DARK HORSE

A VETERAN OF NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNS MAKES A RUN AT CITY HALL.

The election isn't until May 2, but according to consultant Welchert, "Money is the first primary. Whoever's second in money can make a case that he or she's a strong candidate. Of course, Webb was third or fourth in money and look what happened."

And Webb no longer is underfinanced. After he was elected, the money started rolling in--from lawyers and bankers, from fundraisers in Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C. As of last June 30 Webb's campaign coffers held a balance of $180,000, whereas Crider had $45,500 and DeGroot $7,700. Webb also has captured big-time support from the powerful lawyers at Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber & Strickland--which supported Norm Early four years ago--and from such business moguls as cable pioneer and millionaire Bill Daniels.

Albin acknowledges that Webb, although awash in DIA woes, "has been a trooper" and says that many potential contributors are waiting to see whether Webb really can be beaten before they commit to someone else. And that may take a while. If DIA actually opens on February 28, and if there aren't major catastrophes involving the baggage system, and if...

"There's a `wave thing' in this campaign," says Frew. "It's going to be a different world before and after February 28. There might be indictments or lawsuits. A lot of people are hanging back. It's the nature of people to want to back winners."

And Frew thinks DIA isn't his only winning issue. "Some people say if the airport opens and functions flawlessly--and I hope it opens tomorrow--then Webb'll be okay," says Frew. "And my answer to that is, `Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?' There's been such a focus on the airport that they've taken their eye off the ball on so many other projects."

It's difficult to tell just what vision Frew has for Denver. But he sure gets irked at some things that block his view.

"I think the amount of graffiti that we see is a sign of losing control and that it scares people, whether you live in Denver or not," he says. "A lot of people don't want to come downtown because it intimidates them. It should. It's ugly, it's scary, it begins to look like Los Angeles. I think what the mayor has to do is first of all take a zero-tolerance attitude toward issues like graffiti."

He criticizes Webb for letting development slip away to the suburbs and for failing to step into the Denver Public Schools' teachers' strike last fall.

"Why did it take the governor to call those two sides in to solve the strike? Where was the mayor?" asks Frew. "It's a question of attitude. It is the mayor's business. If it moves, if it breathes, if it in any way affects Denver, it is the mayor's business. I don't care if it's the federal government, the state government, a special district or a school district. And he ought to be in their face if they're doing something that is so egregiously wrong that it's causing people not to want to come to Denver."

Frew says he's also upset about the millions of dollars Denver has spent on outside legal help. "All that monkey business stops," he says. "They'll say, `You're a lawyer. Can we trust you?' I'll say, `Listen, I know how lawyers work. And there'll be none of that.'"

Frew proposes to abolish the job of manager of public safety and promote the chiefs of fire and police to cabinet status. And he vows to emphasize redevelopment of the vacant or eventually-to-be-vacant parcels at Lowry Air Force Base and Stapleton.

"They're building homes by the thousands in Douglas County--on well water. It's absurd," Frew says. "What we have to do is, we have to change our attitude, our way of doing business. And the mayor leads the charge on that...We have so much land available--Lowry, Stapleton--where those people ought to be building their homes. And that brings more of the middle class back. That stabilizes the tax base, that brings jobs and opportunities back into Denver. People ask me, will I widen Colorado Boulevard and Parker Road and Santa Fe?, and I say, `Not on your life, because I don't want to make it any easier for you to get in in the morning and out at night.' That's the challenge."

Frew says he's confident that voters "will see that I'm in this to change the way the city does business."

Mike Boyd, however, says it's just with whom the city does business. Glumly, the airport cynic consigns Webb, Crider and DeGroot to the "within-the-system" category. But he reserves a special place for Frew.

"Frew's bunch laid the groundwork for DIA," Boyd says. "He's probably more to blame than Webb is. If it weren't in place, Webb wouldn't have done it. Now, all the common guy can decide is which sleazeball to vote for.

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