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This post originally appeared in the Feb. 15 Politics Report. Get the Politics Report delivered to your inbox.
The battle to make the November runoff in the mayor’s race is fierce. On Feb. 11, the same day a poll showed Councilwoman Barbara Bry 5 points behind Councilman Scott Sherman in the race for second place to Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Bry contributed $60,000 to her own campaign.
Then, Bry’s husband went on the attack. Neil Senturia sent out a plea to donations and referenced our news from last week’s Politics Report that former SoccerCity leader, Nick Stone, had donated to the Republican Party because of his support for Sherman.
Senturia had a conspiracy theory that SoccerCity would rise from the dead:
They know Sherman can’t win straight up in a Democratic leaning City, but if they can get Mr. Gloria elected, well maybe they can sabotage the deal and revisit the “scene of the crime.” Maybe with Mr. Gloria as Mayor they can maneuver enough to get back at the table after SDSU West is derailed by legal eagles and litigation.
Gloria supported Measure G, the initiative that directed the city to sell the land at the stadium site to San Diego State University.
That wasn’t all: A group called Taxpayers Advocates sent out an attack mailer to Republicans hitting Sherman for not being loyal enough to Trump.
Taxpayers Advocates is managed by former San Diego school board member Scott Barnett, who used to run the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. In 2003, after leaving that organization, he formed taxpayersadvocate.org.
Barnett has never been much of a partisan himself. He represented a group of Republicans opposed to Democrat Gov. Gray Davis’ recall in 2003 and, when he ran for school board, he had the support of both the teachers union and the Republican Party. But he quickly fell out of favor with conservatives as he became an outspoken advocate for property tax increases for school construction bonds.
All this to say, it’s kind of weird he would ding someone for not supporting President Trump enthusiastically enough.
Except when you realize he’s sending it to Republican households. He’s trying to help clear Bry’s pathway to the runoff.
We asked him who funded the mailer.
Short answer: Who can say, really?
“This is a general recipient committee, which has been open for several years and I have been raising funds from a variety of sources who choose to donate to the committee, which is able to be involved in any state or local campaign,” Barnett wrote to us. He said his donors do not tell him where the money will go. He decides.
The disclosures are unclear for now. Barnett hinted that the Feb. 20 disclosures may be more illuminating.
But Barnett was direct about what he wanted: He supports Bry.
“I think she has the best combination of skills, background and decisiveness to lead the city. Sherman will be killed by Todd in the general,” Barnett wrote.
And his hit on Sherman from the Trumpist right was just to rile up Republicans.
“The mailer is designed so GOP voters understand where Sherman is on issues important to them. They don’t trust anti-Trumpers,” he wrote.
Sherman fired back: It is the way of these things that you must face the attack and then complain that you have been attacked to your supporters and ask for money.
But check out The Shermanator’s ninja move: Instead of responding that he, in fact, does support Trump wholeheartedly (something he has steadfastly refused to do) Sherman told supporters the attack was on his Republican Party bona fides. And he responded to that, thereby avoiding having to express loyalty to Trump.
“Yesterday, a false and dishonest mailing was sent to Republican voters attacking me as a RINO (Republican In Name Only),” Sherman wrote.
He went on: “Their goal is to confuse Republican voters in hopes that one of the liberal Democrats wins. Don’t be fooled. I am the officially endorsed candidate of the Republican Party of San Diego County and they are attacking me because they know we are just 18 days from victory.”
Dems Want to Sink Bry
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, continues to see only one successful outcome in the mayoral race: Gloria winning. It’s spending money to make it happen.
We asked Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the party’s chair, whether they would consider attacking Sherman to help Bry make the runoff. That would guarantee the next mayor would be a Democrat.
No, he said. When the party endorsed Gloria this summer, it made its decision.
He said he wouldn’t see a Bry victory as a consolation prize, even though she is a Democrat.
“She’s adopted cruel stances on homelessness that don’t make political sense and which are complete 180s that are inconsistent with party values,” he said. “She seems to think her path to victory is hitting Todd on every little thing, but she’s bleeding support from the left and the right.”
Public polls have shown Gloria leading the field with just under 30 percent of the vote, but that’s with nearly a third of voters saying they’re undecided. Rodriguez-Kennedy said the party isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We are well financed, so we have to spend to make sure those undecided voters go to Todd,” he said.