Pyeongchang Olympics (copy)

Olympic rings are covered with fresh snow at the Phoenix Snow Park as preparations continue for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A measure to require Denver voters’ approval before the city could spend public money on a bid to host the Olympic Games sailed to an early lead Tuesday night in the city’s runoff election.

Initiative 302 — “Let Denver Vote” — was leading 79.2% to 20.8% in early results. And that was good enough for the measure’s backers, who claimed victory at 7:24 p.m.

“The people of Denver have spoken loudly, clearly, and with near unanimity,” campaign spokesman Owen Perkins said in a statement. “This is an incredible testament to the power of a grassroots movement to triumph over the forces of big money and entrenched special interests.

“The victory highlights a trend among Denver voters to demand accountability from their elected officials and a willingness to pursue citizen-initiated solutions when those elected officials are unresponsive to the will of the people.”

The effort to place the question on the ballot sprang from meetings in February 2018, when U.S. Olympics Committee members met with state and Denver officials to discuss a possible Winter Olympics bid in 2030 or later. Those talks did not lead to any commitment by Denver or Colorado.

Instead, the Colorado Springs-based USOC last December chose Salt Lake City over Denver or Reno “to represent the United States in a potential 2030 bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

The bidding for the 2030 Games is expected to begin in 2021, with a host city announced two years later.

A U.S. city is not in contention for the 2026 Winter Games.

Perkins said Initiative 302 is not pegged to any specific Olympic bid, but it had the support of former Gov. Dick Lamm, who led the movement to reject having the 1976 Olympics in Colorado.

Arguments against the measure posted by the Denver Elections Division say 302 is “dangerously broad [and] has extensive unintended consequences.”

Under the measure, the “anti” arguments say, “private organizations whose entire reason for being is to promote and encourage events and business developments in Denver would be unable to even address the issue of an Olympic bid [without a public vote]. Without interaction of government and government groups there can be no bid, even one entirely privately financed.”

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