18 November 2010

2011-2012 Elections Preview

City and County of Denver Election

The big political event of 2011 will be the race to replace Governor-Elect John Hickenlooper as Mayor of Denver at the Denver Municipal Electon May 3, 2011. Deupty Mayor Bill Vidal will be acting Mayor from the time that Governor-Elect Hickenlooper ceases to serve as Mayor until a successor is appointed, and is not running for the post. Some of the candidates or very likely candidates include:

* Denver city council member Michael Hancock. Announced candidate.
* State Senator Chris Romer. Announced candidate.
* Doug Linkhart - City Councilman At Large. Announced candidate.
* Carol Boigan - City Councilwoman At Large. Not Announced yet, but has said she plans to run.
* James Mejia - Former Dir. Parks & Rec. Filed paperwork
* Danny Lopez - 2007 candidate. Filed paperwork
* Dwight Henson - Filed paperwork.
* Michael Forrester - Filed paperwork.
* Gerald Styron - 2007 candidate for CC1. File paperwork
* Ken Simpson - Filed paperwork

Other candidates are expected to announce before the ballot is printed, with incumbents in other elected city offices, current and former partisan office holders, senior city appointed officials, and leaading Republicans in the county among those most discussed.

Both City Council at large and all eleven city council districts are at issue. My understanding is that the districts will not be redistricted in time for the 2011 election, but I may be mistaken.

City Council at-Large - Both positions may be open if, as anticipated, both incumbents run for Mayor.
Council District 1 Paula Sandoval - Incumbent
Council District 2 Jeanne Faatz - Incumbent.
Council District 3 Paul Lopez - Incumbent
Council District 4 Peggy Lehmann - Incumbent
Council District 5 - Incumbent Marcia Johnson (D) has announced she will not seek re-election. Mary Beth Sussman is an announced candidate and other contestants are expected for this seat.
Council District 6 Charlie Brown - Incumbent. He is one of the most conservative members of the city council and likely to face a challenger.
Council District 7 Chris Nevitt - Incumbent.
Council District 8 Carla Madison - Incumbent
Council District 9 Judy Montero - Incumbent
Council District 10 Jeanne Robb - Incumbent. Potential candidate for mayor
Council District 11 - Incumbent Michael Hancock (D) is running for mayor. Chris Martinez - RTD Board Chair is considered a likely candidate to replace him and others will probably also enter this race.

Retirements and runs for the Mayor's office may open up other seats.

Elections for the Auditor and Clerk and Recorder of the City and County will be before voters in May as well. All of the posts are non-partisan. Stephanie O'Malley is the incumbent Clerk and Recorder, as well as being the first person to hold that newly created office. Dennis Gallagher is the incumbent City Auditor.

Mayor, Auditor, Clerk and Recorder and single member city council districts, all candidates run in the general election in May, and if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast for that office, there is a runoff of the top two candidates roughly a month later. My understanding is that the the top two vote getters in the City Council At Large race (in which voters cast votes for up to two candidates each) are elected without a runoff election.

2011 Denver School Board Election

In November 2011, there will be a non-partisan election for three of the seats on the seven Denver School Board, which consists of two at large board members and five school board members elected from five individual school board districts. The person receiving the largest number of voters wins. I do not known if the five school board districts in Denver will be redistricted prior to the November 2011 election.

The at large seat before voters is the seat currently held by two term board member Theresa Peña. District 1, currently served by two time board member Bruce Hoyt is up for re-election. One term board member Arturo Jimenez in District 5 will also face voters in 2011.

2012 Colorado Federal Elections

In the 2012 general election, the main event with be the Presidential race, with President Obama as the presumptive Democratic candidate, and with the Republican caucus and primary process to choose a nominee starting in earnest in January of 2012, and the field of candidates starting to become clear over the course of 2011. Colorado will probably be a key battleground state in the general election, and may play a meaningful rule in the Republican primary as well.

Colorado will not have a U.S. Senate race in 2012. All seven of its U.S. House of Representatives seats will be before the voters in seats redrawn to reflect the 2010 census by the members of the Colorado General Assembly elected earlier this month.

Incumbents, of course, are likely to be unopposed or face only token primary oppositioon. Major party opponents in safe districts, such as current CO-1, CO-2, CO-5 and CO-6 are generally sacrificial lambs who mount hopeless campaigns with little money. Primary contests by the Democrats in CO-3 and CO-4, and by Republicans in CO-7 are likely to be heated.

2012 Colorado State and Local Elections

Colorado will not have a race for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney-General, State Treasurer, or Secretary of State in 2012. Voters in 2012 will be elect some members of sevem members of the Colorado's State Board of Education (at least the 4th District Seat), some of the members of the CU-Regents (including one CU-Regent at large), in each case from newly drawn Congressional Districts.

Voters will also choose district attorneys and will vote in the usual batch of judicial retention elections. Denver's District Attorney, Mitch Morrissey, a Democrat, will face voters in 2012 if he chooses to run for re-election. If he chooses to run for re-election, he will probably be unopposed in the primary and face only token opposition from a Republican and minor party opponents in the general election, because the Democratic party is dominant in Denver. If he chooses not to run for re-election, the August 2012 Democratic party primary will effectively determine who holds that office.

Some (but not all) of the county commissioners in every county except Denver and Broomfield, but no other county officers will face voters in 2012.

Some seats on the non-partisan Regional Transportation District Board of Directors will be up for election in 2012.

All 65 of Colorado's state house of representatives districts will be up for re-election in newly redrawn house districts. There will be a number of open seats as a result of term limits and a few members will probably retire rather than run for re-election in a redrawn district, particular in the inevitable handful of cases where two sitting legislators end up in the same redrawn district. Half of Colorado's state senators will face voters in newly redrawn state senate districts.

Ballot Issues

State and local ballot issues in 2011 are largely restricted to TABOR votes and certain referred measures (Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 1-41-101 et seq.) presented to voters at the November 2011 election.

It is too early in the process to know what state ballot issues will be before voters in 2012 but they are likely to be numerous and run the gamut of issues, probably including some abortion related issues, some issue concerning the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, some anti-tax issues, and some legislatively referred housekeeping measures amending the state constitution.

One of the big question marks on the ballot issue front is whether a serious proposal to fix the state's overconstrained state budget will be proposed, either by the state legislature or as an initiative. Mayor Hickenlooper has successful won approval of similar measures in Denver, but everyone is aware that voters statewide may be a harder sell, so any such measure will have to be moderate and carefully crafted if it is to succeed. Referendums C and D, the last such effort in Colorado, won passage of only one of the two measures, despite bipartisan support, and has been an albatross for Republican supporters in conservative circles ever since then.

This kind of measure could happen in either 2011 or 2012. A 2011 bid would have a small electorate (which is probably more conservative even than a mid-term election electorate), but would provide solutions sooner and not face distractions from other races. A 2012 would have a larger and more liberal electorate (although probably not as large or exuberant as in 2008) and will probably feature a better economic climate than the one voters will be facing in November 2011, but it would have to compete for attention on a longer ballot and would delay fiscal relief for the state.

It may make sense to put forward state fiscal reform measures in two parts, with the less controversial part proposed in 2011, and the piece with a greater revenue effect that may face more opposition in 2012.

RTD is likely to put forward some proposal to deal with the shortfall of funds for its FasTracks program in either 2011 or 2012.

Wild Cards

A variety of wild cards could change the situation, although are all unlikely. These include a decision of President Obama not to run for re-election, scandals that force a high profile recall vote of some official, or a financial meltdown in the state budget that forces a government shutdown or cuts to state services so dramatic that emergency action is necessary.


The Denver municipal election and school board elections in 2011 are likely to be hard fought.

The last seriously contested Mayoral race in Denver divided the city on ethnic lines, with predominantly Latino parts of the city favoring for a Latino candidate, predominantly African-American parts of the city favoring an African American candidate, and the rest of the city favoring Mayor Hickenlooper.

The school board is currently bitterly divided between a faction that is skeptical of charter schools and supported by the teacher's union, and one that is more enthusiastiic about charter schools and reform and has been supported by local business interests. This conflict is likely to recur in 2011.

Primary season in 2012 will be boring for Democrats in Denver, as most races will have incumbents who will run unopposed, although the person selected by a vacancy committee to fill the vacancy in Chris Romer's State Senate seat is more likely than other incumbents to face a primary challenge, and redistricting may also lead to some primary contests.

But, with no likely top of the ticket partisan races where Democrats are likely to have a primary on tap for 2012, Denver Democrats are likely to have a quiet primary season in 2012. Since all Denver state legislative and Congressional seats and the District Attorney's office are likely to be safe seats for Democrats in 2012 and almost all will have uncontested incumbents, the challenge for Democrats in Denver over the next two years will be to maximize Denver's performance for President Obama in 2012.

Denver Democratic political activists, as a result, are likely to be focused in 2012 on helping Democratic candidates in battleground state legislative races, and in statewide get out the vote efforts, rather than focusing on political races at home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your article talks about the mayoral election of 2003 divided the city. Why don't you mention that in the last election for Mayor of Denver, that people were afraid to run against Mayor Hickenlopper. There was one sole candidate who stepped forward to give the voters of Denver an alternative choice. Danny F. Lopez won close to 10,000 votes 12.75% of the vote with out spending a dime of any ones money. Not one lawn sign, not one commercial. in that election almost 20,000 didn't vote for either mayoral candidate, the newspapers and t.v media didn't really cover the campaigns or elections like in the past, it was a mail in election, and still Danny F. Lopez managed to get close to 13% of the vote. Where was Hancock, Romer, Linkhart, Boiegn and Mejia in the last Mayoral Election when the voters needed an alternative choice? In the last Mayoral Election 0f 2007 the media refused to cover the campaigns like in the past, not very many debates, not much news stories, almost as if the last election never happened that's why your story talks about the election of 2003. That election was a historic election because a common man was running for office with out spending a million dollars, Danny F Lopez a true anti establishment candidate, was the sole challenger to a very popular Mayor Hickenlopper. What ever happened to the money Hickenlopoper had in his reelection fund almost 900.000 dollars he didn't spend it all in that election he didn't even make one commercial. Must be the first time a candidate for Mayor of Denver didn't by a single commercial thank you Danny F Lopez for that. Tell your readers their was a election in 2007 and Danny F Lopez was the Real Deal Alternative Choice Candidate, a Common Man Candidate of The People by the People and for The People.