I just got a call from Mayor Jerry Sanders regarding today’s ongoing controversy about whether he cursed at rival Steve Francis.

“You’re calling me to ask me if I said ‘F— you, Francis,’” he said to me. “I did not say that.”

“I said, ‘F— you, Steve,’” Sanders said to me. (He used the full expression, but since we’re a family website, I’ve chosen to slightly edit his comments.)

The mayor’s spokesman had told me earlier today that the claim made in the Blog of San Diego was “patently false.”

But the mayor called back and said he’s tired of Francis impugning his reputation, tired of him doing push polls that impugn his record, and tired of the fact that the media isn’t covering the race and therefore allowing Francis to “buy the office” with millions of his personal funds.

“I’m just tired of that. I don’t have time for it. The fact that I had a conversation in private with Steve, and now he’s telling everyone, I don’t have time for it either. But I’m not going to lie about it,” Sanders said. “He stuck out his hand and I said, ‘F— you Steve.’”

He continued: “I’m just very, very tired of him impugning my reputation, impugning my record and him spending millions of dollars to buy the office and the fact that nobody will cover that.

“It does bother me that this is going to get more coverage than the bulls— he’s pulled.”

Sanders was especially critical of the push polls he alleges Francis has been conducting and of what he called the media’s lack of coverage of Francis’ campaign.

This is from a release sent out Monday by the Sanders campaign alleging that Francis had been conducting these push polls:

Camouflaged as a scientific poll, the caller asked a set of progressively more negative questions about Mayor Sanders, many false or misleading. Commonly regarded as one of the most negative forms of campaigning, “push polls” are not intended as polls, but rather as a slimy way of spreading disinformation about an opponent without taking personal responsibility for the attack.  At no time during the call does Mr. Francis disclose that he paid for this deceitful tactic.

I asked Sanders what claims specifically bothered him.

“Saying that I’m a caretaker. This is from a man who has changed every position he’s ever had and lied about them,” he said.

I then asked the mayor if this conversation was the result of the stresses of a campaign. This is how he responded:

I’m stressed because I can’t get the press to pay any attention to this campaign. It seems to be oh, well, we’ll let him buy the office.

It’s nothing that I try to get into. On the other hand, the fact that he is whining about something that I said to him privately, I find very interesting.

I’ll send him a box of tissues.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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