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No on 300: A Win for Denver’s Small Businesses

No on 300 logoOnSight’s George Merritt played a key role in Denver’s successful effort to defeat what would have been the nation’s most severe paid sick leave mandate. Proponents touted polling at the outset showing as much as 65 percent of Denver voters supporting Initiative 300. Heading up communications for Keep Denver Competitive, the opposition campaign, George worked with local businesses as well as local elected officials to help voters understand I-300 was a poorly crafted initiative that targeted the smallest businesses in Denver.

It’s never easy to explain nuance through earned media, so George and the campaign sought out significant community stakeholders to help relay their message.

Small businesses line up to defeat 300In all, the measure was criticized by Gov. John Hickenlooper, small businesses and most of City Council. The Denver Post opposed the measure and chastised the proponents’ tactics. Mayor Michael Hancock not only opposed the measure, he was featured in this ad opposing 300 (the spot was produced by The Kenney Group).

The support of Mayor Hancock and others proved to be a big win for local shops and businesses in Denver. The measure failed with 64 percent of voters saying ‘No.’ The Post’s political blog “The Spot” called result a big win for the Mayor here:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock took a risk when he became the public face behind the effort to defeat Initiative 300, the Denver ballot measure that sought to provide paid sick leave for workers throughout the city.

Hancock’s predecessor John Hickenlooper had a virtually unblemished record of success in supporting winning ballot measures — including light rail, Referendum C, the preschool tax and Denver’s Better Bond Program.

Hancock cut a humorous/Hickenlooper-type television advertisement against the ballot initiative, which ultimately got drubbed at the polls on Tuesday with 64 percent of voters saying “no.”

“There is no overstating the role that he played in this campaign,” said George Merritt, spokesman for the opposition campaign, Keep Denver Competitive. “Small businesses are reticent to get involved in politics. To have a representative who could articulate the trouble and flaws of this initiative was critical.”