Trial by Ire

The candidates in the Denver's DA's race refuse to come to order.

Whether Danley will indeed prove to be Ritter's Willie Horton--the murderer paroled by Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis and turned into a campaign poster boy by George Bush--will be left to Denver voters. But the strident ad, which includes the cartoon-like placement of a graduation mortarboard atop the shaggy Danley's mug shot, has set the tone for the rest of the campaign. A KOA radio debate held the day after the ad started running was Ritter's and Silverman's most bellicose moment yet, with the two trading barbs so heatedly that Silverman was prompted to comment it was a good thing both of them favor gun control.

The Danley ad is just the first in a series of final-stretch gambits planned by Silverman. Last week he held a press conference--dubbed "The October Surprise" by his campaign manager--to assert that the Drug Court routinely allows people convicted of drunk driving to hold on to their driver's licenses. "I'll tell you what's negative," Silverman says when asked whether his relentless style may backfire. "What's negative is Ernie Encinas being stabbed in the back for being associated with someone who broke a window."

The Ritter camp is hoping that Silverman's high-pressure approach will eventually wear thin with voters. But either way, the district attorney and his former chief deputy are stuck with each other until November 5. Silverman, it seems, simply doesn't have it in him to back down. And it's a trait he comes by honestly.

Three years ago, after Silverman failed to make the final cut in Romer's search for someone to replace the departing Early, his father, Sheldon Silverman, was incensed. The veteran real estate attorney could have suffered in silence, as did the parents of the other failed candidates. But keeping quiet isn't his style. Instead, the longtime Denver attorney filed into the audience when Romer showed up to speak at a local synagogue and, rising from his seat midway through the event, proceeded to make a scene. Raising his voice in anger, the elder Silverman accused the state's top political figure of favoritism. In effect, he suggested that his boy had been robbed. "I blew my top," he says now, adding that he later apologized to the governor.

Sheldon Silverman recalls advising his son to stay cool when he learned Craig planned to run for DA. The elder Silverman pauses before adding, "But you're not going to stop Craig. He'll do what he wants.

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