Bill Vidal not running for mayor -- but he does accuse John Hickenlooper of throwing tantrum

Given how many people are running for Denver mayor, it's a relief someone has said no. But interim mayor Bill Vidal's latest statement that he won't join the race was preceded by an e-mail to supporters sent when he was considering a bid -- and its blunt language, including an accusation that John Hickenlooper had thrown a "temper tantrum," suggests he would have livened up an already lively campaign.

The e-mail was obtained by the Denver Post, whose story about Vidal's back-and-forthing, penned by Jeremy Meyer, is occasionally confusing but consistently entertaining. The e-mail, sent to a handful of supporters Monday morning under the subject line "Governor Hickenlooper" and featuring occasional typos and grammatical rough spots, reads as follows:

dear friends,

I cannot thank you enough for the generous and kind support you have given me.

After feeling hurt by the governor's reaction since our meeting last Friday, I am over it. I realize I cannot control his behavior nor support. In many ways, this has been very helpful, in that it has helped me to claim my identity in this new situation. Gay knows me well, and she will kiddingly proclaim that, when I want to strike back at bullies, I have converted back to the "orphanage boy," but if anything, my experienced has taught me the importance of speaking truth to power. Here is what I have learned over the past few days;

1) I am the mayor of Denver now, and I will not avoid doing what I believe is the right thing for the city just to enlist the governor's support. If doing the right things for the city ends my tenure as mayor in six months, so be it. I love our city too much to not do right by it for anyone.

2) There are those who will say that I have broken my word and therefore could not be trusted in this position. To those, I say the following;

I have absolutely not broken my word to the governor. For the last six years that I have been appointed deputy mayor, I was never once told that, in fairness to future candidates, this appointment had the condition that I could not run should I ever become the mayor. When I was asked to commit to staying as deputy mayor so that John could run for governor and convince our citizens that the city would be well run during campaign, no such restriction was ever required. While it is true that I have been saying that I would not run, that was my decision based on my belief that I did not have the name recognition, the experience or connections to mount a political campaign to run for mayor. Now that has changed.

My parents sacrificed everything they had for me to have a better life in this country. Thanks to them, I have been able to benefit from every opportunity this country has to offer. Unfortunately, form time to time, someone has come along who would try to deny me those opportunities because they do not think I should be looking to climb above my proper station. Fortunately, like many others, I have never let that stop me.

There is nothing illegal,immoral or unethical for someone who came into office by appointment to later run for that office as the incumbent. American history is filled with such instances, most recently was the election of Senator Bennet who had been appointed for the position by Governor Bill Ritter. It is very disappointing for me to see a person for whom I have worked with and have been loyal to for the past seven years try to shackle my opportunity to run for office. Clearly, I am a very qualified to be mayor of Denver and we ought to allow the citizens of Denver to take my candidacy into account when deciding what is best for the city.

Friends, I do not want to sacrifice my personal integrity and reputation to cover for the governor's inexplicable temper tantrum, that is not right. Therefore I think we should move ahead, with or without his support, but we should be prepared to include a statement like the one I have just made (after scrutinized and modified by your objective perspective) if he cannot find a way to properly allow me to run.

I am sure we will talk about this further, but wanted you to know where I stand.

Apparently, plenty of scrutinizing and modification took place over the next 24 hours -- because yesterday morning, Vidal issued this statement:

Gaby and I have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of support and generous advice that we have received. It has been an honor to know that so many people who we respect and admire encouraged me to seek a full term as Mayor. Out of our deep respect for all of you, we processed all the encouraging thoughts and good wishes. Several years ago, Gaby and I made a commitment to each other to take a sabbatical. This past summer, she kept her end of the bargain and retired from CDOT after 30 years of service. I was scheduled to leave the City last November, but out of love for our City, we postponed our plans so that I could serve as Mayor upon the outcome of the gubernatorial election. Therefore, my decision remains as I always have stated -- to honor my commitment to my wonderful wife as she has honored her commitment to me, that we would take a sabbatical once my term was completed on July 18. As I said on January 12, in my inaugural address as Mayor, my focus for the next six months will be on meeting the great responsibilities of this office. These are challenging times as we face a significant budget deficit for a fourth consecutive year and a struggling economy that has created much hardship for many Denverites. We have much to do over the next several months. We will steadfastly support our business community in revitalizing Denver's economy; we will ensure that the City functions cost-effectively and with the highest commitment to customer service and public safety for all of our residents and businesses; we will focus on serving our most vulnerable residents, the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, our children and our elderly. And we will work with devotion to ensure a smooth transition for the next mayor of Denver. It is a privilege to serve as your Mayor. We will continue our work together to build a great future for Denver.

So what the hell happened? According to the Post, Hickenlooper denies that he had a fit but reveals he'd promised mayoral candidates such as Chris Romer and James Mejia a "level playing field" -- one that would have tilted, in his estimation, if Vidal reversed his decision and became a contender with the (temporary) power of the incumbency behind him.

For his part, Vidal chalks up his presumably final decision to keep his hat out of the ring to conversations with former mayors Wellington Webb and Federico Peña, who told him fundraising would be difficult for anyone declaring at this late date.

As a result, the fiery passion that flames throughout the e-mail above won't ignite the mayoral campaign -- unless, that is, Vidal changes his mind again.

More from our Politics archive: "James Mejia: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Doug Linkhart: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Forrester: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Michael Hancock: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Danny Lopez: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Chris Romer: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Carol Boigon: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Thomas Andrew Wolf: A Denver mayor's race profile," "Eric Zinn, mayoral hopeful, wants Denver to lose a million pounds," "Gerald Styron, Denver mayor candidate, once threatened to bring a gun to Westword," and "Paul Noel Fiorino: A Denver mayor's race profile."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts