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Denver mayor's race: And they're off!

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Now that John Hickenlooper has been sworn in as governor, and Bill Vidal is officially Denver's interim mayor, the focus will soon shift to the race for the next mayor. A dozen candidates have already declared, and two high-profile names -- Linda Alvarado and Walter Isenberg -- are reportedly mulling races of their own. But when handicapping this race, all bets are off.

Although the first round of voting is less than four months away, on May 3, it's still too early to pick a favorite. Consider this: At this time eight years ago, political pundits weren't giving the John Hickenlooper candidacy a chance.

In January 2003, a high-profile political firm offered a private briefing on how it saw things shaping up. Former police chief Ari Zavaras was the man to beat, although Denver City Auditor Don Mares had legs.

And John Hickenlooper? He might be a "spoiler" who could take enough votes from one of the two frontrunners to shift their order. But mayor? No way.

Less than four months later, Hickenlooper blew past those frontrunners.

And they're off.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "John Hickenlooper: Coining a new governor at the State Capitol, and keeping the change."

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