DenverElection 2019FeaturedNews

As one candidate enters Denver’s mayoral race, another drops out

Author: Joey Bunch - October 3, 2018 - Updated: October 3, 2018

Kayvan KhalatbariDenver ex-mayoral candidate Kayvan Khalatbari. (Photo courtesy Kayvan for Denver campaign)

Kayvan Khalatbari cited “personal reasons” related to his family and health Wednesday as he dropped out of next year’s race for Denver mayor.

The announcement by the Denver businessman came just two days after former state Sen. Penfield Tate announced he’ll run in the May 2019 election, presumably against incumbent two-term Mayor Michael Hancock.

Hancock has not formally announced his re-election bid, but he is building up a sizable campaign war chest for the race.

Khalatbari referred questions to his campaign spokeswoman Wednesday. His exit from the campaign was first reported by Westword late Tuesday.

While Tate is a well-known Colorado politico with the ability to raise money, Khalatbari was a first-time candidate that political insiders considered a long-shot against Hancock.

Khalatbari has run what he calls “socially responsible” businesses including Sexy Pizza, Denver Relief Consulting and Birdy Magazine.

Others eying the seat are educator Lisa Calderon, disability rights activist Kalyn Heffernan, social media consultant Marcus Giavanni, technology consultant Ken Simpson and long-time local activist Stephen Evans (he also sometimes goes by Chairman Seku).

> RELATED: Challengers gearing up for 2019 Denver mayoral fray

“It is with tremendous sadness that I am ending my campaign for mayor of Denver, effective today,” Khalatbari said in a statement. “For the past 18 months, I have poured everything of myself into this campaign, as have countless supporters, all of us in the pursuit of a fair and equitable Denver. However, for personal reasons, I must remove myself from this process to focus on my family and my personal health and wellness.

“I can not thank enough all the people who have been participants in building this movement, including those who have helped educate and inform me on Denver’s vast and vibrant communities and the many pressing issues we are facing,” he added.

Khalatbari said he thought his campaign created “a spark” that motivated others to get involved.

“It is my hope that current elected officials, candidates and the residents of Denver will continue to listen to each other, to find common ground, and to work together, because we can’t resolve these issues divided,” he stated. “Denver has an exciting opportunity to engage in some very important conversations leading up to next May’s election. Even though I will not be continuing in my role as a candidate, I look forward to being a part of this dialogue, fighting beside you for the Denver that we love.”

He said that after he paid his campaign staff he would return campaign donations. Any money left after that would go to Denver ballot initiatives Khalatbari supports: Caring 4 Denver, a sales tax hike to pay for mental health and substance abuse programs in the city; Democracy for the People to lower campaign finance contribution limits; and Right to Survive to address homelessness.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.