Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Wins Bruising Election. Now Other Big Challenges Await Him

Jun 5, 2019

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was re-elected to a third term Tuesday following a bruising runoff election that was dominated by personal attacks and a debate over how the city should grow in the future.

Speaking to dozens of supporters at his election night watch party, Hancock said he’d keep fighting to reduce traffic congestion and help the city’s homeless population.

“I’m gonna keep working every day to keep Denver the best city in America to get a job, to have a home and to build a future,” he said.

Hancock won the race by double digits. But a political observer who has watched mayoral races in Denver for decades thinks Hancock didn’t emerge from the race unscathed.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock addresses supporters at an election night watch party.
Credit Scott Franz

Eric Sondermann said Hancock will have to overcome several challenges as he starts four more years at City Hall.

“He’s been bruised up pretty bad in this process, and many of the wounds are self-inflicted wounds,” Sondermann said. “It was a bloody battle, and he really took down his opponent more than he built himself up.”

During the race, Giellis pointed out sexually suggestive texts sent by the mayor, while Hancock focused on perceived racial insensitivity by his challenger.

Sondermann said there are also potential pitfalls for any elected official serving a third and final term.

“When I look back at other third terms whether they’re mayors or previous governors…, third terms were often a time of distraction,” he said. “Some would be tuned out. Some would be looking to what their next gig is. That’s Hancock’s danger. How do you keep a third term fresh and new and energized and engaged?”

But Sondermann said there are benefits to having a familiar face return to City Hall.

"The advantage is some degree of continuity," Sondermann said. "He knows the office. He has his team."

Hancock appeared upbeat Tuesday night as he was flanked by former Governor John Hickenlooper and other campaign supporters at his election celebration.

The crowd chanted “four more years” as Hancock spoke.

“In a city so full of possibilities, I want every child to achieve their dreams the way that I did and I was able to,” he said. “I want every person to realize their dreams. Every worker to build a career. Every family to secure their future. That’s what this campaign was all about from the beginning.”