San Diego’s Mayor Race Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Erica Holloway Erica Holloway 8 Comments


Originally posted on the Flash Report.

The 2012 San Diego mayor’s race began like other love affairs – lots of hope and promise for the future. Then, the sparkle and shine of courtship faded quickly into the same old dull routine.

No more flowers. No more moonlight and love songs.

Seems I’m not the only one who noticed our romance is fading.

Even the candidates can’t muster the enthusiasm. Both Councilman Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis skipped a second, high-profile debate last week and the fall out has been notable.

One Rostra blogger called the no-show candidates “disappointing” while a San Diego Union-Tribune columnist floated the sweat-inducing idea of forcing all the candidates to participate in at least one debate.

[I witnessed what came close recently with all the D-List candidates spewing some of the most incoherent nonsense since Keith Richards got sober (kinda).]

Debate preparation weighs the need to communicate with fans versus pressing your luck in shark-infested waters.

Some campaigns require more dangerous swimming than others and I can think of no other office in the San Diego region that deals with more high-profile crisis than the mayor.

Excuses: DeMaio skipped because labor interests hosted the latest debate, and Dumanis skipped because she’s waiting until the filing deadline passes.

Whatever the reasons, I understand the desire for caution but running for mayor is just about the most rash course of action one might take.

It’s foolish to believe you can control as many factors as those one deals with in the mayoral fishbowl.

Everything from catastrophic wildfires to fiscal meltdowns to large-scale political nightmares – the mayor of San Diego deals with it all from all sides.

The same people who love you today hate you tomorrow.

These debates will rarely offer glimpses of “new” information. Debates retread platforms and those platforms, if genuine, will alter little between appearances. But what will change is the venue, the crowd, the host, and the moderator which offers a glimpse of the candidates under the white hot lights dealing with nerves, conflict and pressure.

Imagine telling a hiring committee you’re begging off on the interview because you aren’t feeling judge No. 3 – but you’d still like the job.

Debate after debate, what becomes evident is style and that separates the good-on-paper candidates from the real deals.

Perhaps we need to downgrade this relationship back down to “its complicated” and give it a few more rounds of dating.

No need to set a date just yet.

– Follow me @erica_holloway.


Comments 8

  1. Au contraire, my dear friend. Rather than just pitifully accept the bogus excuses made by crafty Carl and dirty Dumanis, perhaps the bloggers such as yourself should put more pressure on these sneaky Mayoral hiders.

    Nathan Fletcher is winning lots of fans in the community by his availability and eagerness to attend these forums so far. Especially ones full of pro-Labor types who could easily crucify him as a Republican. DeMaio and Dumanis think they are being slick by trying to maneuver around these early debates, but it is making them look bad and their unwillingness to outreach to the voters will not hold them in good stead when the voters finally get around to making their Mayoral decision next year.

  2. No one is required to walk into an Ambush.

    If the District Attorney and Councilman DeMaio
    concluded that a forum ‘Moderated’ by the SD
    Labor Council’s leader * Ms. Lorena Gonzalez*
    was inherently unfair…. they had every right to

    They are running for SD Mayor, not for a seat
    on the Labor Council’s board of directors.

    The Union-Tribune story which names Ms.
    Gonzalez as a Moderator can be found at
    this link:

  3. What do mean “Its Complicated?” With the advent of virtual Carl, real Carl now has a soulmate!

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    I appreciate your suggestion that as a blogger, these candidates would care about my opinion. However, they pay staff for campaign advice on strategy and seem to have those needs covered.

    That being said, we’ll see how much mileage participants versus non-participants get when new polling surfaces.



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  7. I think Mr. Morton is saying that in Carl’s eyes, his sim is his only equal and the two of them could live happily ever after.

    On a serious note. Skipping debates isn’t a bad tactic when its a two person race. Without you, the debate is nothing and you have nothing to lose. Chose your one or two debates and go for it. However, with Filner and Fletcher both participating, the debates will continue to generate media with an increasing spotlight on the absent candidates (where’s waldo themed mail anyone?).

    Two messages I have heard circulating in political circles: Bonnie doesn’t have the heart or drive to really get involved yet (scary considering the magnitude of this fight) and Carl, the self proclaimed super heavyweight debater of San Diego, is afraid to get in the ring with Fletcher.

    Just because candidates get to choose their own debates, doesn’t mean they get to choose the message it sends.

    In my opinion, if you want to be Mayor of San Diego, you better learn to face your toughest critics on their turf.

  8. Post

    Dear Chevy Sam:

    I have no personal “Sim” experience, but I believe I understand your point.

    Though I agree that the skipping of debates in a crowded field generates much chatter, both good and bad, I cannot attest to any reasons behind Dumanis and DeMaio skipping aside from what they release publicly.



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