Mike Johnston endorse by State Rep. Leslie Herod in Denver mayor runoff race

Mike Johnston has earned the support of former rival State Rep. Leslie Herod as he competes with Kelly Brough in the runoff stage of Denver’s 2023 mayor’s race.

Johnston and Herod appeared side by side Monday morning at a media event in Civic Center Park with the Denver city and county building that is home to the mayor’s office serving as a backdrop.

While the two differed on some big issues during the initial round of campaigning, Herod said their shared values — particularly on homelessness response — led her to endorse Johnston.

“The question I had from Mike is, ‘Quite frankly, will you arrest people who are on the streets homeless simply because they are homeless?’” Herod said. “His answer to me was ‘We will get them in housing.’ And that’s the kind of hope that I think Denver needs.”

That contrasts with Brough. Johnston’s opponent in the runoff has said she will use arrests and involuntary mental health holds as a last resort to get people off the street if they refuse services or to move to planned sanction camping sites.

Denver does not need “a cynical mayor who thinks jail is the right answer for people who are struggling on the streets today,” Herod said.

Johnston, flanked by supporters waving blue and yellow signs, lauded Herod for running a visionary campaign for mayor and for her accomplishments in politics including becoming the first out LGBTQ Black woman elected to the state legislature.

“I think Leslie has built an incredible coalition of leaders, of creators, of innovators and people who have real progressive values they want to see brought to the city,” he said. “And for us, that’s a really impressive and important step to broaden our coalition.”

Johnston’s nod to Herod’s progressive values hints at the path he sees to the mayor’s office. Both he and Brough were among the moderate candidates in the mayor’s race. Herod ran a campaign to the left of them, endorsing policies like opening a safe drug use site in the city to combat the overdose crisis, something both Brough and Johnston have said they would not support.

Johnston netted the most votes in the April 4 municipal election, 42,273, to move on to the runoff stage. Brough came in second with 34,627. Heord was one of only five of the 16 candidates who ran for mayor to earn at least 10% support. She had 18,506 Denverites vote for her.

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