It was a big San Diego beach party last night at the Town & Country Hotel, where more than 500 attendees watched Mayor Jerry Sanders officially announced his bid for reelection.

Bonnie and Jim

Thatch-roofed huts lined the ballroom and employees clad in Hawaiian shirts poured drinks for the various City Hall types, who were treated to a short speech by Sanders, two videos and some cheesy jokes by the emcee.

Here are some notes:

  • Both in Sanders’ speech and one of the videos, the campaign highlighted a theme that voters will probably see a lot more of: Do you remember what the city was like before Sanders?

The video noted that in the spring of 2005, as Dick Murphy resigned and Sanders and others were gearing up to run for mayor, the city suffered from a “financial meltdown,” “allegations of fraud,” and a “loss of confidence in city government.”

Sanders also noted that the city’s switch to a strong-mayor form of government, in which the mayor runs the entire city bureaucracy, coincided with Sanders’ installation in late 2005. “It was the political equivalent of a perfect storm,” he told attendees.

The message was clear: The situation Sanders inherited was so bad that he deserves some leeway on any first-term shortcomings that his opponents bring up on the campaign trail.

“The bottom line is that government is slowly but surely improving,” he said. But vowed that by the end of his second term, should he win one, that, “city government will be transformed into one of the most efficient operations in the United States.”

  • The video had some interesting characterizations of Sanders’ competitors in 2005. When a picture of Steve Francis appeared, it called him “a wealthy Nevada legislator.” He’s better known now as the co-founder of a healthcare staffing company and the benefactor of the San Diego Institute for Policy Research, but he was indeed the majority leader of the Nevada assembly in the 1980s. Francis is likely going to be Sanders’ main opposition in the 2008 race.

For Councilwoman Donna Frye, who lost in the runoff in 2005, the video referred to her as a “politically savvy city councilwoman.”

More on the kickoff will come later, so check back.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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