TimOBrienDenver City Council member and former liberal think tank leader Chris Nevitt thought he would coast into his next government job as city auditor last night, instead he stepped into a buzz saw leaving liberal mouths agape.

Running against a candidate who has never stood for election, combined with the support of a popular mayor, the Denver Post endorsement, and a campaign war chest almost five times that of his opponent’s, we could hardly blame Nevitt for his confidence heading into the election.

Except there was one problem:  Nevitt was completely unqualified, and his opponent, Tim O’Brien, was enormously qualified person to ever run for Denver City Auditor.  The differences between the two men and their qualifications for the office could not have been more stark.

O’Brien, a career CPA with thousands of hours of audit experience and the former Colorado state auditor who led a professional audit staff for 11 years, positioned himself as an experienced candidate who could lead the Denver Auditor’s office with the appropriate level of professionalism and independence that Nevitt, a former community organizer, simply could not deliver.

While Nevitt relied on fundraisers, establishment support, and the public backing of high-profile elected officials, O’Brien simply ran a bootstrapped campaign where he explained his qualifications and differences between he and Nevitt to any voter who would listen.

And it is was refreshing to see a well-qualified candidate defeat a well-connected but unqualified candidate.

While Mayor Michael Hancock strongly endorsed Nevitt (is it even appropriate for the sitting mayor to endorse a candidate who will be auditing his administration?), Denver voters had the more prudent view that it may not be a wise decision to send a city councilman down the hall to start auditing the policies that he and his buddies on council had just implemented.

As far as Nevitt’s next government paycheck, we’re pretty sure his friend the mayor will help find a consolation prize in a few weeks’ time.