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.