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Denver mayor race heats up with two weeks until ballots

5:42 PM, Mar 31, 2011   |    comments
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The first major poll released in the race last week from RBI Strategies and shows Chris Romer with 22 percent of voter support, James Mejia with 10 percent, and Michael Hancock with 9 percent.

Doug Linkhart is at 7 percent in the poll, Carol Boigon has 5 percent, and Theresa Spahn has 2 percent.

RBI Strategies only polled 400 potential voters on the top six fundraisers in the race to hold the title of Denver mayor.

Still, 40 percent of those polled are still undecided in the race and 9NEWS Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli says it may be more than half of the electorate still undecided because of the weak name recognition in the race.

"Chris Romer seems to be the front runner," Ciruli said. "Everybody else is bunched up in second place."

Ciruli says the candidates in the "second place pack" are trying to establish name recognition to be included in the June runoff election. A candidate for Denver mayor must receive at least 50 percent of the vote.

"A huge number of people are going to make their decision in the next two to four weeks," Ciruli said.

The biggest issue in the race so far, Ciruli says, is about pay raises for city workers.

Even though she voted for pay raises in 2007 when she was not a mayoral candidate, Denver Councilwoman Boigon is advertising in force, buying commercial time to capitalize on her no-vote for a 6.6 percent raise for city workers last week. The raise would take place in 2014.

Her opponents, Linkhart and Hancock voted for the raises, but say they would both return the money, if elected.

Boigon also started a petition drive this week against the raises and her campaign also defended her 2007 vote for pay raises on Thursday.

"January 2007 was a different time when Denver families weren't facing double-digit unemployment and the economy had not crashed," Boigon's spokeswoman Rachel Chapparo said in an emailed statement. "During these tough times, it's a question of priorities: Carol Boigon stands with Denver families and believes creating good-paying jobs and improving Denver schools should come before pay raises for politicians."

Political analysts say Boigon is just one of five major contenders trying to catch Romer.

Mejia has a 10-second television ad running and also hoping an endorsement from former Denver Mayor Federico Pena helps.

Hancock has a television ad out as well and is looking for a boost from former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb's endorsement.

Analysts also say Linkhart and Spahn are looking strong as well at multiple forums across the city.

"It's really turning out to be a race for the runoff," RBI Strategies Director of Research Kevin Ingham said. "Really, the goal now is to try to break out of that pack."

With not much time until voters start getting their ballots, they also say the race is still not won yet.

"The fact that Chris Romer is way ahead does not necessarily mean that he has it locked up in any way," Ingham said. "There is still 40 percent of the electorate that does not have a candidate, that does not have a horse in this race."

Ballots start going out to Denver voters April 15.

9NEWS has a mayoral debate scheduled at the University of Denver for April 20.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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