Columbo (1971–2003)
17 user 4 critic

Candidate for Crime 

Senatorial candidate Nelson Hayward murders his domineering campaign manager, staging it to appear that Hayward himself was the intended victim of a mob hit gone wrong.



(teleplay by) (as Irving Pearlberg), (teleplay by) | 5 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Johnson
Sgt. Vernon
Jay Varela ...
Sgt. Rojas
Jude Farese ...
Highway Patrolman
TV Anchor Man
Angelo Grisanti ...
1st Detective


Nelson Hayward is running for the senate as a man tough on crime. His dictatorial campaign manager, Harry Stone, orders the candidate dump his mistress, backing up his demand with threats to expose the politician's shady past. Stone little guesses that his own publicity-minded lie about anonymous killers threatening the politician's life will lead Hayward to murder him and blame it on the invented assailants. Hayward sets up a tricky alibi for himself around a surprise birthday party for his wife. No one suspects the clever deception except that annoyingly observant Italian-American cop in the rumpled raincoat - the redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin / revised by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 November 1973 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


French title : "Candidat au crime". See more »


No one found bits of paper from the squib that Hayward used to simulate gunfire. Additionally, the so-called squib appeared to be & sounded like nothing more than a small firecracker, hardly enough to fool people into believing a gun was fired. See more »


Lt. Columbo: You know, isn't it funny the way people react under the stress of a situation?
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Referenced in Columbo: Publish or Perish (1974) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional children's song hummed by Jackie Cooper before TV commercial.
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User Reviews

Super Tuesday
4 March 2016 | by See all my reviews

It was only a coincidence that I watched this great episode on the same night as Super Tuesday, when politicians won or lost crucial states for the big upcoming election. Anyway, Jackie Cooper is excellent as the ambitious Nelson Hayward, who's running for office, and is as cocky as they come. Some of the other familiar faces include Ken Swofford(equally solid), Joanne Linville, Tisha Sterling, and Vito Scotti; pay close attention and you may also recognize Sandy Kenyon, whom I remember from a few All in the Family episodes. Other than a rather silly murder motive, add in another silly moment using firecrackers, and the fact that Hayward himself commits the crime, rather than hire someone else to do it, this is still a pretty entertaining episode, especially Cooper's smug portrayal. Something else I enjoy is the many outdoor scenes, instead of inside the typical boring mansion many stories revolve around. We get to see Hayward's swimming pool, a gas station where Columbo's getting his car fixed, and a funny scene where Columbo gets fitted for a suit. All in all, this is a mostly entertaining episode worth seeing.

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