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Mike Johnston, Kelly Brough appear headed to runoff for Denver mayor

With about 2,400 ballots left outstanding, Brough leads Lisa Calderón by about 3,200 votes.

DENVER — Mike Johnston and Kelly Brough appear headed to a June runoff election that will determine who will become Denver's next mayor.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Mike Johnston continues to lead the race with 24.5% of the vote, followed by Kelly Brough with 20%. The candidate in third place, Lisa Calderón, has 18.2% of the vote and trails Brough by 3,211 votes. About 2,400 ballots are still outstanding.

A winner must secure more than 50% of the vote, and with 16 candidates, that was nearly impossible to achieve in the initial election. The runoff will happen June 6 between Johnston and Brough. The pair has held the top two spots since polls closed Tuesday night.

Voters will find similar ideologies in Johnston and Brough. Both want to hire more police officers. Both oppose the idea of rent control. Both say Denver should not have a supervised injection site.

While each candidate wants to enforce the city’s camping ban, Brough said she would forcibly arrest people in violation of the camping ban as a “last resort” if they do not accept the help being provided.

Both are also political insiders – Johnston, a former school principal and former state senator, and Brough, the chief of staff to former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and later president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

A news release from Brough on Thursday afternoon said she's the first female candidate ever to make the runoff for Denver mayor.

“We can’t ignore that Denver faces some challenges at this time in its history, and I’m the only candidate who has ever managed the city," Brough said in the release. "Our residents want and need an optimistic, hands-on leader with real world executive experience.”

Two days ago on social media, Johnston said, "This is not the ending, it is just the first step. Thank you, Denver! I'm excited to get to work to make Denver a city that is vibrant, safe and affordable for all."

In a statement on Twitter, Calderón conceded on Thursday afternoon, saying she was honored to have made it so close to the runoff.

"This election brought together a coalition of unhoused activists, progressive leaders, socialists, dreamers, and radicals who wanted to reimagine what is possible in Denver," she said. "While we did not make it to the runoff, I look forward to continuing this work together."



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