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It’s an election cycle in 2019, which guarantees at least two truths: There are too many opinions to count and Twitter seems to have an outsize impact on the conversation. As we’ve reported on Denver’s municipal elections, and in particular the runoff contest to elect Denver’s next mayor, we’ve kept tabs (many of which remain open) on social media to see what politicians, reporters, donors, and voters have been saying, sharing, and—in some cases—deleting.
Here, we bring you a snapshot of the social media buzz throughout the runoff mayoral race. Think we missed something important? Just let us know—we’ll update this post until the June 4 runoff election.
Not long after the general municipal election ended, leaving incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock and challenger Jamie Giellis to square off in a June 4 runoff, endorsements started flowing in for both candidates. Hancock earned the support of former Denver mayors John Hickenlooper, Bill Vidal, and Wellington Webb. Giellis had her own list, including former opponents Lisa Calderón and Penfield Tate III. Calderón’s endorsement, in particular, started quite a conversation on Twitter.
Please read in full. Throughout my candidacy, I urged voters to envision new possibilities for our city. That future may look different today than it did two weeks ago, but we still have the opportunity to make positive change in Denver through this runoff election. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/KfRhQ9cy0S
— Lisa Calderón for Denver Mayor (@Lisa4Denver) May 13, 2019
The endorsement from Calderón and Tate III also led to poignant questions—like the one below—about how their support might impact the runoff results on June 4.
Does the pact with of two former mayoral candidates give Giellis a great chance to pull off the win over Hancock?
— dan rutherford (@Denver_dan) May 13, 2019
The biggest endorsement from a national figure, though, came for Mayor Hancock when former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted support for his campaign.
Watching the mayor’s race in Denver and pulling for @MayorHancock—he’s a proven progressive leader who will work hard for Colorado.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 17, 2019
The endorsement was major news, but it didn’t sit well with some people—including outspoken Giellis supporter and donor Andra Zeppelin, who felt betrayed by Clinton’s decision.
How sad for little girls like my Louise to have to witness this betrayal by someone they’ve looked up to. Tell your mom to do her research @ChelseaClinton before she lets down our next generation of leaders. (Photo taken at the same event as Hancock’s photo above) pic.twitter.com/R7H4G2zq32
— Andra Zeppelin (@AndraZeppelin) May 18, 2019
Racial Insensitivity Accusations
Denver’s mayoral runoff really heated up on May 14 when Giellis, appearing on the Brother Jeff Fard’s Facebook Live Show, wasn’t able to recall what the NAACP stands for (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Her momentary lapse led to an onslaught of social media criticism, including from NAACP president Derrick Johnson, who shared this statement on Facebook: “I was surprised and disappointed to learn that a candidate for mayor of Denver would be unaware and out of step with the history and concerns of communities of color. Now is the time for unity, not division. #UniteDenver.”
Giellis tweeted this response on May 15:
— Jamie Giellis for Mayor (@jamiefordenver) May 15, 2019
But that wasn’t the end of it for Giellis. Also on May 15, a 2009 tweet from her personal account was uncovered by 9News in which she asked why “so many cities feel it necessary to have a Chinatown.” That account was deleted a short time after, but not before the damage was done. The Hancock campaign seized on those tweets and a few of her previous statements to produce this negative campaign commercial, released May 19.
Today we released a campaign ad that reminds voters that elections have consequences and words matter. pic.twitter.com/prNRzfDWDS
— Hancock for Denver (@HancockforDen) May 20, 2019
Giellis’ campaign responded the same day, accusing the incumbent mayor of deceiving the public and using scare tactics.
Michael Hancock went negative today. Here is my response: pic.twitter.com/VutmBHrMjD
— Jamie Giellis for Mayor (@jamiefordenver) May 19, 2019
The Sexual Harassment Clapback
Only a few days after Hancock’s campaign released the negative commercial, Giellis’ held a press conference on May 21 about the culture of sexual harassment she says has existed in the mayor’s office under the Hancock administration.
.@jamiefordenver claims a "culture of sexual harassment" in @MayorHancock administration citing 5 cases since 2013. Only 2 of them are sexual harassment cases. "Each one didn't necessarily say sexual harassment on it but all are part of a culture," said Giellis' spox. #copolitics
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) May 21, 2019
Later that night, after a 9News debate with the Mayor, Giellis’ campaign Twitter account doubled down on those accusations.
2) The mayor has remained silent on the sexual harassment suits in the city and he should explain why he is not honoring Leslie Branch-Wise’s statement that she was sexually harassed. https://t.co/uUxqwmQQS1
— Jamie Giellis for Mayor (@jamiefordenver) May 22, 2019
The negative back-and-forth between the two candidates has left several people making statements in this vein.
denver's mayoral race is in a runoff right now, between Incumbent Sexual Harasser and Professional Gentrifier
— matt berninger fight club (@misandrywitch) May 13, 2019
On the Lighter Side
Thankfully, there has been at least one silver lining in the mayoral runoff: Good comedy.
Chase Woodruff, a staff writer for Westword, provided some tongue-in-cheek humor as the race took a negative turn last week. Here, he tweets analysis of the coverage that we can only assume is sarcasm.
Really great to see the Denver mayoral runoff off to such a strong, high-minded, issues-oriented start. Campaigns, pundits and reporters all laser-focused on policy differences and material stakes. Everyone working hard to give this city the election discourse it deserves
— Chase Woodruff (@dcwoodruff) May 16, 2019
Satirical news site The Onion also drew up this little number in light of Denver’s recent decriminalization of Psilocybin mushrooms.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) May 9, 2019
And one last Tweet to end on. We feel you, Lia. We feel you.