Kelly Brough election night (copy)

Candidate Kelly Brough signs a heart to the crowd after speaking during her watch party at Reelworks Denver in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, April, 4, 2023. Brough will face former state legislator Mike Johnston and recently secured the endorsement of two leaders in Colorado's Democratic Party. (Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Gazette)

Former Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio and Vice Chair Beverly Benavidez-Ryken endorsed Kelly Brough in the race for mayor on Monday.

Palacio was the first openly gay Democrat and first Latino to serve as chair of the Colorado Democratic Party. He also served as Gov. Jared Polis's interim chief of staff. 

"Denver needs a mayor that we can trust to have the courage to be honest about the challenges we face and has the skills to solve the city’s biggest problems on day one," Palacio said. "Kelly is that leader. She has the values, the vision and the grit to lead the city into a progressive future."

Brough faces Mike Johnston, a former legislator, in the runoff election in June.

“I’m grateful to have the support of these two trailblazing Democratic leaders,” said Kelly Brough. “I will continue to honor their endorsement by creating an inclusive administration that reflects the city of Denver. We are building a big coalition because it’s going to take all of us to address Denver’s biggest challenges.” 

Palacio and Benavidez-Ryken have so far been the only Latino leadership team to run the state's Democratic Party.

Brough will stand up for both reproductive healthcare and LGBTQ rights at a time when both are threatened at the national level, Benavidez-Ryken said. 

In Colorado, abortion rights have been enshrined in the statutes. Gov. Jared Polis also signed into law a slew of proposals that protects patients and providers of abortion and "gender-affirming" care in Colorado from penalties from other states; expands health insurance coverage for abortion, sterilization and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases; and prohibits deceptive advertising and the use of abortion "reversal" pills in crisis pregnancy centers.

“Kelly knows this city inside and out,” Benavidez-Ryken said. "We worked together at the city and she’s a trusted, compassionate leader who has experience building diverse coalitions to get things done."

The announcement came hours after Rep. Leslie Herod endorsed Mike Johnston. 

Brough also secured the endorsement of Wellington and Wilma Webb, who had previously endorsed Herod.

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