Mayor candidate Chris Hansen releases the race’s first TV ad

It features the state senator placing a Band-Aid on a doorbell camera.
4 min. read
Chris Hansen speaks during a mayoral debate at Regis University. Feb. 9, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

State senator Chris Hansen is the first candidate in the crowded mayor race to get an ad up on one of the major local TV stations.

Hansen took a more traditional approach to this ad, as opposed to the flashy Marvel's Avengers-style video announcing his candidacy.

The new TV ad focuses on public safety. It starts with footage of tents standing up on a sidewalk, two people fighting and a person stealing what looks like a mailbox. Hansen says: "How did it come to this? This is not the Denver I want for our kids."

Hansen is seen on a doorbell camera video walking up to a porch, the type of video that has become ubiquitous showing all types of crime on social media and news coverage, from stealing of packages to shootings. Hansen puts a Band-Aid over the camera, and says "And City Hall's response isn't working."

Then he shares his broad  vision for the city: auditing the more than $250 million in homeless programs, enforcing the camping ban, and investing in the police.

He then removes the Band-Aid from the doorbell camera and says, "I have plans to solve these problems - not hide from them."

Hansen is the first to buy ad time on TV, according to public records from the FCC political file. 

He bought commercial spots on 9News, Denver7, CBS4 and Fox31 between now and next Monday, spending $72,935 for 128 spots between those stations.

There's a history of early ads paying off in Denver.

Former mayor John Hickenlooper, in his book "The Opposite of Woe," credited getting on TV early in 2003 with giving his campaign momentum.

"The conventional wisdom widely held by sensible political strategists," Hickenlooper wrote. "Was that you don't want to put the ads up too early and not have enough money to keep them up for the entire campaign."

Hickenlooper's ads were unusually quirky, and they got people's attention.

"Everyone loved it. People were buzzing about it," he wrote. "The dark horse was out of the barn."

While Hansen's ad may not have the same style and humor of Hickenlooper's, political watchers said getting out first was a shrewd campaign move, especially considering there are 17 candidates to replace Mayor Michael Hancock, who is term-limited after 12 years.

"Going up early makes you the first, and the reference point," James Mejia, a candidate for Denver mayor in 2011, said. 

Mejia says it's not too early to release an ad, when you consider the election is a month sooner than usual to accommodate a longer, two-month runoff. "I would say it shows organization, it shows viability. And when mentioned in the media or in conversation, people always go back to refer to who that was, who the first was."

The ad, "I think solidly cements Chris among the top five candidates," Mejia said.

As it happens, Hansen is fifth in terms of money raised in this race, collecting $290,958, a somewhat surprising total, given he entered the race much later than the other top fundraising candidates.

Back in 2003, Hickenlooper was confident that getting on TV early would help his campaign fundraising, and Mejia agrees that could be the case for Hansen.

"No question. In fundraising people want to know they're betting on someone who's got a shot," said Mejia. "Momentum begets fundraising."

Still other analysts wondered if Hansen could keep it up.

Eric Sondermann, who was part of former Denver mayor Federico Peña's campaigns, said it's a solid ad, but given the enormous cost of TV, "the question is whether he has the funds to sustain this TV presence or if this is a one-week flash in the pan."

Watch the full ad here:

This article has been updated with Hansen's new spending totals on the ads and another station that will be running them.

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