Want the news summarized?
Subscribe to The Morning Report.

It looked like it might shape up to be San Diego’s own Super Tuesday, complete with three major mayoral campaign announcements. In reality, it was more like Nay Day 2013.

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, former Councilman Carl DeMaio and Interim Mayor Todd Gloria each announced Tuesday they won’t run for mayor in the wake of Bob Filner’s resignation.

They’re just the latest to say they won’t seek the mayor’s office.

State Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and former state Sen. Christine Kehoe have also declined to join the race.

Meanwhile, at least 15 others have thrown their hats in. They include former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and a flock of lesser-known San Diegans. Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre has said he plans to run; ex- Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña is weighing a potential bid.

Here are some takeaways on how the race is shaping up – or not – following Tuesday’s big announcements:

For some, now isn’t the time.

Roberts, Gloria and Atkins’ “I’m Not Running” announcements all struck a similar tone: I’ve got a job already and I’m busy with it.

But their decisions could be politically convenient.

Roberts, who’s been a county supervisor since 1995, is a three-time mayor’s race loser. He’ll run for re-election as supervisor again in 2014. A bid for the mayor’s office would have meant a grueling campaign with a far-from-guaranteed outcome. Supervisor seats, on the other hand, have been historically safe. (In January, Supervisor Dave Roberts became the first new addition to the board in nearly two decades.)

Roberts emphasized what he hopes to do if he’s re-elected in a Tuesday statement on his decision not to run for mayor.

“Much remains to be accomplished,” Roberts wrote. “I look forward to the completion of our waterfront park, our new Registrar of Voters building and the Mid Coast Trolley Line, to list just a few.”

Atkins’ Aug. 25 announcement was similar.

“The simple truth is that I love the job I have now — being able to help advance San Diego’s interests and concerns in the Legislature and being able to have a statewide impact on vital issues like increasing access to health care, growing our economy and honoring the debt we owe to our veterans,” Atkins wrote.

Sticking around may also help Atkins pursue higher office or more significant posts in the state Legislature.

And then there was Gloria’s Tuesday statement.

“In the few days since I assumed the duties of mayor, it has become clear to me that the problems left by Bob Filner are substantial and serious,” Gloria wrote. “The enormous task of cleaning up City Hall while ensuring District Three is represented requires me to lead a focused team effort that produces quick results for San Diego.”

Gloria, too, may have political reasons for sticking around. Fletcher might have complicated his ability to survive a mayoral primary and at 35, he still has plenty of time to seek the mayor’s office or a House seat.

Where my ladies at?

Thus far, San Diego’s women appear disinterested in a run for mayor.

Atkins and Kehoe bowed out early. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who ran in 2012, and former Councilwoman Donna Frye, have also publicly said they’re not interested.

Only Saldaña, a former Democratic state legislator, is considering a bid.

This is significant in light of the circumstances of Filner’s ouster. He was accused of – and at the very least admitted to – failing to “fully respect women,” which turned a new spotlight on struggles even powerful women face on the job.

And yet, no female candidates have officially stepped up to run for mayor.

Harness the speculation.

For weeks, DeMaio played coy.

The anointed 2014 52nd District congressional candidate appeared on local radio shows and introduced an “Integrity First” plan  to bolster transparency and ethics at City Hall. All the while, he was mum on whether he’d be entering the mayor’s race.

He even remained that way for much of his Tuesday press conference.

DeMaio spent the majority of his roughly 10-minute statement detailing his platform and the need for change within the Republican Party.

In the end, DeMaio finally said, he decided to stick with his congressional bid and help push for reform.

DeMaio’s drawn-out debate over whether to enter the race was, in some ways, masterful.

Holding press conferences and repeatedly posting on his social media accounts about the decision-making process drew attention to a candidate whose race is more than a year away.

DeMaio took advantage of the media crush, waiting until even the final moments of his Tuesday press conference to announce whether he’d run for mayor. Doing so meant free advertising.

Other mayoral candidates may learn from his example.

Councilman David Alvarez, who recently told CityBeat he’s considering a run for mayor, could feasibly draw more attention to his passion projects — like boosting amenities and services for residents south of Interstate 8 — by borrowing from DeMaio’s playbook.

Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.