Heidi Klum’s Take on the San Diego Mayor’s Race

The Libertarian Lass, Gayle FalkenthalThe Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal 14 Comments


Do I know what will drive Rostra reader traffic, or what?

While Mrs. Seal hasn’t technically made any direct comment, her admonition to contestants on her reality show “Project Runway” applies nicely. As in fashion, in politics one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.

In a few short days on June 5 when fundraising can begin, all our speculation will be verified as to who’s actually in the race and who’s out. Those of us with additional speculating to do need to get cracking.

We know Councilmember Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and now State Senator Christine Kehoe are in. It’s all but certain Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is in. It’s looking good for Congressman Bob Filner.

I’ll go on the record saying I don’t think Councilmember Kevin Faulconer will run, and I think it’s a good decision for him not to get mixed up in this free-for-all.  Political handicapping aside, there’s a far more telling sign. Faulconer’s previous consultant in both of his city council races, Duane Dichiara of Revolvis, is working for Carl DeMaio, as is DeMaio campaign spokesman Stephen Puetz, a former Faulconer staff member who now works for Dichiara at Revolvis.

A source informed me that DeMaio wanted to work with Dichiara starting back in December, but Dichiara waited a few months before he signed on until he knew whether Faulconer was going to run before he committed to the DeMaio campaign. This signals to me that Faulconer is out of the mayor’s race.

Interesting side note: Dichiara used to be business partners with political consultant Jennifer Jacobs at Coronado Communications. This firm split up after the 2008 election when they lost every race except DeMaio’s council race, managed by Jacobs.

Faulconer would be smart to let his term run out, go back into the private sector with plenty of goodwill and networking connections in place from staying safely on the sidelines this time, and bide his time making a few (well-deserved) bucks before he makes his next political move. He’s got plenty of time to make another move, on the other side of what looks to be a messy fight over pension reform.

The mayor’s race has stolen attention from another contest that might end up being just as hotly contested. Supervisor Pam Slater-Price hasn’t yet declared her intention to run for another term. This isn’t really news. Slater-Price’s longtime consultant, the well-regarded Tom Shephard, signed on with candidate Steve Danon and this was regarded as a signal Slater-Price is bowing out.

With Slater-Price presumably out, several folks suddenly perceive an opening to challenge Danon, currently chief of staff to Congressman (and former Supervisor) Brian Bilbray. Danon also served as chief of staff to Supervisor Ron Roberts. He doesn’t have the greatest name ID outside the County Administration Building and places like Rostra. But he’s come out of the chute aggressively. His supporters showed up with huge campaign signs outside the biggest political event of the year, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Golden Fleece / Watchdog Awards dinner, as well as the San Diego County Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.

Shepherd will be a big asset but fundraising may be difficult for Danon. Not many will want to commit early on, waiting to see if there’s anyone more exciting coming to the party.  If Slater-Price plays coy until the last possible minute, it helps Danon by keeping other would-be candidates on the fence, perhaps until it’s too late to lock in consultants and set up a campaign structure.  One insider has speculated she might even step down and let the Board of Supervisors appoint a replacement. But this is risky with no guarantee of going her way. Her fellow Supervisors  have notoriously voted against her efforts over the years. They bailed out on her during the previous round of redistricting.  Slater-Price’s chief of staff, John Weil is a La Jolla resident. It’s not likely La Jolla will remain in the district after the lines are redrawn, so perhaps she might try to get Weil appointed before this happens, though she’d have to call in every favor she’s got to have a chance of making it happen.

Fletcher has hired Shepard as well. If past performance is any indication, Shepard’s candidates do very well in mayoral races. He’s three for four, (Roger Hedgecock, Susan Golding, and Jerry Sanders). His only loss: Danon’s former boss, Ron Roberts.

At least on “Project Runway,” the ousted competitors get kisses from Heidi and her signature cheery “Auf Wiedersehen!” No, I’m not volunteering.

Postscript: the recent ruckus over Carl DeMaio’s “illegal” campaign solicitations shows just how ugly the mayor’s race could get. Labor union interests pounced on processing of “acceptance” (though not processing) of a $5 donation a week before the legal fundraising period begins, and local news media was just as eager to pounce. That’s what I call a slo-o-o-w news day.  Union interests deeply fear DeMaio’s potential for winning and it’s increasingly obvious.

Speaking from experience, websites can mistakenly “go live” before you intend them to. I had this very same situation with one of my own clients several weeks ago due to a good old fashioned screw-up by our design firm. The client was furious. It was taken down the minute we realized it, but it had been up at least a day by then. It still needed proofreading, which we found embarrassing though it wouldn’t have triggered an investigation by anyone but the Grammar Police. Sometimes a mistake really is just a mistake, not a crime.


Comments 14

  1. This is a very good snap shot of the start of the horse race! Great job Gayle!

    I am not yet convinced we are going to see a ton of $$$ early to beat Carl up. Labor’s heart will tell them yes. But their head is going to ask themselves whether they really would have a great time of it with either Bonnie or Nathan – especially matched up against Kris “I voted for the really bad pension deal” Kehoe or Bob “I hit law enforcement agents and also siphoned campaign contributions to my ex wife” Filner. As noted last week, San Diegans LOVE boring and Nathan is precisely the kind of candidate who will do well. His biggest challenge in what will ABSOLUTELY be one of the ugliest general elections is the mailer that says “Nathan Fletcher – Duke Cunningham’s Chief of Staff” which I predict Labor drops about October 1. So labor is likely to play nice for a while. They will snipe on Carl. Try to get ammo for General but I doubt they spend much on negative before June unless, by some amazing alignment of stars, Filner/Kehoe could win outright.

    Oh yeah – only one gets in. What is going on right now is kabuki to see what the labor council decides – if it can decide – between the 2. I honestly guess is that locals would like to go with Bob but they are getting huge pressure from the state labor interests to stay out so as not to irritate the senator. Otherwise they would be endorsing today to try to keep the field clear.

  2. Post

    Thanks, Erik. To continue the discussion, Kehoe’s entry into the race is bad news for Bob Filner. Otherwise he gets all the Dem votes in the primary and heads for the general election without much effort, while the rest of the field split the Republican and many of the independent and DTS voters.

    Bonnie Dumanis is a sharp cookie and I believe her decision not to support the Comprehensive Pension Reform (CPR) Initiative is her bid to win the public labor unions and their fundraising power over to her camp. This may well work in the general election. If labor’s money talks, do we end up with a Dumanis/Filner runoff, which in Labor’s mind is a win-win situation?

    However it shakes out in the primary, I stand by my posts from January 18 and March 10 and see Bob Filner winning against whichever opponent he faces. I was right about Jerry Brown a year before he won. Filner’s track record is unassailable. He can point to experience in civic government as a San Diego City Councilmember, influence on the national level, his work for veterans and his youthful experience as a Freedom Rider.

  3. IF labor gets a friend as mayor while controlling 6-7 seats of the city council, this city will be doomed. We’ll mimic LA, which should be declaring bankruptcy before the year is out (LA should go BK soon, but they’ll want to wait until after the 2012 elections — the race to LA’s insolvency is on).

    SD will take longer to get to the BK stage, but with labor in control, there would be nothing to impede that outcome. While the unions’ politicians would control the city, they would NOT control the taxpayers. The Prop D defeat made it clear that when it comes to tax increases the city taxpayers’ wallet is closed for the indefinite future.

    For me, moving to nearby Poway is looking more and more attractive. As are less convenient Nevada and Texas.

    But in the meantime, let me be clear — I’m backing DeMaio for mayor. As I see it, he’s the ONLY real hope for turning around San Diego.

  4. So with Kehoe and Filner both seemingly moving forward, does that eliminate Scott Peters?

  5. When you have a really rich wife who will pay to get you of the house you might be able to come back from the dead. Especially if you can play the centrist Democrat in a race that has none.

  6. There is no room for a “centrist dem”. Bonnie and Nathan already occupy the center.

  7. “Not many will want to commit early”….for Danon means you haven’t checked out his website in awhile!! He just got Mayor Jim Desmond’s endorsement, which is added to a long list that includes DSA, Father Joe Carroll and many others. And anyone not jumping in now ….foolish as the primary is just a year away. This will be the race to watch!!

  8. Coastal Mama:

    The “not many will want to commit early” reference in regards to Danon was clearly about fundraising, not endorsements. As in: “…but fundraising may be difficult for Danon. Not many will want to commit early on…”

    There is often a huge difference between endorsements and fundraising. Check the Slater-Price warchest, in this case.

  9. For clarity’s sake, Slater-Price did file a Candidate Intention statement in January, technically, although that may not be the same as an announcement of “I am running.” Rostra had the news…

  10. Hi Thor asst:
    Fair enough….however, war chest is useless without a good campaign. She hasn’t had to run a campaign since she got in, and we have all watched many money people go down hard. Money just won’t shelter her from all the baggage she has……voted for the her own large pension spike, big car allowance when she wanted a raise without being honest about it, let alone the 26 FPPC violations that she plead guilty to 10 of them, then used campaign funds to pay them and the atty….. Just saying….this is a race

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