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A local prosecutors union, under pressure from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, has voted to stay out of the hotly contested sheriff’s race, at least for now.

Members of the San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association have been split over whether to endorse appointed Sheriff Bill Gore, who is Dumanis’ choice, or former Deputy Sheriffs Association president Jim Duffy, the choice of fellow law enforcement unions.

Dumanis had urged her deputies to remain neutral since her office deals with the Sheriff’s Department regularly. Yet Dumanis has enthusiastically endorsed Gore and campaigned for him.

The vote took place at the end of January. The association has already interviewed candidates and typically would have endorsed by now, with the June primary fast approaching.

“There was a lot of discussion on the pros and cons, whether to endorse now, whether to endorse later, who to support, who not to support,” said the union’s vice president, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza. He declined to describe the substance of the debate beyond that.

Dumanis’ efforts on Gore’s behalf have annoyed some of her deputies because it puts them in the awkward position of having to choose between their boss and fellow law enforcement unions, such as the powerful Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, which is backing Duffy.

The prosecutors union is the only major law enforcement association in the county that has not endorsed Duffy. It is also the only one that has yet to make an endorsement.

“Our process is ongoing. So that’s about all I can tell you,” said association president Dave Hendren, who has personally endorsed Duffy. “I’m not going to commit to what we’re going to do or not do in the future.”

Gore is supported by the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Peace Officers’ Association and the San Diego County Police Chiefs’ and Sheriffs’ Association, according to his website.

Duffy is backed by 18 law enforcement unions from the county and state, including a coalition of unions known as the Peace Officers Research Association of California, the largest statewide association in the nation with 790 member organizations representing 60,000-plus officers, his website said.

— KELLY THORNTON

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