Killer Candidate

Would-be legislator Dan Coleman wants to talk issues. But his past is just so much more interesting

And while even Coleman's staunchest supporters take pains to acknowledge the family's anguish, Coleman himself won't go there. He calls Jerry Chalker a "bitter old man."

His attitude seems far too strident. After all, he's not talking about some showdown at the O.K. Corral, some outlaw who needed to be faced down.

Even though Annette Chalker was drunk, even if she was belligerent, she was his girlfriend's sister, a single mother, another man's fiancée.

It's clear just from her sister Gail's statement how devastating her death has been to the people who loved her.

Coleman's refusal to acknowledge her loss doesn't just seem like bad politics. It seems heartless.

But the closest he comes to expressing remorse is a statement that's more defiant than apologetic.

"I don't think this hurts my reputation," Coleman says. "I don't think the events of three years ago — I don't think I did anything that anyone would be ashamed of."

He doesn't pause before charging into the next thought.

"Do I regret what happened? Yes. Do I wish I'd done things differently? Yes. Am I going to hide my head in the sand? No."

Talking to him, one thing is clear: It doesn't matter what his critics say. Dan Coleman has made his peace with his actions.

Win or lose this November, that's not going to change.

"A drunken, belligerent person breaks into your house at 1 a.m. — and attacks you and your family — what do you do?" he asks, then answers his own question.

"I'm going to act to protect my family every time."

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