Bonnie Dumanis is running… for Mayor Jerry Sanders’ third term

Ryan Purdy Ryan Purdy 21 Comments


San Diego has a longstanding tradition of electing establishment Republicans, often with either military or law enforcement roots as its mayor. Before becoming U.S. Senator and California governor, former Marine Corps officer and Republican Pete Wilson was mayor of San Diego from 1971-1982. Wilson, a moderate to liberal on social issues, did limit the growth of the city’s budget, cut property taxes locally and helped revitalize downtown. However, he was against Prop 13 in 1978 (limiting California’s property tax and requiring a 2/3 majority for increases in state taxes) before he was for it. San Diego city workers opted out of Social Security in 1982 when then-Mayor Pete Wilson promised the city would provide taxpayer-funded health care for retired workers. This promise has played a significant role in increasing the city’s unfunded liability.

Following Wilson as San Diego mayor (1983-1985) was Republican Roger Hedgecock. He volunteered to work in Goldwater’s 1964 campaign and is now a solid conservative voice on talk radio.  In the intervening time, Hedgecock was known as a moderate Republican county supervisor and then moderate Republican mayor who decried the Los Angelization of San Diego. Democrat Maureen O’Connor broke the Republican mayoral spell when she served from 1985-1992.

Republican Susan Golding was mayor from 1992-2000.  She is a supporter of gay rights, affirmative action, an environmentalist, and pro-choice.  She also would have hardly been described as a deficit hawk/fiscal conservative.  She, Democrat City Manager Jack McGrory and the city council famously underfunded the pension system as part of their scheme to bring the 1996 Republican National Convention to the San Diego Convention Center.

Golding was followed by Republican and former Army officer Dick Murphy as mayor, 2000-2005. During his time, San Diego was memorably labeled “Enron by the Sea.” He was hardly a fiscal conservative either.  In fact, in a 2004 New York Times article Carl DeMaio, then of the San Diego Citizens Budget Project, persistently questioned the mayor and the city’s creative accounting schemes.  From the New York Times: Among the chief causes of the long-term instability of the city’s employee retirement fund was a pair of decisions in 2002 to add benefits for future retirees while reducing the city’s annual contribution to the funds. Among the most costly was a program called a deferred retirement option plan, or DROP, which allows a worker to defer retirement and build up a special account earning 8 percent interest and a 2 percent annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Murphy was followed by former Police Chief and current Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders. Mayor Sanders hasn’t managed to implement the managed competition for which voters voted.  He was a staunch supporter of Prop D, the failed .5 cent city sales tax increase proposition in 2010. He hasn’t brought about pension reform.  If and when he does, do you really think he will include Police and Fire in his pension reform scheme? I, for one, do not envision the former Police Chief doing so.

All this San Diego mayoral history brings us to yesterday, when establishment Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declared her candidacy for San Diego mayor.  She fits the formula: Establishment (cozy with Downtown folks). Republican. Law Enforcement (District Attorney). Not well-versed with city-wide fiscal matters, or at least has no plan (basically by her own admission).

Dumanis, who hired Democratic consultant Jennifer Tierney to head her campaign team, has a strong relationship with Mayor Sanders.  She said of his tenure:

“I think the current mayor has done a good job in bringing things forward,” she said. “I think there’s more to be done.”

Is Bonnie Dumanis simply running for Mayor Jerry Sanders third term?  She might actually even be part of a longer legacy of soft Republicans without a fiscal plan that spans decades in San Diego. There is ample evidence that her brand of “Republican”, the kind that hires a Democratic consultant and talks in platitudes about “consensus”, wins San Diego mayoral races.


Comments 21

  1. Do you really not know why Hedgecock left office, or are you trying to make an off-handed political point?

    Republican Hedgecock left office as the result of a criminal conviction. The conviction was later overturned.

    Hedgecock went on to a career as a well-known local radio talk show host.

    If you’re really not familiar with the history, fast forward about 20 years and you will find a more recent example.

    Democrat Michael Zucchet left office as a San Diego City Councilman as the result of a criminal conviction. The conviction was later overturned.

    Zucchet went on to a career as the general manager of the San Diego Municipal Employees Association.

    I thought that might help SD Rostra readers.

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  3. I like that she’s running only because I can’t wait for her opponents to take her to task for that cozy downtown relationship. As much can be said about those cases she didn’t prosecute as those she did. Paging Madigan and Nieto…

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  5. Bonnie Dumanis may be running for Mayor Sanders’ third term, but should he enter the race, Nathan Fletcher would be running for Pete Wilson’s fourth term.

    Carl DeMaio would be running in no one’s shadow. Is it time for a fresh approach?

    Special to Greg Larkin: Oh snap!

  6. If she receives Jerry Sanders’ endorsement, that will ensure I vote against her.

    The City needs a fiscal conservative who understand the nature and extent of the city $$ problems.

  7. Yuk! The more things change the more they stay the same. Only Murphy had enough sense to say,”I am in over my head, conscience and everything else.” Only Roger came out tested by fire and a better man for it.

  8. Excellent article.

    May I add that San Diego’s Republican city council members have also more often than not been fiscal spendthrifts, not to mention financial ignoramii. Prior to Carl DeMaio, the last true fiscal conservative we had was Bruce Henderson, who was able to hold office for only one term.

    During Wilson’s reign we had conservatives Fred Schnaubelt, Larry Stirling and Bill Mitchell. But sadly such fiscal hawks were the exception rather than the rule.

    EVERY GOP SD city council office holder from 1994 until DeMaio was elected voted for unwise spending, pension giveaways and /or tax increases.

    The good news is that the GOP today is not your fathers’ Republican Party. Tony Kvaric, T.J. Zane and other GOP leaders are much more fiscally prudent than previous Republican honchos.

    Yes, the RINO’s like Dumanis will still seek San Diego offices, but now the electorate is energized by the fiscal crisis left us by our previous bipartisan Big Spenders. GOP supporters of Prop D are less likely than usual to be successful in today’s campaign climate. At least let’s HOPE that such is the case.

  9. Bill Choister,
    Why wouldn’t you vote against her just because she is anti-gun and supported a gun ban? Isn’t that enough reason on its own?

    That is an honest question.

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    Gayle:I agree with you, Carl is not running in anyone’s shadow… and I’m all about a fresh approach! (from the fiscal conservative side that is)
    Bill: I can assure Bonnie Dumanis does not understand the gravity of the city’s money problems. She admits it in the great piece Liam Dillon did on her. I linked to it in the article.
    Michael: Great question. My answer is yes.

  11. Michael, many thanks for the reminder of the Dumanis support for gun bans. THAT needs wider dissemination. Anyone have a couple convenient URL’s we can reference on this matter?

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    Mole: I agree that it’s scary how little SD voter proclivities have changed in 40 years, especially for a city with something of a center-right orientation.
    Richard Rider: Thanks for your additions to SD political history. Helpful indeed.

  13. The case was Heller vs. D.C. and it happened because Dick Heller could not own a gun in the city of Washington D.C. Washington D.C. had a TOTAL GUN BAN in place for years until it was struck down when the Supreme Court re-affirmed that the Second Amendment is an individual right. Not long after the Supreme Court ruled that the Heller decision also applies against all 50 states and not just the federal government. (McDonald v. Chicago)

    Ms. Dumanis signed on to an opinion paper (or amicus brief) that supported keeping the TOTAL GUN BAN in place.

    A mention on her Wikipedia page:

    The actual amicus brief:

    A story abut the brief and showing who else was in agreement with Dumanis on keeping the gun ban in place (including Kamala Harris):

  14. Thanks for putting the issues out on the table. She needs to be asked some pointed questions. There may be little the mayor could do to affect gun rights, but it would always be better to have an advocate than an adversary. One would think her position as County DA could have a more adverse affect. Other than her issues on Heller, is there anything she has done in capacity as DA , such as over zealous prosecution of righteous shootings, that would red flag her on the issue.
    Her stand on Heller was probably a political one to garner support from her “people”. That is probably worse than having convictions and standing by them. Gun rights on the political chopping block…again. She has some explaining to do regarding the issue and that in an open forum.

  15. I’m curious — has there EVER been a San Diego police shooting (where the police do the shooting) that was NOT deemed a “righteous shooting”? (IE: no charges filed) If so, could those who know such things provide more detail on such an incident?

    In a related vein, how many (the total) “righteous shootings” have we had in the county? The longer the time frame, the better.

  16. Has there EVER been a time when Mr. Rider missed a chance to take a Cheap Shot at the Police? When does he come clean and explain this deep-seated anger at the Men and Women of Law Enforcement ? Can someone give a count on the number of San Diego Cops who were shot down in Cold Blood by criminals? Maybe some of those were Righteous to Mr. Rider’s mind.

  17. Doc, as you know CA’s concealed weapon laws are a disaster. So I looked to see where Dumanis was with the “open carry” issue. I am still unclear.

    You are right that cities typically don’t make gun laws, but my fear is another anti-gun mayor from a big city to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Which is a huge anti-gun rights group. They would love to have a San Diego mayor join there ranks to help them do more damage to your Second Amendment rights.

    Also, mayors go on to become members of congress, governors, etc. Nip it in the bud now or we risk facing an anti-gun running for a position where they can do real damage.

  18. My, my — a remarkably vituperative response. Much gnashing of teeth, but devoid of content.

    So, a rational discussion of police “righteous shootings” is not possible for my anonymous friend. What he is inferring is that when a police officer shoots someone, it is BY DEFINITION a “righteous shooting.”

    Because, you see, police work is dangerous, so cops should be able to unilaterally decide who to shoot and when. Shooting review is not acceptable — unless it’s a rubber stamp “atta-boy” review.

    It is possible that my friend is so mad because there has NEVER been a SD police shooting deemed wrongful? Did I hit a nerve with my question?

    ZERO prosecutions would be hard to believe — SURELY some such shootings have been subject to critical review and prosecution — though only a small fraction of such shootings should merit such a response. After all, cops are human beings.

    And yes, we SHOULD have a list of shot down cops, and firefighters who died on the job — if only to show that this death rate is MUCH lower than most people suppose.

    BTW, as I recall, the last firefighter to die in San Diego on the job was a fellow who was tragically struck by a vehicle at a car accident where he was assisting — in (I believe) the year Prop 13 passed — 1978.

    The odd thing is that my friend is perfectly willing to discuss Dumanis’ possible “over zealous” prosecutions of police shootings, but not the absence of ANY such prosecutions.

  19. Actually Michael, cities DO make gun laws. Gun bans or semi-bans are found on the city level. Chicago and sorta-city D.C. readily come to mind.

    As I recall, in the city of San Diego, one cannot own an “assault rifle.” But I suspect you can in several other cities in the county.

    And yes, city politicians can and too often DO lobby for more gun control laws — using taxpayer money in their efforts. Obviously the mayor has considerable say in such matters — plus the bully pulpit.

  20. No, you are right Richard. Cities make gun laws. I didn’t mean to imply they do not. San Diego does have an “assault” weapon ban, but does not enforce it. The trend in California has been state preemption over local municipalities when it comes to gun laws. But there are laws involving firearms on the city and county level. I was in no way trying to down-play the ability of a mayor to take away your gun rights.

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