Council candidate says DeMaio pressured him to drop out

David Ogul David Ogul

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San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio tried to pressure 7th District City Council candidate Rik Hauptfeld into ditching his campaign in an apparent effort at improving fellow Republican Scott Sherman’s chances of winning the seat, Hauptfeld said today in an exclusive interview with San Diego Rostra.

DeMaio’s campaign manager, Ryan Clumpner, issued a statement denying the allegation.

“He met with Rik once, and was very clear that he was not asking him to drop out of the race,” Clumpner said.

That’s not how Hauptfeld remembers it. Hauptfeld, a Tierrasanta resident who is a registered Republican making his first run for public office, said he met with DeMaio about 10 a.m. on Jan. 13 at St. Tropez bakery and bistro in downtown San Diego. The conversation initially revolved around children and common interests. According to Hauptfeld’s account, DeMaio then suggested that Hauptfeld run for school board.

Hauptfield said DeMaio told him that “he would put the machinery behind me to get me on the school board, because they could use one of their guys on the board.”

Hauptfeld said he wasn’t interested. According to the City Council candidate, DeMaio then suggested giving Hauptfeld a political job in the 7th District. That offer, too, was declined.

Hauptfeld, who was reluctant to grant an interview, said he was floored by what came next.

“He talked about me being branded with a scarlet `S’ for ‘spoiler,’” Hauptfeld said. “He went on to say that they would make sure I never hold public office in San Diego” if his name appeared on the ballot.

The conversation ended a short time later. Hauptfeld later met with his all-volunteer staff to discuss the matter. “They said, `f—k him. We’re moving on with this.’”

“Our campaign is not going to stop. We’re not going to be intimidated by this. In fact, we’re encouraged by it…we’re not going to back down.”

Hauptfeld added that his family had fled an oppressive socialist government in Yugoslavia in 1973. “We came to the United States to escape that, to achieve freedom, to leave oppression and intimidation behind. Those kind of tactics have no place in our political system and we’re not willing to participate.”

Hauptfeld and Sherman are the only Republicans on the ballot, and some are concerned that Haupfeld will siphon enough votes from Sherman – who has the backing of the party establishment – to enable Democrat Mathew Kostrinsky to take the seat. Kostrinsky has long been involved in San Carlos and Del Cerro neighborhood issues and was critical in the raising of more than $300,000 for a new playground and other improvements at Lake Murray Community Park. A former Chamber of Commerce executive, Kostrinsky is a registered Democrat who once served as an aide to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Hauptfeld is confident that he will win the election.

Interestingly, the treasurer for both the DeMaio and Sherman campaigns is April Boling, who lost the 2008 District 7 election to City Councilwoman Marti Emerald. Many people believe that had some lesser conservative candidates not been on the June primary ballot, Boling would have won the seat without having to face Emerald in a runoff.

The 7th District has since been redrawn; Emerald is running to represent the new 9th District.

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