He thought he may have been poisoned when furtively working for Boris Yeltsin in Russia.

He found spiritual enlightenment on the site of ancient Mayan ruins in Mexico.

And now he’s working to defeat Bob Filner’s bid for mayor.

Political operative George Gorton’s returning to San Diego mayoral politics for the November campaign, the U-T reported this morning.

The news caught our attention, because Andrew Donohue and I spent a fascinating few months in 2008 unraveling Gorton’s outrageous life story:

He’d clawed back from Watergate and plotted the triumphs of San Diego’s most famous politician, a man who’d be mayor, senator, governor and even presidential candidate, Pete Wilson. He’d become the international political consultant extraordinaire, very secretly pulling the strings in some of the world’s youngest democracies, invisibly sweeping Russian President Boris Yeltsin across the finish line and quietly greeting Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega to plot the Central American nation’s future.

He’d authored the real-life story that transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger from a movie star into a political force. Along the way, he helped orchestrate some of politics’ most divisive campaigns: Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection bid and the 1994 passage of Proposition 187, which denied social services to illegal immigrants.

And when he wasn’t hoisting others into positions of extreme power, he was off in some hidden corner of the world, learning Toltec traditions in Teotihuacan or Buddhism in Thailand. …
He wonders, too, if he even has traditional Parkinson’s. He’s had creeping suspicions that he was poisoned in Russia.

If you’re interested to learn more about this character who’ll play a role for a political action committee supporting Carl DeMaio, you can read our series on Gorton’s mindboggling life: Part One, “From San Diego to Moscow: George Gorton’s Strange and Wild Assignments” and Part Two, “Battling Oligarchs and Parkinson’s: The Great Resurrections of George Gorton.”

I’m Kelly Bennett, reporter for Voice of San Diego. You can reach me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531.

And follow Behind the Scene on Facebook.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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