Kwame Spearman, the CEO of the Tattered Cover and one of 17 mayoral aspirants, dropped out of the Denver mayor's race Thursday, his campaign confirmed.
Spearman also threw his support behind Kelly Brough.
“The city where I grew up, my home, has real challenges ahead,” Spearman said in a news release. “While I jumped in full throttle, it wasn’t enough to break through the crowded field. This is about what’s best for Denver, its neighborhoods and its residents. As the CEO of a small business, we need a leader who supports entrepreneurs and will work to ensure small businesses thrive in Denver."
Brough welcomed the endorsement.
"I did not expect that," Brough told The Denver Gazette. "Kwame's a small businessman, trying to make it in Denver today, and there's real challenges and I feel honored to have an endorsement that says this is not only somebody who could run the city but understands what small business owners need to be successful."
No official paperwork has been filed yet with the Denver Clerk & Recorder, according to a spokesperson.
Election officials began shipping out ballots to Denver voters this week. Spearman's name will still appear on the ballot, and votes for him will be considered "an undervote" — meaning not counted, according to the election official.
A poll commissioned by The Denver Gazette, 9News and Metro State University shows the race is completely up for grabs, with three candidates in a tie. Brough, Mike Johnston, and Lisa Calderòn each received the support of 5% of respondents, though this is just outside the poll’s margin of error.
Of those surveyed, 58% say they’re undecided.
All the other candidates, including Spearman, struggled to gain any notable support, according to the poll.
Spearman raised just under $219,000, according to the latest fundraising data from Denver.
Brough leads in the fundraising, hauling in more than $1.1 million.
When asked about his plans for the future, Spearman said he wasn't "looking for a job" should Brough win the mayor's office.
"Tattered Cover is, maybe the second best job in the City and County of Denver, and I endorsed Kelly without asking for anything," he said in an interview with the Denver Gazette. "And I think Kelly, smartly, has said, she's not going to think about appointments until she's in a position to appoint people."
Spearman said there were several candidates he considered endorsing, including Chris Hansen, Trinidad Rodriguez and Mike Johnston. He ultimately landed on Brough because he said they share a similar vision for Denver.
"I trust her to lead this great city forward,” he said. "I’ve had a front seat view in this race. I’ve listened to all the candidates, heard all their plans and seen first-hand how they would work on behalf of Denver residents. Kelly is the right person to lead the city through the next four years.”
Spearman said he also had to ask himself if he was the "solution or problem" in a field of 17 candidates. He pointed out that Denver has four very qualified women running for the mayor's office. If elected one of those women would be Denver's first, something Spearman weighed heavily.
In the field of 17, Spearman said if a candidate can't differentiate themselves enough while running against qualified people, the best thing to do is bow out to them.
"My general views on diversity is that when you have a pool of qualified applicants, the tie needs to go to the runner," he said. "We have four really qualified women who are running to become the first female mayor of Denver... And amongst those four, I think Kelly's my choice."