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Last week, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña was, by all appearances, a mayoral candidate. This week, it’s hard to tell — even for her.
Saldaña filed initial paperwork at City Hall and later sought labor leaders’ support at a Friday gathering. The appearance pleased supporters.
Over the weekend, the former three-term assemblywoman shared her top campaign platforms with NBC 7 and CBS 8. Meanwhile, supporters began collecting signatures so she can qualify for the Nov. 19 mayor’s race if she wants.
But the Democrat now insists she still hasn’t decided whether she’ll ultimately run.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” Saldaña said late Wednesday. “That’s where I am. It’s a big decision to run for mayor.”
That hasn’t stopped Saldaña from creating confusion.
Weekend news stories painted her as the latest progressive candidate to emerge to face against fellow Democrats including David Alvarez, Mike Aguirre and Nathan Fletcher.
A group that’s dubbed itself “Draft Lori Saldaña” has pulled together volunteers to collect signatures. They bring campaign signs from her past races to draw attention to their effort and Saldaña herself has showed up at a couple of their gatherings. The group’s Facebook page has nearly 300 likes.
Saldaña said it’s not her intention to confuse. She claims filing initial paperwork and attending the labor meeting were essential to begin organizing — even if she can’t say whether she’ll ultimately commit to the race.
“If you have any plans to run, you need to be in the mix and talking to people or you won’t have that choice,” Saldaña said.
Saldaña reasoned that she might have appeared to be “disrespectful to working people” had she not showed up at the Friday endorsement event organized by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. (The group ultimately decided to back Alvarez in the mayor’s race.)
Saldaña admits it’s taken her longer than she initially envisioned to decide whether to run. City rules give her until Sept. 20 to join the race but she had planned to make an announcement after Labor Day weekend. That didn’t happen.
She’s since had regular conversations with labor leaders, residents and even detractors to help her weigh a bid. She said she has yet to accept campaign donations, though supporters have offered cash.
This isn’t the first time Saldaña has dithered over a political race.
Secretary of state records show she’s created campaign committees for at least three posts since 2009, the year before she was termed out of the state Assembly. She later opted not to run for a seat on the state Board of Equalization or for state Senate.
And she backed out of a county Board of Supervisors race in 2010, six months after announcing she’d seek Ron Roberts’ seat. Saldaña now says she quit the race to care for an ill family member, who later died.
She said that past experience, coupled with a new gig teaching classes at the San Diego Community College District, have complicated her decision-making process in the mayor’s race.
Things apparently remain complicated. On Wednesday night, Saldaña said she couldn’t guess when she might make her decision.