Monday, April 15, 2024 -
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From the archives: Denver mayoral races

With the IJN’s Mayoral Forum coming up next week, all things local governance are on our collective minds. So we decided to browse the pages of the IJN to see who earlier mayoral campaigns were covered. A conclusion we can say with strong certainty: Never before** have this many candidates run for Denver’s top job.

A political advertisement for candidate Thomas J. Morrissey in the 1947 election caught our attention. The campaign outlines Morrissey’s platform, and it was amazing how much of it still resonates today, 76 years later, with of course, some differences.

First, the differences. Morrissey’s campaign language takes for granted that the position will be held by a “he.” Denver’s race in 2023 has more than one female candidate, with several being considered among the strongest to win. Another difference: Morrissey served the United States in WW I! OK, that’s more of a technicality, as military record is still often an important part of a politician’s resume.

Speaking of resumes, onto the similarities. Morrissey’s pedigree is similar to many of today’s political candidates. Public service, in Morrissey’s case serving as US District Attorney for Colorado. Then there’s Morrissey’s tagline: “Vote for a better Denver — with decent streets — decent housing — an equal opportunity for all.” Two of those items streets (safety) and housing are the top items in April’s election this year.

Parsing the Morrissey ad, a few phrases pique our interest and we’re curious to gauge our impressions of them following next week’s forum.

Morrissey says that the city’s next mayor “must be a capable, alert executive with a long record of proven success. Denver’s mayor is actually the executive head of a multi-million dollar business.” Indeed, except the budget now exceeds $1 billion. We look forward to hearing from candidates how they will manage the company.

Morrissey also says he earned praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for his work as US Attorney. With partisanship at an all-time high, but with the mayor’s office technically non-partistan, we are eager to see if candidates present themselves on a party line or if they seek to find solutions by engaging all manner of folk.

Then’s there the testimonial from David H. Morris, “prominent Denver attorney and Jewish leader.” We hope whoever is elected could have the same said about him or her as how Morris described Morrissey. “He is not only fair and just but absolutely unbiased, with a burning hatred against discrimination because of creed, color or race.”

Coincidentally, Mr. Morrissey was defeated in his race for mayor by Quigg Newton, whose mansion was on the site of where the current IJN building stands.

This online feature explores the IJN’s new digital archive, discovering the news of the week, years ago.

**Well, at least from 1924-1969, the period covered in our current digital archive.

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