A big domino fell Tuesday morning in the race to be San Diego’s next mayor.

Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer officially bowed out of the race and endorsed District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Faulconer, a proven fundraiser and darling of the downtown establishment, has long been rumored as a candidate. But with both Dumanis and Republican Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher trying to occupy the same moderate Republican space held by current Mayor Jerry Sanders, it was difficult to see where Faulconer fit in the race.

“I am honored and humbled by the support I have received from San Diegans who have encouraged me to run for mayor,” Faulconer said in a release. “I am going to continue to responsibly reform city government, deliver quality neighborhood services and protect our beaches and bays as a leader on the City Council. It is my hope that Bonnie Dumanis can join me at City Hall as San Diego’s next mayor.”

Faulconer cited Dumanis’ leadership, executive experience and strength as a consensus builder as reasons for the endorsement.

Faulconer’s decision is a big boost to Dumanis’ campaign. Both Fletcher and Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio eclipsed her in buzz, making their announcements this week with the start of official fundraising. Dumanis declared her candidacy in March and has been largely absent from public campaigning since.

The move is all the more interesting because Faulconer is a key supporter of the big-ticket ballot measure to replace pensions with 401(k)s for most new city employees. Dumanis opposes the measure, saying firefighters should receive pensions.

“Pension reform is an important issue,” Faulconer said. “But it’s one issue.”

Faulconer’s decision could indicate that the 401(k) measure isn’t the mayoral litmus test many thought it would be. The biggest potential endorsement on the Republican side is Sanders, who is a close Dumanis ally. Sanders also is pushing the 401(k) plan.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of Kevin Faulconer,” Dumanis said in a release. “His leadership on the City Council has been critical. He took office at a time when San Diego was saddled with financial mismanagement and scandal. Thanks to his hard work on behalf of taxpayers, San Diego is in much better shape. It’s a credit to his leadership that we’ve made progress in recovering from one of the worst recessions in history.”

Faulconer had $75,000 left over from his 2010 council campaign, as of the latest financial disclosure, likely more seed money than any other candidate in the mayoral race.

Faulconer said he used some of the money to pay for a poll on the mayoral race. He declined to release its results or elaborate on if the poll played a role in his decision.

“It showed it was going to be a very tough race for everybody,” Faulconer said.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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