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Trash-Talking Denver Mayoral Candidates In Dead Heat

Sun., June 4, 1995

After a campaign notable more for negative tactics than issues, the city’s first black mayor and the first woman within reach of Denver’s mayoralty are virtually deadlocked heading into Tuesday’s election.

Mayor Wellington Webb and Councilwoman Mary DeGroot may have alienated some voters with their incessant criticism of each other, said Paul Talmey, a Boulder-based pollster. “I think both of their images have suffered,” he said.

“I see a low voter turnout,” said Denver pollster Buie Seawell. “When a campaign turns negative - like this one - it tends to flatten turnout. Marginal voters get very disgusted and don’t turn out.”

Webb is seeking his second four-year term as mayor. DeGroot has been on the City Council for eight years. Recent polls show them about even, with more than 10 percent of poll respondents saying they are undecided.

In the May 2 general election, DeGroot outpolled Webb by a mere 97 votes, 44,254 to 44,157, in a four-way race. They were thrown into the runoff since none got more than 50 percent of the votes cast.

DeGroot has been pointing to alleged incidents of cronyism and political favoritism by the Webb administration, which she said has brought a “Chicago style of city government” to Denver.

Webb, 54, calls DeGroot’s criticisms “outrageous attempts” to distract voters from serious issues, such as education, crime and employment.

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