Mayor’s Race Takes Me Back to 7th Grade

Tony ManolatosTony Manolatos 6 Comments


Politics & Media Mashup

We’re 10 days out from Election Day and here is what we know about the San Diego mayoral race:

  • Carl DeMaio is in.
  • The second spot looks like it’s going to go down to the wire. Bob Filner is carrying a slight edge over Nathan Fletcher.
  • Trailing behind is Bonnie Dumanis, but she’s not going down without a fight.

Two separate sources I trust told me this week some of the latest polling numbers show DeMaio in the high 20s/low 30s; Filner in the low 20s and Fletcher in the high teens.

I think Fletcher peaked a couple weeks ago, and the attack ads from the far left and far right – to borrow a phrase from Team Fletcher – are influencing some voters.

DeMaio’s base – conservatives who tend to vote in primaries – aren’t moving. If Fletcher moves on after June 5 it’s because he successfully pulled from the middle and the left.

DeMaio has run the best campaign. Does that surprise anyone? He’s been planning this for years and he works harder than any politician I know. Anything can happen, of course, but I don’t see him losing the lead down the home stretch.

“DeMaio is so slick even some of my lefty friends plan to vote for him,” a local media guy told me yesterday.

Fletcher likes to call DeMaio the most divisive figure at City Hall, and it’s no secret he burns too bright for some people, but a lot of people see DeMaio as someone with good ideas who is a fiscal hawk and anti-establishment.

Mayor Jerry Sanders is not one of those people. The mayor, who is backing Dumanis but has been relatively silent in this race, ticked off a couple Genuine Jerry one liners about DeMaio at a press conference this week that Team Fletcher quickly rolled into a 30-second TV ad. I’m waiting for the t-shirts.

If Filner had run any sort of campaign would we even be talking about Fletcher? Filner thought he would have the second spot sewed up because he is the only Democrat running in the race. So he sat back and watched his three opponents campaign. That worked until Fletcher dumped the Republican Party and went indie.

Several longtime local politicos told me a year or so ago that Filner would match DeMaio’s tenaciousness on the campaign trail. I’m still waiting for that.

I haven’t watched a ton of debate footage but what I have seen has left me with the following impressions:

  • DeMaio looks and sounds mayoral and his points are appealing.
  • Dumanis has trouble matching the energy and charisma of DeMaio and Fletcher, but she sounds strong lately.
  • Fletcher looks and sounds like someone a majority of San Diegans can support.

For a variety of reasons, including the fact that I have friends working for three of the four mayoral candidates, I haven’t supported anyone in this race, but it sure has been fun to watch.

I’ve enjoyed discussing the race with people outside the bubble – just about everyone in San Diego.

Among those people I’ve seen a lot of support for DeMaio and Fletcher, but most of my friends know next to nothing about any of the candidates.

These conversations always take me back to the 7th grade. Art class, I think. We were voting for student council. My first political experience.

In the week or so leading up to the vote, signs were made, speeches were given, campaigns were waged.

In the end, none of it mattered. The favorite – the kid with the good looks and an army of friends – won.

On June 5, some San Diegans will vote for the candidate who they believe will best serve the city. Many more will just vote for the one they like.


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Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Monday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.

Comments 6

  1. Great analysis, Tony. Takes me back to my first political experience, as “campaign manager” for John Perri, vying for class president at Dexter Junior High School in Whitter, CA. We had posters with awesomeness like “Don’t yawn, vote for John.” (No, for the record, I never used “Give Jantz a chance” when running for city council years later.)

    But, in a moment of brilliance, my friend John locked it up with a now epic move. At the school assembly to hear the candidates, he was the last of the three pres contenders to address the students. He went to the podium and said, “Will you all please rise.” Everyone in the auditorium was a bit confused, but not knowing if this was an “official” part of the assembly, they followed the direction and stood up.

    John then said, “Ok, you can sit down now.” Murmurs ensued, as hundreds of students returned to their seats.

    “Now that you’ve seen my leadership abilities, you know that I’ll make a great president,” John said.

    The place erupted.

  2. Post
  3. We are calling on all Mayoral candidates including Congressman Bob Filner (Federal), Assemblyman Fletcher (State), Dumanis (County), and Councilman DeMaio (City) to solve our Veterans Homelessness problem this Memorial Day weekend through bi-partisan cooperation and leadership.

    Congressman Bob Filner knows how to bring new streams of Federal funding into San Diego. Including the new GI Bill so returning Veterans can go to college, and VASH vouchers to end Veterans Homelessness nation-wide by 2015.

    The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs) and community-based outreach clinics.

  4. What was interesting about today’s AP mayoral race story is that it cited a poll released May 5 showing a tight three-way race, but didn’t mention one released May 14 showing DeMaio pulling ahead.

    Here’s what the U-T’s May 5 story about the poll said:

    “DeMaio, a Republican, leads the way with 22 percent while Democratic Rep. Bob Filner and Fletcher, an independent, are neck-and-neck for second place with 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is a distant fourth at 8 percent.”

    And here’s what the May 14 story said:
    “The SurveyUSA poll, paid for by KGTV/Channel 10, has DeMaio ahead with 31 percent of likely voters selecting him while Filner and Fletcher are tied for second with 21 percent each. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is fourth with 13 percent. Fourteen percent chose other or were undecided.

  5. In 2010 the UT didn’t believe in “weighting” for expected turnout. So I would put a HUGE grain of salt in the May 5th poll. It is why they got the 1/2 cent city sales tax SO wrong – you gotta project that young indies, in the end, don’t show up at the polls.

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