It's official. Earlier this morning, James Mejia posted a message on his campaign Facebook page conceding in the first round of the Denver mayoral election. But while he offered congratulations to top-two finishers Chris Romer and Michael Hancock, he hasn't endorsed either of them yet. However, he'll be watching their first runoff debate, beginning at 8 a.m. this morning at the DCPA's Seawell Grand Ballroom, as part of his decision-making process.
Mejia finished third in Tuesday's balloting, collecting just over 25 percent of the vote. That put him a couple of thousand votes behind Hancock, who came in second, but he didn't immediately concede. Why not?
"We knew that there were some 500 provisional ballots, a thousand over- and under-votes, and in the neighborhood of 2,500 ballots with some question of their signatures that people had the opportunity to cure," says Berrick Abramson, Mejia's campaign manager. "We wanted those to be counted or reviewed to make sure where they were in the process. It was not a matter of questioning the election. James felt he owed it to his supporters to make sure all votes were counted and no ballots were still lingering that might close a very small margin. But after taking a look at those votes, he realized the best decision was to recognize the vote from Tuesday night and congratulate both Michael and Chris" -- which he did via phone call late last night.
Regarding an endorsement, "he has not made a decision on that," Abramson notes, "but I would expect he'll be having conversations with both Michael and Chris. There are some issues he talked about in the campaign that are very important to him, and he wants to see those things addressed."
Such as? "He's very supportive of the Buy Denver initiative, very supportive of local businesses and the opportunity to develop the South Platte, very supportive of the arts -- and he wants to make sure we build a world-class education system.
"Those are the things that drove him to run," Abramson continues, "and those are the things that 25-plus percent of voters in this election found important. He wants to make sure that whoever's going to be our next mayor is going to be addressing those important issues and is the candidate most prepared to do so."
In the meantime, Abramson says, Mejia is "very grateful for the support. He thinks there are great things ahead for Denver and looks forward to the next thirty days."
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He's also anticipating the mayoral forum, which gets underway moments from now.
Here's Mejia's concessionary statement:
For over a year I have been campaigning to become Denver's next mayor. Our team of staff and volunteers ran an efficient and effective campaign. It was only through our team's strategy, dedication and passion that we very nearly made the runoff. But we fell short. After verifying all votes that were counted Wednesday, I called Michael Hancock to congratulate him on making it to the runoff. On Tuesday night, I called Chris Romer to congratulate him as well.
In just one more month, the next Mayor of Denver will be named and I am optimistic about our future. I know that our team has affected the direction of Denver's next steps and we may continue to play a role. I want to ensure that our ideas about moving Denver forward continue to be discussed including:
• Renovating neighborhoods along the Platte River Valley • Supporting Denver artists and growing our world-class cultural institutions • Growing Denver's small business community by promoting our Buy Denver, Hire Denver initiative • Establishing Denver as the sustainability and new energy capital of the world
I am humbled by the outpouring of support for my campaign and for my family. I am grateful for the numerous volunteers that made this journey authentically grassroots and took us to the brink of the runoff.
Please join me in thanking all of the mayoral candidates who finished this race with the courage of putting forward their ideas and elevating the community conversation with creative solutions for Denver. Also, please join me in congratulating Michael Hancock and Chris Romer for making it to the runoff.
Thank you for your support!