When Carl DeMaio pulled papers for the 50th Congressional District on Monday of last week, while also paying the $1,740 non-refundable filing fee, many thought that was a final decision. He was indeed running against Duncan Hunter.
When he then announced last Friday he wasn’t running, it surprised the same “many.”
Why the heck would he cough up over 1,700 smackers when he could have waited on that part until a final decision?
It’s pretty simple. DeMaio wanted El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells to think the same thing the “many” did, that he was indeed running, hoping somehow Wells would decide to opt out of the race as a result.
Neither DeMaio nor Wells want a Republican split of any anti-Hunter vote.
As Steve Gramm wrote last week in DeMaio’s dilemma, which is a great reality assessment of the Hunter seat situation, “If there is any (even remote) possibility whatsoever that two Republicans, Hunter and another candidate, can make it through the June election and face each other in the run-off, such a possibility goes completely out the window if another ‘name’ Republican now gets in the race.”
There you have it:
- Wells announced he was running three weeks ago, beating DeMaio to the punch.
- Early last week DeMaio not only pulled papers to run, he anted up with the filing fee. A strong message that he was actually in — and a risk worth taking with the cash — hoping Wells would see DeMaio was serious and get the mayor to change his mind.
- Wells, not biting, made it official the next day, finalizing his filing — now he’s on the ballot.
- That dashed DeMaio’s prior move. Concerned with the odds in the conservative 50th, combined now with a split vote scenario to boot, DeMaio decided it’s a risk of a different level than a mere $1,740, and opted out while announcing he’s staying focused on reversing the gas tax.
This was political chess of a high order. Hunter, however, is still the king on the board. What move comes next is anyone’s guess.