San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria during a press conference at the O Lot Safe Sleeping site on the edge of Balboa Park and near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria during a press conference at the O Lot Safe Sleeping site on the edge of Balboa Park and near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Over the past few weeks, as it became clear that San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria had not yet attracted a prominent opponent to his re-election campaign, U.S. Rep. Scott Peters has fielded calls from some San Diego leaders trying to draft him to run.

MaryAnne Pintar, Peters’ longtime aide, acknowledged to the Politics Report that the calls had come. But Peters was sticking with his endorsement and support of Gloria.

“He is not interested in running at this time. But 2028 may be a different story,” Pintar said. She made sure we knew and reported that Peters supported the mayor’s re-election.

So why didn’t Gloria attract a prominent opponent? Yes, Larry Turner, a police officer who will be raising money this weekend in Sunset Cliffs is running and certainly could make an impact on the race. But it won’t be easy or cheap and he has almost no name recognition.

The short answer, I’m sure, from the mayor’s camp is that he’s just so great that nobody even wants to run against him and few people would support anyone who did.

But it is more interesting and complicated than that.

Homelessness remains an intractable crisis for the city that, despite years of mobilization on the topic continues to worsen. Former supporter, basketball legend Bill Walton, has endorsed Turner and takes any and all opportunities to bash the mayor and support critics. The police officers union clearly is still upset with the mayor and many believe he has not taken a hard enough stand on homeless individuals.

On the other hand, many advocates believe he’s been too cruel.

There are obvious and significant tensions between the mayor and prominent City Councilmembers, including Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Monica Montgomery Steppe, who is running for county supervisor. Both have been mentioned as potentially interested in the mayor’s office but have not pulled the trigger.

And there are larger problems, arguably outside the mayor’s purview, like the cost of living, electricity rates and water rates that he is taking heat on.

How has none of this resulted in a major campaign against him?

I surveyed a few people on the left and the right about what was going on. Here are the three reasons I have come up with why no major candidate has stepped up, or likely will, to run against the mayor.

1) Major donors are supportive or apathetic. Many have complaints about the mayor but they aren’t working hard to recruit an alternative and seem content to let him continue. A candidate, even a personally wealthy one like Peters, would want and need big donors to help make the case against Gloria. The first rule of ousting an incumbent is proving they don’t deserve re-election. Then you have to sell yourself as the perfect alternative. In a large city, that would take at least $2 million.

2) The mayor has made the job look miserable and difficult. Somehow the impression has shifted and many now consider the role of county supervisor to offer more opportunities for leadership and resource allocation. In short, it’s become less cool to be mayor and more cool to be a county supervisor. Obviously, former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher had something to do with that, despite his ignominious downfall. But as indefatigable as Gloria is, the job does seem to be wearing on him. His staff always talks about how hard it is. And the problems really are enormous with no easy answers.

3) Who are the leaders waiting on the bench to come in? There don’t appear to be many. The only reasonable response to the above point about how hard the job is is that someone needs to step up who has vision for the city – someone who can lead people to a place they would not go themselves. Who is that right now? Is there literally anyone ready to dedicate themselves to public service who has a vision for the city and the ability and willingness to rally people to help them achieve it? Obviously not.


Fletcher accuser must release content: Superior Court Judge Matthew Braner Friday ordered Grecia Figueroa and her attorneys to turn over all communication and social media messages along with any photos, videos and voice recordings Figueroa has of her interactions with former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Her attorneys had resisted the subpoenas as too broad and potentially including irrelevant personal information. The judge disagreed.

“The requests seek relevant and discoverable documents; indeed such documents are repeatedly referenced throughout Plaintiff’s complaint and go to the very core of her claims against Defendant, and Defendant’s potential defenses to those claims,” Braner had written in his tentative ruling.

This does not include subpoenas to Meta, the company that includes Instagram, where Figueroa and Fletcher exchanged many messages.

The future of the Republican Party of SD: Appears to be largely similar to the past. Jordan Gascon, the executive director of the local party, a paid staff member, has announced he’ll be leaving after the 2024 election cycle, which still has a year to go. He had been rumored to be interested in the chairmanship of the party but Paula Whitsell, the chairwoman, recently announced she would be running again for that role.

If you have any feedback or ideas for the Politics Report, send them to (By the way, Tidal Wave 10U won the Halloween Havoc softball tournament last weekend. No big deal.)

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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  1. “Is there literally anyone … who has a vision for the city and the ability and willingness to rally people to help them achieve it?”
    Donna Frye for Mayor?

  2. Scale back bike lanes in San Diego
    Last week, I was honored and privileged to be the guest speaker at the Triathlon Club of San Diego. I was the first member of this Club at its inception in 1984. I love cycling, running and swimming and became an Ironman triathlete in 1985 logging countless miles on local roads. As a candidate for San Diego Mayor, I vow to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. This City has too many unused and dangerous bike lanes. This must end.
    On just one stretch of a so-called protected bike lane in Clairemont at least one person has died and many critically injured. This must end. These lanes for cyclists have become de rigueur in the sense of being politically correct. But they are unwise and unsafe. Why doesn’t the City’s Climate Action Plan in regard to cycling consider that it takes human energy to pedal a two-wheeler? Have you ever heard of Henry Ford or the fact that cycling is touted as the sport of suffering? Listen, I’ve done hundreds of triathlons during the past forty plus years and maybe one of a half million residents have the will power to join me at the starting line. San Diego residents are unlike those in the Netherlands, China or India. We are rooted in a tough individualism. We want our cars and will not give up our cars.
    What does our city’s history say about cycling on local roads? I spoke to my friend Bob Babbitt recently, a giant among giants in this town’s triathlon community on the old days. Back in the late Seventies, cycling and running in San Diego were dominated by a select group of endurance athletes. Unlike today where five thousand and more trendy folks show up for a finishers medal, we had no entertainment value back in the day. It’s safe to say that most of these Johnny come lately runners and cyclists park their cars as close to the start line as possible. This ought to illustrate the devotion to cycling and running we had back forty years ago in San Diego.
    But most significant, were the fatalities from cycling and running. It was rare to hear about hit and run drivers and multitudes without a conscience. driving in bike lanes with disrespect. Unless these lanes are encased in concrete like a German bunker, we are in danger of bleeding the City’s liability fund. More residents will needlessly die and suffer serious injury. This must end.
    I remain a man devoted to my sport of cycling and running. Except I must conscientiously speak truth to power. Dan Smiechowski candidate Mayor of San Diego

  3. “Why didn’t the mayor attract a major opponent?” Why are you defining “major”? How do you define “major?” Is this what voters believe? If so, America is in very serios trouble. Dan Smiechowski candidate for San Deigo Mayor.

  4. From what I hear, San Diego’s Democratic Party plus Labor is a pretty tight group that has a lot of influence on who is green-lit to run for any given position, and those who act outside these groups’ “recommendations” risk losing support. This makes me wonder whether the fact that no one has declared a candidacy against Gloria is because no one has been green-lit to run against him.

  5. It’s shocking to me that no one wants to run against the worst Mayor in San Diego history.
    The Republican Party needs to wake up
    San Diego will be so dense after this guy is done it will be unlivable.
    Gloria is a developer puppet DINO fraud like the rest of the Democratic Party of California

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