DENVER, JUNE 16 -- Federico Pena, the city's first Hispanic mayor, narrowly won reelection today over corporate attorney Don Bain in a runoff race marred by verbal jousts over both candidates' advertisements.
With all 496 precincts reported, Pena had 79,674 votes, or 51 percent, to Bain's 76,648 votes, or 49 percent.
Election commission officials said that voter turnout was about 53 percent, with 156,821 voters out of 291,559 eligible casting ballots.
Bain and his family voted at a polling booth at the Botanic Gardens about 8 a.m. and just about an hour later, Penåa voted at a fire station in northwest Denver.
Penåa finished 5 percentage points behind Bain in the May 19 primary, with 37 percent compared to Bain's 42 percent in a field of eight candidates. Immediately after the primary, polls showed Penåa trailing by as much as 20 percentage points. But on Monday, a news media poll showed him leading by 6 points.
Penåa aides said a big turnout in the nonpartisan election would help the Democratic incumbent defeat the Republican challenger. Democrats outnumber Republicans among the city's registered voters 46 to 26 percent.
Penåa's slogan when he was elected was: "Imagine a Great City." He still is working with that, since his major projects, a new airport and a convention center, have not begun construction.
Penåa said the city should not have to start all over now. But Bain pointed to the failure to start construction on either major project and said a change is needed.
Bain's critics have said he would bring legal baggage to the mayor's job because of his professional ties. He has worked for billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has proposed a convention center plan rivaling Penåa's. His law firm also handles cases for Martin Marietta and Continental Airlines, both of which have been embroiled in disputes with Denver.
But Bain counters his experience has given him the skills to negotiate tough deals. He is an experienced administrator, having been chairman since 1985 of the Auraria Higher Education Center, where 30,000 students attend Metropolitan State College, the University of Colorado at Denver and Community College of Denver.
Bain is among Denver's top corporate lawyers while Penåa is a former civil rights lawyer.