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Thursday, May 05, 2005 | County Supervisor Ron Roberts, thrice defeated in San Diego mayoral battles, announced Wednesday that he would not seek the opening left by Mayor Dick Murphy’s resignation.

An emotional Roberts stood in front of the County Administration Building with his wife, Helene, on an overcast morning and told reporters that it “was probably the toughest decision ever.” But, after meeting with supporters and advisors, the former architect chose against a fourth mayoral campaign.

“The administration I thought had to be removed has essentially removed itself,” Roberts said of the administration of Murphy, who defeated him in 2000 and 2004.

That now leaves only 82 days until the July 26 primary. In the week-and-a-half since Murphy announced his resignation under the pressure of mounting investigatory, financial and legitimacy concerns, the candidate list has undulated greatly, with well-known characters bowing out and new names popping in each day.

The election promises to move at breakneck speed once the field is confirmed. Candidates have from May 13 until May 27 to file candidacy papers and then will essentially have two months to raise money and get their names and plans out to the public.

The new mayor will have no small hand in shaping the San Diego that emerges from an era tainted by federal investigations, a structural budget problem and a $1.37 billion pension deficit. The new head will also likely inherit a city with a suspended credit rating and long-delayed fiscal year 2003 and 2004 audits.

Still, Roberts said San Diego was on the right track.

“I feel like we are on the road to recovery,” he said, standing only yards from where he announced his last candidacy in the fall of 2003.

The two announced candidates to date are Republican former police Chief Jerry Sanders and Councilwoman Donna Frye.

A number of other potential candidates remained undecided, including: Stephen Cushman, port commissioner and automotive dealer; Steve Francis, health care executive and former Nevada state legislator; Peter Q. Davis, former port commissioner and investment banker; Juan Vargas, assemblyman and former city councilman; attorney Pat Shea; businessman and City Hall critic Carl DeMaio; and state Assemblyman George Plescia.

Roberts’ supporters and others believe he would have won the 2004 election if it weren’t for Frye’s last-minute write-in candidacy, launched five weeks before the November runoff election. In fact, the press release announcing Wednesday’s press conference declared that sentiment.

He ended up finishing third in the controversial election. Murphy won with 34.5 percent of the vote total after the Registrar of Voters discounted 5,000 write-in votes for Councilwoman Donna Frye in which voters failed to shade in the oval after writing her name on the ballot.

Francis, a name known to few until only days ago, appears to have the support of some of the big business names around town and he spoke this week at a breakfast held by hotelier Doug Manchester. However, he would also have the biggest hill to climb in terms of name recognition, especially considering the election cycle is so condensed.

Please contact Andrew Donohue directly at

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