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Longtime Denver mayor ousted

In the midst of a heavy May snowstorm, the leader of one of the nation's few remaining big-city political machines went down to defeat - Denver's mayor of 14 years, Bill McNichols.

Monitor correspondent David F. Salisbury writes that the surprise front-runner in the balloting was two-term state legislator, Frederico Pena. The youthful Hispanic's long-shot campaign caught fire in the last few weeks, surging ahead of Dale Tooley, who ran second. Because no candidate received a majority, there will be a run-off election between Pena and Tooley.

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The mayor's defeat did not come as a surprise. His traditional base of support, conservative Democrats and Republicans, had crumbled, partly because of a desire for new leadership and partly because of problems within his administration. The mayor's public safety manager and the police chief were implicated in a bingo skimming scandal. Then there was public anger over cleanup of a Christmas Eve blizzard, which took several weeks and cost several million dollars. The unseasonable spring snowstorm was an unexpected reminder of this episode.