Part one of a five-part series.
Sheriff Bill Kolender walked into Thornton Hospital in La Jolla two years ago to visit District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ dying father. In one of the sheriff’s signature moves, he removed his silver-star lapel pin, leaned over Abe Dumanis and attached it to the beaming 82-year-old’s hospital gown.
“Don’t worry,” the sheriff told him. “I’m going to take care of your daughter.”
And he has. No matter that years ago Kolender endorsed Dumanis’ opponent, incumbent Paul Pfingst, in the 2002 election.
The immensely popular sheriff and the new district attorney went on to create a political and personal liaison like no other — one that has elevated Dumanis to the highest level of political power in San Diego County and could catapult her into the San Diego Mayor’s Office or beyond.
Kolender’s recent retirement means the woman who began her legal career as a typist in the office she now runs is arguably the county’s most adept and influential politician.