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Assemblyman Todd Gloria has taken control of San Diego’s mayoral race after winning the Democratic Party’s endorsement Tuesday night.
The party’s endorsement is potentially pivotal because the race so far includes only Democrats, and registered Democrats in the city outnumber registered Republicans by nearly two to one.
The endorsement means the Democratic Party can now spend as much as it would like on Gloria’s behalf, as long as it’s communicating with registered Democrats. Political parties also have less stringent fundraising requirements than individual candidates. Voters also often have little information about candidates in local races, so knowing which one is endorsed by the Democratic Party in a race that will share a ballot with the Democratic presidential primary could carry the day for Gloria.
Gloria won 70 percent of votes cast by the party’s central committee, crossing the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement.
“I hope you can taste that change,” Gloria said to party members after winning the endorsement. “It is coming next year.”
Gloria has also raised more money than his opponents during the first six months of the year, with about $130,000 more available going forward than Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who came in second place with 14 percent of the vote. He has racked up endorsements from labor groups and elected officials from across the state. At Tuesday’s meeting, state Sen. President Pro Tem Toni Atkins spoke on his behalf, the most high-profile official to participate in the process.
Before the vote, the only question was whether Bry and community activist Tasha Williamson, the third candidate in the race, could keep the party from endorsing anyone until after the primary. It was a foregone conclusion that they would not have enough support to win the endorsement for themselves.
“We are fighting for the soul of our city,” Bry said to a group of supporters before the vote. “We’re going to win no matter what happens tonight.”
After the vote, her campaign had printed statements ready for reporters, signalling the extent to which the party’s decision was not a surprise. She expressed disappointment that the party didn’t let voters decide for themselves in the primary and said it reinforces her campaign narrative that the city needs a mayor to challenge the powers that be at City Hall.
Before the meeting, Williamson, who has been an outspoken activist on criminal justice issues and is now running a grassroots campaign that brought in less than $1,000 in the first six months of the year, said the party’s decision makers are not reflective of all registered Democrats, and the room was full of people who had power and privilege.
“That power and privilege needs to be distributed equitably,” she said. “I am a different candidate, and I’m looking for people power.”
What’s next: Now that the party has made its decision, all eyes will be on any Republican who might consider getting into the race. It would still qualify as a shock if no Republican stages a mayoral campaign in a city currently run by a Republican. Councilman Mark Kersey, an independent who left the GOP earlier this year, and Councilman Scott Sherman are getting the most attention.
But if neither of them gets in the race, it’s possible Bry could mount a case to get Republicans — or folks connected to pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association who typically align with conservatives — to consider supporting her bid.