05/18/2011 10:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Denver Mayoral Runoff 2011: Pena Heckled At Romer News Conference

The Denver Mayoral Runoff between the last two standing Democratic candidates, Chris Romer and Michael Hancock, has remained relatively predictable until the last couple of weeks.

Yesterday afternoon Romer hosted what was supposed to be a light-hearted and benign news conference where former Mayor Federico Pena announced his endorsement of Romer. But, as CBSDenver reports, several hecklers in the crowd, including Kendra Sandoval -- a paid staffer on Hancock’s campaign -- crashed the conference and stirred it up.

Sandoval started in on Pena, accusing him of joining a “negative” campaign and asking him if he was going to engage in the “slanderous lies going on,” in reference to Romer’s controversial campaign ad that many later called out as, at least, partly deceptive.

Pena tried to keep his composure, answering the question by stating that the ad is factual and based on Hancock’s public record. But, Sandoval and the other hecklers continued to lob verbal bombs at both Pena and Romer which eventually lead to Pena putting a stop to the news conference altogether.

Sandoval’s father is a Paul Sandoval, a longtime Latino leader and former state Senator who is a vocal supporter of Hancock and has endorsed him publicly.

This fight started with Romer’s release of the ad that the Hancock campaign called “negative,” where Romer criticized Hancock for voting for a raise for himself as City Councilman while voting down raises for city workers in 2007 which The Denver Post's “Political Polygraph” stated that the ad “Leans Deceptive.”


Later that evening, after the “negative” ad had been released by the Romer campaign, The Denver Post reported that a debate that was largely about civil issues turned sour and both candidates began to exchange stronger words for one another.

Hancock was quoted:

Seeing that ad today, what he's been saying, I'm just tired of him getting his facts wrong. I actually have a lot of respect for Chris Romer, but I'm very scared of Chris Romer. I'm glad (former mayoral candidate) James Mejia has joined his campaign and brought some sense to it. . . . I think Chris plays games with the facts — they're fuzzy facts.

Then Romer fired back saying that Hancock was participating in “the politics of personal destruction [and that he] wants to resist those temptations...I’m going to stick to the issues.”

Romer even went on to state that he was “embarassed” by the Hancock campaign’s calling former mayoral candidates James Mejia and Theresa Spahn “losers” that joined Romer’s team.