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Mike Johnston, Kelly Brough maintain big lead (Local Tips & Reviews)

Former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough remained the top two vote-getters in Denver’s mayoral contest on Wednesday afternoon after officials counted a surge of ballots that were submitted on Election Day.

Johnston had about 24.5% of the vote while Brough had 21% as of 5 p.m. In third place was Lisa Calderón at 17%, about 4 percentage points — or 5,000 votes —behind Brough.

From left: Denver mayoral candidate Kelly Brough is congratulated by well-wishers during an election eve watch party late Tuesday in north Denver. Denver mayoral candidate Mike Johnston autographs yard signs for the children of his supporters before entering an election eve watch party in a hotel in lower downtown Denver. (David Zalubowski, AP Photo)

A candidate needed to win 50% of the vote to win outright. Instead, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on June 6. The next Denver mayor will replace Michael Hancock, who took office in 2011 and won reelection twice. Denver’s mayor is paid more than $188,000, with the City Council poised to potentially hike the salary and benefits package in a future meeting. 

Calderón’s campaign was confident that votes cast on Election Day would give her a boost and advance her to the runoff.

“We knew from the beginning that our people, progressives, young folks, and people of color, would vote in the final few days of the Election. Despite the media prematurely counting us out, our race is still very much at play,” Calderón said in a written statement.

Denver elections officials released results at 5 p.m. that included about 151,000 of the 175,034 votes cast in Tuesday’s election. The next batch of results will be posted Thursday afternoon.

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There remain about 23,000 votes left to count.

A surge of late results — 80,000 people voted on Election Day and 55,000 ballots arrived in the final two hours Tuesday — increased turnout to 38% of active voters. That’s below the 44% turnout in the 2019 municipal election, but higher than turnout was in the 2015 election.

Voters notified about signature issues or other discrepancies must cure their ballots by April 12. Results of the election will be finalized April 20.

State Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez continued to lead the at-large City Council contest, with 44,574 votes. Sarah Parady was in second place with 36,642 votes, followed by former state Sen. Penfield Tate with 35,237 votes, followed by and Travis Leiker with 34,317. The top two vote-getters automatically get seats on the 13-member council.

Gonzales-Gutierrez, Tate, Parady and Leiker are within 3 percentage points of each other. There is no runoff in the at-large City Council races. 

A look at the other City Council races heading to a runoff as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, assuming no candidate wins 50% of the vote:

  • Incumbent Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca will face Darrell Watson in the District 9 race. Outside groups spent more than $78,000 opposing CdeBaca, who was endorsed by the Denver Democratic Socialists of America and the Colorado Working Families Party. Watson and CdeBaca’s both had about 44% of the vote.
  • Incumbent Chris Hinds will face a runoff in his District 10 seat after receiving 36% of the vote. It’s unclear who his challenger will be as several candidates are competing for second place.
  • Flor Alvidrez is certain to make the runoff for the open District 7 seat with nearly 39% of the vote. It’s unclear who her challenger will be as the next three candidates are within a percentage point of each other.
  • Brad Revare will face Shontel Lewis for the open District 8 seat. Lewis also was endorsed by the Denver Democratic Socialists of America and the Colorado Working Families Party. Revare was supported by super PACS supporting more moderate candidates. They both had received about 34% of the vote.

Certain to rejoin or join the 13-member Denver City Council:

  • District 1 Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval with 82% of the vote
  • District 2 Councilman Kevin Flynn, who received nearly 73% of the vote facing two opponents
  • District 3 Councilwoman Jamie Torres, who was unopposed
  • Diana Romero Campbell, who won the open District 4 seat with close to 57% of the vote
  • District 5 Councilwoman with Amanda Sawyer with 65% of the vote
  • District 6 Councilman Paul Kashmann, who was unopposed
  • District 11 Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore, who was unopposed

The new mayor and city council will be sworn in on July 17.

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