Saturday, April 28, 2007

DIffering interpretations of Hick's relative popularity

Stuart Steers of the Rocky Mountain News writes "Despite slips, Hick feels the love."

However, the real meat of the article is in the subtitle, which provides historical comparison: "Easy re-election was never in cards for Peña, Webb."
There are differing explanations for the Hickenlooper phenomenon, ranging from the mayor's boyish charisma to his history as a downtown businessman who is comfortable with Denver's corporate elite.

By contrast, both Peña and Webb were seen as outsiders who were committed to opening up City Hall to people who had been excluded - including women, Hispanics, blacks, and gays. Peña was Denver's first Hispanic mayor, and Webb was the city's first black mayor. Barnes-Gelt thinks that partly explains Hickenlooper's success...

Webb has said he believes minority mayors receive far more criticism than their Anglo counterparts.

"Both Mayor Peña and myself took arrows for being firsts," said Webb. "If you go up to City Hall and look at the picture of mayors, there are only two that are different. John is the 39th or 40th white man."...

Peña disagrees with those who attribute part of Hickenlooper's success to race. Peña says his narrow re-election in 1987 was largely because the local economy imploded during the mid-'80s oil bust.

"In 1987, any mayor would have received complaints regardless of ethnicity or race," said Peña.

Denver's largely white electorate gave him two terms and Wellington Webb three terms, Peña pointed out.

"The people of Denver have been very supportive of individuals regardless of ethnic background," he said...

Hickenlooper doesn't dispute that his background as the owner of several of downtown's most successful restaurants helped give him a network of well-connected supporters. But he was visibly annoyed at the suggestion he is part of a "white boys club."

"I think that characterization is unfair," he said. "We are as trusted and have as positive a relationship in Latino and African-American communities as we do in Anglo communities."

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