Lisa Calderón endorses Mike Johnston in Denver mayor runoff

Lisa Calderón, whose progressive campaign for Denver mayor brought her within 3,134 votes of advancing in April’s general election, has endorsed Mike Johnston in the runoff stage of the race that concludes on June 6.

Calderón announced her support for Johnston on Tuesday morning outside the La Alma Recreation Center in west Denver’s historic La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhood, a pocket of the city with deep ties to the Chicano Movement. Ballots for the runoff are being mailed to voters this week.

“This is about the future versus the past, and that our ideas actually can potentially take root and flourish in a Johnston administration,” Calderón said.

The Afro-Latina professor, activist and nonprofit leader just a few weeks ago declined to comment on if she planned to endorse Johnston or Kelly Brough, the former head of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, in the runoff. The two mayoral finalists have run significantly more moderate campaigns than Calderón whose campaign planks included providing sanitation stations for homeless encampments and reforming the Denver police department as opposed to growing its ranks.

Johnston came in first in the general election with 24.5% of the vote, Brough second with 20% and Calderón third with 18.2%. In her concession statement, Calderón was critical of the top finishers, both of whom benefit from significant outside spending.

“I ran this campaign because corporate-backed candidates will never get us to liberation, racial equity or gender justice for marginalized groups and working people,” she said at the time.

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Since then, the Johnston campaign has collected endorsements from a number of candidates who ran to his left including State Rep. Leslie Herod, who came in fifth in the general election with 10.7% of the vote as well as other mayoral hopefuls Ean Thomas Tafoya, Terrance Roberts, Al Gardner and Jim Walsh.

Brough meanwhile is being backed by more centrist former candidates including state Sen. Chris Hansen and investment banker Thomas Wolf. Former Tattered Cover Book Store CEO Kwame Spearman dropped out before Election Day and endorsed Brough.

In a series of posts on Twitter Monday, Calderón said she arrived at her decision to endorse in the race after coalition meetings and interviews with both candidates and with extensive input from Latino leaders. She emphasized that Latinos have been underrepresented in city appointee and leadership positions. Both candidates were asked a long list of questions around if they intended to address issues of concern to historically marginalized communities, she said.

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