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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at the opening of a new Denver Zoo grizzly bear exhibit on May 15, 2019. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock handily won re-election to a third term leading the city on Tuesday night, keeping his job despite a bruising runoff race that resurfaced sexual harassment allegations against him and raised questions about his ties to developers.

Ultimately, voters decided to keep Hancock in place as the leader of one of the nation’s most economically vibrant cities in the country instead of opting for a new direction in political newcomer Jamie Giellis.

Giellis conceded the race just before 9:30 p.m. on election night as the Denver Elections Division showed her trailing by more than 16,000 votes.

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By 10 p.m., Hancock had 56 percent of the vote in the two-way race.

“I want you to hear me clearly tonight, Denver,” Hancock said in declaring victory. “I heard you. And I will not forsake the trust that you’ve invested in me tonight.”

The race to the finish was a fierce battle between Hancock and Giellis, who traded barbs and hosted dueling news conferences in the weeks leading up to Tuesday.

He painted her as being out of touch with Denver’s diverse communities after a series of stumbles on race. She painted him as allowing a culture of sexual harassment to thrive in city government.

MORE: Denver’s mayoral race is coming down to a fiery personality clash. What does that say about Colorado’s capital city?

Giellis, who led the River North Art District, pitched herself to voters as a way to reset Denver and move it in a direction better suited to handle problems of growth, affordability, congestion and homelessness. In her bid to become the city’s first female mayor, she called development “runaway” and campaigned for more regulation to slow things down.

Hancock acknowledged that work needed to be done in the city, but ran on a message that it’s better to have to react to problems of expansion than try to prop up a dying city.

“Today, Denver is leading the country in good jobs and quality of life and lifting people and families up and supporting our communities and neighborhoods,” Hancock proclaimed, flanked by former Mayor Wellington Webb and Gov. John Hickenlooper. “And we won’t stop now.”

Giellis said she hoped the mayor and his administration will consider the issues raised during the campaign during his final term.

“You have brought me from Nov. 1 with practically no name recognition a political newby to the system — a regular person, as Channel 9 called me today — and you helped me take on a machine,” Giellis said in conceding. “We knew fighting an incumbent would be hard, but, my god, look how far we’ve come. And we will continue to fight.”

Jaimie Giellis, a political newcomer running for Denver mayor, speaks at a news conference on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

On Monday, Giellis vowed to continue challenging Hancock’s administration if her campaign came up short.

“I’ve certainly never been afraid to battle the administration before,” she told 9News anchor Kyle Clark. “I won’t be afraid to battle it going forward. And this is what I do, it’s what I love — it’s my passion. I believe that if Michael Hancock continues as the next mayor, we still have a lot of work to do that I don’t feel will get addressed by that administration.”

Other races being decided on Tuesday night

The latest election results can be found here. These are the final, unofficial results. There is an 8-day, post-election window that could slightly change the numbers below.

  • Denver Clerk: Paul Lopez 50.09% to Peg Perl 49.91%
  • City Council District 1: Amanda Sandoval 67% to Mike Somma 33%
  • City Council District 3: Jamie Torres 57% to Veronica Barela 43%
  • City Council District 5: Amanda Sawyer 58% has beaten incumbent Mary Beth Susman 42%
  • City Council District 9: Candi CdeBaca 52% has beaten incumbent Albus Brooks 48%
  • City Council District 10: Chris Hinds 57% to incumbent Wayne New 43%
  • Initiative 302 (should voters be asked before city money is spent on Olympic Games): Yes 80%

Jesse Paul

The Colorado Sun — Desk: 720-432-2229 Jesse Paul is a political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is...