debt. It’s Titanic-esque to cast that vote after you’ve already been on record opposing the idea.

    Among candidates running for Mayor, only Carol Boigon had the good sense to oppose the pay increase.  

    Denver Pols for Denver City Races

    We’re redoubling our efforts (to use one of our favorite silly cliches) to bring regularly-updated information on the Denver City races, from Denver Mayor to Denver City Council, and even Clerk and Recorder.

    So if you’ve got a keen interest in Denver Politics, make sure to bookmark our younger brother, Denver Pols, for the latest and greatest news and discussion on the Denver races this spring. We’ll cross-post some items here from time-to-time, but generally we’re going to leave the Denver political news to Denver Pols.

    And yes, we’ll be updating and expanding The Denver Line very soon.