The race for Ward 3 took an unexpected turn with the incumbent’s decision to run for state representative. When Perlmutter declared his intention to run for Governor it set off a round of musical chairs throughout Jefferson County. State representative Brittany Peterson declared she would be running for Perlmutter’s CD7 congressional seat. The possibility of State House District 28 being vacated by Peterson was all the incentive Shakti needed to finally get out of City Council. To observers it has always been clear Shakti was not very interested in either local city issues or Ward 3 constituents. Her focus during her first term was on state issues. She was far more interested in her membership on the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the legislative affairs committee. From the list of endorsements from area politicians it appears her focus in those areas are paying off for her politically.
Assuming Shakti is not running for re-election to council, the question arises who will the establishment run to hold this seat from a strong challenge from local attorney Michael Bieda. The obvious choice is Gary Harty. This Shakti supporter ran against the other Ward 3 councilor, Pete Roybal, in 2015. Although Roybal gave him a good spanking, holding him to a little over 40% of the vote, Harty now has some name recognition. The establishment raised nearly $11,000 for him in his first race, so it’s safe to assume there will another flood of special interest money for him this year.
Another good clue is Harty has been down at City Hall the last couple months pushing his bicycle agenda. While this bicycle / sustainability theme plays well in liberal Democratic circles, it’s not clear how attractive that is going to be with the average Ward 3 voter. Michael Bieda, with the support of Pete Roybal, has been focused on local constituent service issues. Since most voters are not as ardent bike riders as Harty, it’s hard to see how he can relate to Ward 3 voters. If Bieda can keep the campaign finance gap to less than a two to one ratio, then he should be in good shape to take the seat for the independents. However, if Harty is able to raise more than twice as much campaign money as Bieda then he could keep the seat in establishment hands.