DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) - A mayoral endorsement is typically a low-key news conference, but not on Tuesday when former Mayor Federico Pena announced he's backing Chris Romer in the runoff election.
Hecklers were determined not to let the news conference go smoothly. Among the rabble rousers was a paid staffer for Romer's opponent Michael Hancock.
Kendra Sandoval crashed the news conference and stirred things up when she accused Pena of joining a negative campaign. The question was in reference to a recent ad by Romer. It blasts Hancock over a vote he took in 2007 to raise the pay of city workers.
Sandoval asked Pena whether he would be a part of the "slanderous lies going on." Pena insisted the ad wasn't an attack.
"It's not personal. It has to do with one's position, while in public office, on a record vote on a very important issue facing the people of Denver, which has budgetary impacts for a city, which is into a $100 million shortfall," Pena said. "My view is that when you run ads based on facts and the record, it's factual."
But that didn't satisfy Sandoval and two other Hancock supporters who continued to press Pena and Romer. Pena ended up shutting the news conference down.
"I'm going to step in here; I'm going to step in here. Wait a minute, we're getting three questions from Michael Hancock's supporters … but this is a press conference," Pena said. "You want me to go to Michael's next press conference? I'm not, I'm not, because I don't do that. So let's take questions from the press please."
Sandoval is the daughter of longtime Latino activist Paul Sandoval. The Hancock campaign issued a statement saying she was at the presser on her own volition. Still, they acknowledge she is a paid organizer for Hancock, who has promised to run a positive campaign.
Ballots go out in three days.
CBS4's Shaun Boyd will moderate a debate with both candidates for mayor this weekend. It airs Saturday at 6 p.m. on CBS4.
for more features.