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Former state Sen. Joel Anderson and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus / Photos by Adriana Heldiz and Vito Di Stefano

This week, a memo about the District 2 county supervisor race circulated among members of the government affairs committee of the Pacific Southwest Association of Realtors.

District 2 is the East County race between Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and former state Sen. Joel Anderson. It’s no District 3 – the big, decisive race between Republican Kristin Gaspar and Democrat Terra Lawson Remer – but it will matter.

More people than ever are paying attention to the county because of its role with public health and its vast reserves that many hoped could be deployed to alleviate the mental health and homeless crisis in San Diego. The partisan breakdown on the board won’t be everything and both Vaus and Anderson seem eager to prove to people on the left that they would collaborate with the lone Democrat on the board now, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

The memo from the Realtors, which already endorsed Anderson, was bullish on the former senator. He won decisively in the primary, they point out. The Republican Party endorsed him, too. Vaus didn’t get even a majority in his own city, Poway.

And he’s going to have trouble with the left, they said. Someone was going to win the left.

Anti-Cowboy-Hat Bias: “While the Vaus cowboy image is appealing in Poway and remote parts of the district, Anderson’s professional attire will be more appealing in the city of San Diego,” the report reads.

Cowboy hats are cool, though.

Well hello, liberals: Scott Barnett, who ran an independent expenditure effort against Vaus, told us he thinks Anderson will appeal to the more liberal voters. Part of the district does overlap the city of San Diego, and Democrat Kenya Taylor got 27 percent of the vote in the primary – only 4 points below Vaus.

Barnett touted Anderson’s record working with Fletcher, when they were in the Legislature together. He pointed out that Anderson didn’t caucus with Republicans, and he angered contractor groups that usually take on construction unions in local politics.

“He’s well positioned to win this,” Barnett said.

Vaus, though, has some credibility with the left, said John Hoy, his campaign consultant. Hoy pointed to the endorsement Vaus received from Mary Salas, the mayor of Chula Vista. Vaus has also been elected by his peers on the San Diego Association of Governments as chair. Fletcher has gotten a lot done because of Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox’s support of him and his initiatives. Both Cox and Jacob adamantly support Vaus.

“He’s demonstrated he can work well with basically everybody from all parties,” Hoy said. And to the attack that Vaus couldn’t even win Poway, Hoy pointed out that Anderson has represented the region for 12 years and only got 35 percent of the vote in the primary.

The money situation: Mason Herron, our go-to fundraising analyst, said the race is unique. Anderson has been raising and hoarding money since 2015 for the race, and he spent hardly any of it in the primary. Vaus, on the other hand, raised a lot of money in the short term and Jacob, the incumbent who is termed out has all but promised to spend her remaining war chest supporting Vaus.

“So there are two outstanding questions: 1) How much ‘general election’ money does Joel (Anderson) have in his account, and 2) Will he be able to raise enough to overcome Vaus’ money — as well as a potential onslaught from Dianne Jacob?” Herron said.

This week, the East County Chamber of Commerce endorsed Anderson too.

“Anderson’s long history of representing the interests of business owners while he was in the legislature makes him uniquely qualified to serve as our Supervisor,” said Rick Wilson, the president and CEO of the Chamber.

Consider Shooting the Virus With Your Gun

County Supervisor Jim Desmond is not letting the news of reversals of reopening efforts in Texas or an increase in the infections here worry him. He’s still pushing for more openings. In his latest video update posted Friday, Desmond explained that the increase in cases is not accompanied by a proportional increase in hospitalizations. It’s just a result of testing more asymptomatic people, he said. He was implying, again, that the virus isn’t that bad, a bunch of people have it, aren’t really affected by it and we’re just finding them now.

The hospitalization rate, though, has gone up – more than the 10 percent rate that pulls another trigger that is supposed to lead to modification of the health order (i.e., the quarantine). In fact, it’s up 19 percent. Earlier this week, the hospitalization rate was decreasing.

And over the last five days, testing has gone down but cases have been going up.

The positive rate has been going up as well. Friday, 6 percent of the tests that came back were positive – for weeks as we started reopening, it was hovering around 2 percent. Now, for two weeks, it has averaged 5 percent. So it’s not that they’re testing more people, with the same low rate. They’re testing a lot of people and more of the tests are coming back positive.

As of Friday, there were 416 people in hospitals with COVID-19, the first time that number has been above 400 in a month.

It’s not good. But it’s also not clear what will happen if it gets worse. The last time a trigger was triggered, it triggered … a press conference and proactive announcement. This time, the county just updated the website.

Wellness is important: Desmond displayed a moment of vulnerability in the video about how hard this has been on him and how he gets through it.

With his firearm, obviously. He showed off some target practice he had done with the virus.

“This is how I relieved my frustrations,” he said.

This Week in Unsubstantiated Speculation

One thing that’s fun to dabble in sometimes is unsubstantiated speculation. You get to look smart if you are eventually right and nobody remembers if you were wrong. At least, that is the hope.

So here’s some: Former Vice President Joe Biden is going to need a running mate for his campaign for president. He’s pledged to pick a woman, and there’s a decent chance that woman will be Sen. Kamala Harris.

Let’s say he does pick her and they win. If that happens, there’s a decent chance California Gov. Gavin Newsom will choose someone from San Diego, like, say, Sen. Toni Atkins, the president of the state Senate, to fill Harris’ seat. And if that happens, it could set off a domino effect in politics unlike any time since Bob Filner vacated his congressional seat (which opened up a place for then state Sen. Juan Vargas, which opened a spot in the state Senate for then Assemblyman Ben Hueso, which opened a spot for now Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, which forced a transition at the Labor Council, where she was secretary treasurer).

Atkins is a good guess for the Senate seat. She’s well liked by the governor and has a preternatural ability to ascend political ladders.

If she left her seat, Chris Ward, the favorite for Todd Gloria’s Assembly seat, may want to move over just as Atkins did before him. Then that open Assembly seat would set off an interesting scramble, which could include the chairman of the Democratic Party, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy or maybe even Gloria’s longtime aide, Nick Serrano.

Or, none of these things could happen. Who’s to know?

Andrew Keatts ended up writing something that is actually a good story on its own so we’ll just publish that later. All he helped with on this report was the math showing cases have gone up the last few days even as tests have gone down, which was a fine contribution. If you have any feedback or ideas for the Politics Report, send them to or 

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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