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Dangerous Liaisons

Strategic talk about winning Denver's most coveted seat.

The eight major candidates for mayor each have a strategy to break out of the pack in the May 6 election and make it into the anticipated June runoff. Of course, there's often a difference between what they'll publicly claim is their strategy and what's going on behind the scenes. Here's a look at what the candidates say on the record and what insiders know is really going on.

Susan Casey
The campaign: "Our winning strategy is simple: meeting voters, sharing her ideas and listening to theirs every day throughout Denver, in homes, businesses and community centers. Susan has support from every corner of Denver, with many people joining the campaign who have never been involved in politics but are inspired by Susan and her vision." -- Kelly Jean Brough, campaign manager

Insiders: A respected former city councilwoman, Casey is going after the "good government" voters whose priority is honesty and ethics. She'll target Washington Park liberals and women voters, especially "soccer moms" (the term was coined for her), who worry about education and safety issues.

John Hickenlooper Jr.
The campaign: "The Hickenlooper campaign is energizing voters tired of politics as usual who are excited by John's vision and new ideas for the city. We are taking John's ideas for economic development, education and a great quality of life to the voters through a grassroots effort, door-to-door and neighborhood by neighborhood, across the city." -- Paul Lhevine, campaign manager

Insiders: Hickenlooper's a political novice, but he may be the big surprise in this campaign. He'll target the people who've moved to Denver in recent years, especially younger voters who enjoy the LoDo scene. He'll try to put together a coalition of yuppies and white liberals, with enough minority support to get him into the runoff.

Don Mares
The campaign: "Our campaign is focused on a grassroots plan to have Don reach as many Denver voters as possible one-on-one to talk about Don's history of solving city problems and protecting the citizens of Denver." -- Cody Wertz, spokesman for the Mares campaign

Insiders: Mares is betting that a coalition of Hispanics and labor unions can get him into the runoff. He's also appealed to Democratic Party activists. He'll play up his role as auditor to convince moderate voters that he'll crack down on government waste.

Phil Perington
The campaign:"My strategy is three-fold. First, I am spending campaign money wisely. By producing our own ads and not hiring high-priced political and media consultants, I can get my message out for a fraction of the price of what other candidates are spending. The second component is to let people know I am a straight talker. I'm not afraid to speak frankly about difficult issues. Lastly, I want the voters to contrast my experience against the other candidates and see if I have the best combination of experience and real-world business." - Phil Perington

Insiders: Perington has to hope that voters will forget his tumultuous reign as head of the Colorado Democratic Party, when he antagonized many office-holders and activists. Perington has left the party and become an independent. With no real base, his candidacy isn't likely to go far.

Elizabeth Schlosser
The campaign: "My strategy is to get Denver voters excited. I am running a grassroots campaign based on ideas and integrity. This job is about management. No one owns me! I care about Denver and will put our citizens first." -- Elizabeth Schlosser

Insiders: A historic preservationist and onetime art-gallery owner, Schlosser has never run for office before and is considered a long shot. She'll target the disillusioned and disenfranchised.

Jeremy Stefanek
The campaign: "My campaign strategy is to target young voters. I go down to LoDo at night, and most of my campaigning is at night. I want to get our age group out to vote. Tomorrow night [February 21], we're having a party at the Keg." -- Jeremy Stefanek

Insiders: Denver's political savants have one question: Who is he? A thirty-year-old bachelor and former vice president of Computer Associates who now works in his family's carpet business, likes to read Maxim and plays in the park with his black Labrador, Toby, that's who.

Penfield Tate III
The campaign: "I start with a base in Senate District 33, which comprises a quarter of the city's voters. In being elected from District 33, I've got a record of bringing people together -- the business community and community leaders, black and white, Hispanic and Anglo, families and workers, Democrats and Republicans. I've built exactly the kind of coalitions a candidate for mayor will need to win citywide." - Penfield Tate

Insiders: The son of a popular Boulder mayor, Tate is well liked in his district. He just left the state Senate to run full-time for mayor, but insiders wonder if he waited too long to jump into the campaign. Tate's biggest problem is that he doesn't have unanimous support in the black community, and his relationship with Wellington Webb could be described as frosty. He'll try to unify African-Americans and reach out to white liberals and moderates. He's also made inroads with the business community. A charismatic speaker, he's done well in debates and could pull off an upset.

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