Friday, July 29, 2005 | Only days removed from a testy primary contest, Jerry Sanders and Steve Francis stood together in unison Thursday as Francis endorsed the former police chief in his runoff bid for San Diego mayor against Donna Frye.
Sanders and Francis, both Republicans, jockeyed fiercely against each other at times in the final weeks of the primary campaign that ended Tuesday with Sanders edging the businessman by a count of 27 percent to 23.5 percent.
On Thursday, Francis urged the more than 56,000 people who voted for him to place their allegiances with the moderate Sanders. Francis had also earned the endorsement of the San Diego County Republican Party in the primary, support that brought with it $84,000 in campaign aid.
He said he will encourage the party to shift their support to Sanders. Francis’ core followers included the more conservative wing of the local Republican community, a group that would certainly boost Sanders’ support against the Democrat Frye. She won the primary with 43 percent of the vote.
“While we don’t always agree on everything, I do believe that Jerry best exemplifies the message that I was trying to convey of fiscal responsibility and not punishing the voters for the mistakes of City Hall politicians,” Francis said. “I look forward to working with Steve over the course of the campaign and when elected as mayor.”
Two weeks ago, Francis began a series of what Sanders described as “deceptive and dishonest attacks ads” that the former police chief claimed misrepresented the views of both candidates.
At the time the ads were launched, Sanders stood in the same plaza outside City Hall as he did yesterday and said: “Steve Francis is more interested in scoring political points than in telling voters the truth. Steve Francis owes the voters of our city an apology.”
But on Thursday each candidate issued kind compliments toward the other.
“Steve brought the perspective of a successful businessman to the race and his ideas of zero-based budgeting and performance audits and outsourcing contributed positively to the search for solutions to City Hall,” Sanders said.
Late in the race, Francis struck at Sanders’ stance on taxes, implying in mailers and television advertising that Sanders wanted to raise taxes upon being elected.
In his original campaign literature, Sanders said: “Given the magnitude of the city’s financial problems, any candidate who tells voters he’s taking options off the table – such as no new taxes or fees or no consideration of bankruptcy under any circumstances – is insulting the intelligence of his or her constituents.”
Francis’ campaign centered around two pledges: no taxes and no bankruptcy. His advertising blitz forced Sanders to adopt a more strict “no taxes” policy. Sanders said he would rather go to bankruptcy than raise taxes.
Yesterday, Francis said he’d been satisfied by Sanders’ clarifications
“I’m very comfortable in endorsing him today,” Francis said.
Regardless of his recent clarification on taxes, Sanders said he and Francis had talked early in the campaign and agreed to throw their support behind the candidate who advanced to the general election.
“Both of us agreed our ideas were similar and both of us agreed we would support the other individual,” he said.
The endorsement is likely to be quite valuable for Sanders, whose moderate social stances were a turnoff for the county’s staunchly conservative party leaders. In a highly contentious decision, they ended up choosing to endorse Francis over motorcycle dealer Myke Shelby, a social conservative who got less than 2 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.
The local Republican Party’s independent expenditure committee essentially matched the spending of the local Democratic Party, putting as much cash toward Francis as the Democrats did toward Frye.
Frye received nearly 105,000 votes in the primary, compared to 65,000 for Sanders and 56,000 for Francis. Francis drew from the more conservative pool of San Diego voters and it is expected to be much harder for Frye to attract their support than Sanders.
Sanders said he would seek the endorsements of the Republican Party, but also have the support of a wide variety of groups and people, including Democrats.
“If there has ever been a time for a nonpartisan race it has been now. And that’s what I’m calling on San Diegans to think about. This is not about politics-as-usual,” Sanders said.
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