It’s been one of those years, and not just because of Donald Trump.

Consider these bumps on the road to today’s primary election: A newspaper suggests writing in a famous dead guy to send a message but fails to realize that the votes won’t be counted. A politician — an actual congressman — tries to convince the public that he’s not “into politics.” And political mailer compares a City Council candidate to a mongoose, prompting debate over whether the the accompanying photo actually shows a meerkat.

There’s more where those came from. Here are some of this campaign season’s most notable mishaps, odd decisions and Trumpian slurs:

Not So Tanned. Not So Ready. Rested? Well …

After calling Donald Trump “The Great Excommunicator,” The San Diego Union-Tribune suggested in an editorial that GOP primary voters should write in the name of the late President Ronald Reagan. “Maybe,” the paper hoped, “Trump will get the message.”

Spoiler alert: He won’t, even if he’s actually listening, which he isn’t. That’s because no one will ever know how many people cast write-in votes for Ronald Reagan.

That’s the word from Michael Vu, the county’s registrar of voters. Republicans can write-in a candidate for president in the GOP primary, but the votes won’t be counted unless the person is a qualified write-in candidate, Vu said.

There’s actually a list of 10 qualified write-in candidates for president, plus five on the Democratic side. Reagan is not on the list.

In fact, he cannot be a qualified write-in candidate due to his status as a dead person, Vu said.

Politics Has Broken Out! Where’s the Fainting Couch?

Former Democratic legislator Lori Saldaña is running a long-shot campaign for mayor as an independent. In March, via a campaign press release, Saldaña announced that her opponent, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, had gone too far.

SLEAZE-GATE!” the press release hollered, darkly warning of wrongdoing by Faulconer’s campaign.

What did the incumbent’s team do wrong? Nothing, as far as anyone knows. The press release only discloses that an opposition research firm was requesting public records regarding her work as a community college professor. This act of basic politicking, without a hint of inappropriate behavior, so appalled the Saldana campaign that it declared it “may represent a new low for San Diego.” As if.

Saldaña elaborated on what she found so offensive about Faulconer’s campaign tactics on an episode of “San Diego Decides.”

You Know Politics Is Your Actual Job, Right?

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter — the younger Duncan Hunter, not the elder — was one of the first members of Congress to support Trump. So will he serve as a delegate to the GOP convention in Cleveland?

Nope. “I’m not into politics … I have other stuff to do,” he told the L.A. Times, despite these facts: (1) He is a congressman. (2) He supports Trump big-time. (3) He is a shoo-in to be re-elected, so he doesn’t need to campaign heavily. (4) He was on Trump’s list of delegates. (5) See No. 1. (6) See No. 2.

Hunter plans to send an alternate.

Hunter, of course, isn’t the first politician to profess a disdain for politics.

Vote for Him! Or Him! Either Way, Really!

Now hear this: Local conservatives likes to promote Democrats.

We’ll pause while you read that again. Yes, it’s true: For the third citywide election in a row, as we discovered, conservatives are cozying up to certain Democrats. Their goal: Push the weak Democrat forward and move in for the kill during the general election.

This time, conservatives sent out a flier that seems to be promoting Republican city attorney candidate Bob Hickey but also makes Democrat Rafael Castellanos sound pretty good. Another mail piece, paid for by The Lincoln Club, promotes Hickey but also includes Castellanos and another Democrat, Mara Elliott.

Hickey’s campaign, by the way, said it wants the mailers to stop.

The U-T finds that local firefighters are engaging in a similar strategy, from the Democratic side, in the Council District 1 race.

Just Another Bump in the Road

During his rally here last month, Donald Trump ventured a complaint about San Diego’s most untreasured trait: our tire-torturing, teeth-rattling, suspension-aggravating streets. “Horrible shape,” Trump declared, in a reference to the city’s potholes, The Sacramento Bee reported.


This Campaign’s an Absolute Zoo, Literally

A candidate for City Council declared himself a “mongoose” when to comes to potholes. If the potholes were cobras, that is.

Wait, whaaa?

Our Scott Lewis tried to decipher the claim, which came in a campaign mailer supporting Councilman Scott Sherman.

There’s a dispute about whether the animal depicted in the mailer is a mongoose or a meerkat. But the message — candidate X is to potholes as predator animal Y is to predat-ee animal Z — isn’t likely to go away. A local campaign trotted this out two years ago (with a lion vs. warthog metaphor) and another campaign did it this year too (lion vs. African buffalo). In both cases, the goal was to promote the candidate’s pothole-fighting bona fides.

If this keeps up this fall, I’m calling Animal Protective Services.

Hefty Ballot: Stronger Than a Speeding Bullet?

CityBeat columnist John R. Lamb found the sample ballot to be overstuffed, writing that it “clocks in at 146 pages, gargantuan enough to jam open a door or, quite possibly, stop a small-caliber bullet.”

Now, really. Would a sample ballot actually have any value as armor against a bullet? That’s hard to belie … Oh wait, President Theodore Roosevelt would like a word.

“Campaigning for president, Roosevelt was spared almost certain death when 50 pieces of paper slowed an assailant’s bullet headed for his chest,” Smithsonian Magazine reminds.

Fine. I’m going to make a bullet-resistant suit out of sample ballots.

Go, Team! No, Really. Just Go.

Was a City Council candidate de-Charger-ed via PhotoShop?

“As noted by challenger Justin DeCesare last week, incumbent Republican District 7 City Councilmember Scott Sherman was featured smiling in one mailer in a spiffy dark-blue logo-less shirt,” CityBeat reported. However, “a hauntingly similar photo remained on Sherman’s Facebook page, with one glaring difference: This one included a San Diego Chargers lightning bolt logo.”

You know how the song goes: “Saaan-Dee-Ayy-Gooo Super Charg … Um … Never mind.”

Mayor Waxes Lyrical in Gushing Ad

With a few minor edits, the voiceover in a campaign ad by Mayor Kevin Faulconer could become the lyrics of a Top 40 hit: “There’s a heartbeat/There’s a rhythm/A sense of energy/You can feel it right now/We’ve been through tough times/But we’re back.”

We can see the new Broadway hit musical now: “Faulconer!” It’ll be like “Hamilton,” just blonder and with more Bermuda shorts.

And with that bracing image, we’ll see you back here in November, if not earlier, for another edition of San Diego Politics Gone Wild.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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