COVER STORY: Magic mushrooms
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Psilocybin mushrooms are seen in a grow room at the Procare farm in Hazerswoude, Netherlands, in a 2007 file photo. (Peter Dejong, Associated Press)

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DENVER • Mayor Michael Hancock is headed for a runoff election with challenger Jamie Giellis, and voters Tuesday rejected ballot initiatives that would have decriminalized the use of "magic mushrooms" and allowed camping on public property.

Unofficial results at 8:30 p.m., 90 minutes after polls closed, showed Hancock with nearly 40% of the vote, short of the 50% plus one vote needed to avoid the June 4 runoff.

Giellis, a former president of the River North Arts District, got the most votes among challengers, with nearly 27%.

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Initiative 301, which would decriminalized the use of psilocybin mushrooms, appeared to have faltered by a 9 percentage point margin in partial returns.

Initiative 300, aimed to repeal Denver's urban camping ban, was going down to defeat, with the "no" vote leading by better than 5-1.

Both one-of-a-kind measures were being watched across the country.

When he took the stage at his election watch party at the EXDO Event Center, Hancock called for a moment of silence for the student killed during the Tuesday shootings at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

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Then he noted that former Denver Mayors Federico Peña and Wellington Webb had rallied to win run-off elections.

"And so now it looks like we’ve got another month to tell the story, and that’s OK," Hancock said. "I don’t want you to be disappointed. I don’t want you to be surprised. Because it’s simply the way it works out with the number of candidates we had in this race.

“Folks, it’s time to do this. Now this campaign is one on one. Let’s do this. Let’s rise up,” he said, lapsing into the cadence of a preacher. “We don’t quit. We won tonight. And come June 4, we’re going to win again."

At the Giellis election watch party at the nearby Ramble Hotel, the candidate welcomed the results.

“I’m so proud of the campaign we’ve run,” she said. “The diversity of the people here is beyond words. The number of people who have stepped up to fight this fight is incredible.

“Anything can happen on election night,” she added with a smile and a shrug.

Unofficial results showed Lisa Calderón in third place, with nearly 16% of the vote; Penfield Tate placed fourth, with nearly 15%, and Kalyn Rose Heffernan trailed with a distant 2%.

Election results will be finalized Wednesday.

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