The 5280 Fifty

We rank the Mile High City's most influential powerbrokers in our primer on who's running Denver. Plus: A look at whose stars are rising—and whose stock is plummeting.

January 2010

It's been five years since we last ranked Denver's most powerful people, and, oh, how the town has changed. Back then, the governor and both U.S. senators were Republicans; an upstart Andrew Romanoff was a sure thing of a rising political star; Michael Bennet was merely the mayor's chief of staff; Denver was a two-newspaper town; Mike Shanahan coached the Broncos, and Jake Plummer, now a handball player(!), was the QB; the idea of a Denver DNC was little more than a pipe dream; and people had jobs. Five years—what's new? How's that for starters?

As we reported on power in Denver today—which included speaking to dozens of sources, high and low, elected and otherwise—inevitably we were asked variations of this reasonable question: How do you define power? After all, we're comparing politicians to scientists, doctors to attorneys, business leaders to museum curators. Indeed, this endeavor is an imperfect science. As we considered the reporting, the various agendas encountered, and the like, for our answer to the power question we relied on the sentiment expressed by President Woodrow Wilson, who knew a thing or two about influence: "Power consists in one's capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation."






Rising Stars

Plummeting Stocks