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Chris Romer wins James Mejia endorsement in Denver mayor's race

Update: Why did James Mejia, who finished third in the initial round of voting for Denver mayor, choose to reject conventional wisdom and endorse frontrunner Chris Romer over second-place finisher Michael Hancock? Mejia spokesman Berrick Abramson says the decision had a lot to do complimentary ideas and Romer's willingness to make Mejia a partner in the campaign moving forward.

"James had a lot of conversations with both Michael and Chris," Abramson says. "He's known both of them for years, and he wanted to sit down with them and understand their receptivity and openness to the policies and the ideas and the vision he talked about during the campaign. And ultimately, the decision was about who he believed is the person to shape Denver for the next four, eight or twelve years.

"He didn't make the decision alone. He talked to his wife and he talked to his campaign team. But there were clear differences when he met with both candidates in what they viewed was important in James's issues. James thinks there was a reason he got into this race: We feel he laid out the clearest and most specific vision for Denver. And he wanted to gauge which of the remaining two candidates those things resonated with, which of them were most open to integrating some of those ideas and had spent the time to understand them, and who would be best prepared to move those ideas forward if elected mayor."

This process doesn't end with Mejia's endorsement of Romer, Abramson emphasizes. "This is a true merging of the two campaign operations," he maintains. "James will be one of the chairs of the Romer campaign, and he will be involved in the strategic decision-making and operations. He will be working every bit as hard and be every bit involved in this campaign as he was in his own."

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Does that mean Mejia will have a role in a Romer administration?

"What is envisioned is that through the campaign into a transition, and then into a Romer mayoral administration, this will be a true partnership," Abramson says. "What form that takes will develop and take shape as these two work very closely together in the coming weeks and months. But there's not a specific position or structure to it other than that they both strongly believe their skill sets, their background and their experiences are very complimentary to each other -- and that the best thing for Denver is James Mejia and Chris Romer united for the city."

Abramson adds that "in the days ahead, I would expect they will be talking together about a number of issues -- because this is going to be a campaign about the issues, about policy solutions and vision. And the two of them will be rolling a lot of that out together."

Look below for our previous coverage.

Original item, 10:22 a.m. May 9: The assumption among many political observers was that James Mejia, who wound up third in the initial round of voting for Denver mayor, would wind up backing second-place finisher Michael Hancock.

But no: This morning, Mejia announced that he would throw his support behind the frontrunner, Chris Romer.

Romer spokesman Zach Knaus is enthusiastic about this development. "We are excited that Team Romer and Team Mejia are joining forces to move Denver forward," he says.

According to Knaus, Romer and Mejia hung out in recent days, and they found common ground. "James has said he appreciated that Chris spent a lot of time looking at some of the plans he'd put together -- one of them being James's sustainability plan. And that really impressed him. And I think both of them have been working to improve economic development and bring jobs to Denver. The two of them can bring a lot of people together to the table -- so this partnership is a big deal."

The combination of votes collected by Romer and Mejia in round one totals more than 50 percent -- but Knaus stresses that "we're not taking anything for granted. We're going neighborhood by neighborhood and voter by voter to discuss the issues important to them."

And Hancock? His spokeswoman, Amber Miller, directs us to a statement he put out this morning to "welcome Mejia supporters." It reads as follows:

I know this was not an easy decision for James to make. He ran a great campaign and I wish him luck in his future endeavors. From the beginning of our campaign, we knew this was going to be a race earned through hard work. I am no stranger to struggle and am determined to win this race. We will continue to build momentum and will work hard to earn the support of Denver voters over the next four weeks, including those who voted for James. We are all Denver and we welcome Mejia supporters to Team Hancock.

More from our Politics archive: "James Mejia: A Denver mayor's race profile."

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