Will Marijuana, Mudslinging, and Strip Club Contributions Help Get Out the Vote in Denver?

April 22 2011, 10:02 AM

With just three percent of ballots submitted as of Tuesday, it's safe to bet a good portion of Denver's 300,000 voters remain undecided in their choice of candidates for the May 3 election (The Spot). Not that making decisions has been particularly easy for everyone.

In the race for mayor, jobs, the budget, unruly police, and education have monopolized the conversation, allowing the candidates to recite "pat answers to all of the common questions" (The Spot, with some video here). That made this week's discussions on disability issues and marijuana somewhat less predictable, and a little mudslinging is bringing tension to the sometimes-sleepy race, exposing a couple of potentially decisive details.

The conflict is building between front-runners Chris Romer and James Mejia, who took the first shot last week by calling out Romer for missing nearly a dozen candidate forums (The Spot). The friction carried into this week with Romer accusing Mejia of flip-flopping on an education issue (Denver Post) and a handful of Romer's Latino backers—rather indiscriminately—challenging Mejia's use of the term "illegal immigrant" while expressing his support of in-state tuition for undocumented students (Westword).

Mejia then took another swing at Romer for accepting $30,000 in campaign donations from a strip club owner (Denver Post). But apparently Mejia hasn't challenged Michael Hancock, the race's other front-runner, for taking $3,000 from the same businessman, Troy Lowrie, who hung up on the Post when a reporter called for comment.

All three leading contenders continue to bank high-profile endorsements (Hancock, Mejia, Romer), which are also stacking up in the District 8 race (The Spot). Voters in that ward have the added burden of hustling to learn something about the exhaustive lineup of 38 write-in candidates seeking to fill the seat of the recently deceased Carla Madison (Denver Pols). Once decided, they'll have to remember his or her name, and how to spell it—exactly—on the ballot in order for it to be counted.

Regardless of where you live in the city, your ballot will only be tallied if elections officials have it by 7 p.m. on May 3; postmarked mail that's not in their possession won't cut it. If you're unsure of or new to the process, check the sites of the Denver Elections Division and New Era Colorado for more helpful information.