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What Social Media Tells Us About Denver’s Mayoral Runoff Race

Here are some of the most important tweets, comments, and questions about the race to become Denver's next mayor.

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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.

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The Endorsements

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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:

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.

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Giellis’ campaign responded the same day, accusing the incumbent mayor of deceiving the public and using scare tactics.

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.

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Later that night, after a 9News debate with the Mayor, Giellis’ campaign Twitter account doubled down on those accusations.

The negative back-and-forth between the two candidates has left several people making statements in this vein.

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.

Satirical news site The Onion also drew up this little number in light of Denver’s recent decriminalization of Psilocybin mushrooms.

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And one last Tweet to end on. We feel you, Lia. We feel you.

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