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I mentioned below that I am on the panel of questioners for NBC 7/39’s live city attorney debate Sunday. I just caught the incumbent, City Attorney Mike Aguirre, on the phone and he made the surprising declaration that he was not going to show up for the debate.

I’m told by NBC people that he had agreed to the debate that was going to be moderated by anchor Marty Levin with a panel made up of me, Gene Cubbison and Susan Taylor.

What happened?

Aguirre said, basically, he wants to let the others fight it out for once.

“It’s just better to let these guys have an opportunity to present themselves and let the community see what they have to offer. The community knows what I have to offer,” Aguirre said.

He did say, however, he was going to keep his appointment to appear at a KUSI debate just before Election Day, June 3.

“I will do the last one because I think I should do at least one TV debate,” he said.

He also said he skipped an interview with the Union-Tribune editorial board, which is considering its endorsement. The U-T, of course, infamously endorsed Aguirre in 2004. (As if there’s any suspense. The U-T will undoubtedly endorse Judge Jan Goldsmith for city attorney and Jerry Sanders for mayor.)

The city attorney said the other city attorney candidates should have a chance to talk at these forums without it being “defined” by him.

“I’ve been scrutinized, it’s time for those guys to let the public see what they have going without it turning into a slugfest with me,” Aguirre said.

He may have a good point. I thought, a while ago, that it wasn’t inconceivable that Aguirre would not make it past the primary. I thought it was at least possible. In that case, I imagined he would have to fight pretty hard right now to ensure that he got a ticket to the general election.

Now though, it looks pretty clear that the real uncertainty is who gets to go on to November to challenge Aguirre. In that case, it may actually be good for us to just look at Goldsmith, Council President Scott Peters, Councilman Brian Maienschein and lawyer Amy Lepine.

We’ll see.

SCOTT LEWIS

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