DENVER — The top two vote getters in the first round of Denver's mayoral election spent Wednesday trying to draw differences between each other, but managed to sound remarkably the same as they emphasized similar themes at separate events.

Former Colorado state Sen. Chris Romer and Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock, the apparent finalists for the June 7 runoff, sometimes even repeated the same phrases when speaking to reporters.

"I will hit the ground running on day one," Romer said, in explaining why he's the best candidate for mayor.

"I am the only candidate in this race prepared to hit the ground running on July the 18th," said Hancock, referring to the day the new mayor will be sworn in.

Romer, best known for making changes to Colorado's medical marijuana industry, finished first in Tuesday's election. Unofficial results show he got 28 percent of the vote. Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock finished second with 27 percent.

There will be a runoff since neither won 50 percent of the vote in the 10-way race.

Former school board member James Mejia finished with 26 percent, about 1,500 votes behind Hancock, but had yet to concede. His campaign did not return calls from The Associated Press to talk about their plans.

The mayoral office was vacated when former Mayor John Hickenlooper was elected governor.

Alton Dillard, a spokesman for the clerk and recorder's office, said election workers are still attempting to certify about 400 damaged ballots. Another 2,600 were rejected, sometimes because of missing signatures, and voters will get an opportunity in some cases to rectify their vote, Dillard said. But despite the number of outstanding ballots, Dillard said the final result is unlikely to change much.

Although Mejia has not conceded, Romer and Hancock, both Democrats, had declared victory and were hosting events Wednesday to talk about the runoff and plans for the city if they become the next mayor. Whoever is elected will have 60 days after inauguration to close a $100 million budget deficit for 2012.

Romer and Hancock both used phrases about the importance of the "private sector" in spurring job growth, and said the city would have to "do more" with less to close the budget deficit and that merging some departments would be necessary.

"We're going to have to ask people to do more," Hancock said.

Romer said city government must "fundamentally do more with less."

Both also said they promised to replace the police chief to fix the image of a department that was been tarnished by repeated allegations of police brutality.

Romer, a former investment banker, said that experience, along with his time in the Legislature and work with nonprofits makes him the best candidate.

"Of the three legs of the stool, I've got all three of them covered," said whose father, Roy Romer, was Colorado governor from 1987 to 1999. "I think I have a little more depth in each of those areas than Michael does."

Hancock said he has an advantage over Romer because of his eight years at the Denver City Council.

"Simply put, I don't need job training to become Denver's next mayor," Hancock said.

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Each pledged to be a tough leader willing to be honest and make difficult choices.

"It's great in government to try to make everybody happy and I understand the desire in City Hall to try to be all things to all people. I'm not that guy," Romer said.

"What the people generally want to hear," Hancock said, "is a mayor who's willing to be honest with them and stand up and say, 'We've got tough decisions.' I'm going to look you in the eye, I know you're not going to like what I have to say, but in order to make us all better going forward, I'm going to be honest with you.

The crowded campaign had 10 candidates and an unenthusiastic electorate voting in an all-mail election. Some 38 percent of Denver's 299,167 registered voters cast ballots.

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