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The district attorney already is the most powerful politician in
town. Why does she want to be mayor?
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis officially has entered the wide-open race for the city’s mayor in 2012. One of the best early questions for her is, why?
In her current office, she’s built herself into San Diego’s most powerful politician. As mayor, and even as a mayoral candidate, she’ll take on considerably more public scrutiny and inherit a city that has run budget deficits for a decade.
Dumanis told me it’s not about leaving her current job.
“I think the city is facing challenges right now and as I’ve spoken to people, we’ve talked about that I have something to offer,” said Dumanis, a Republican.
What she has to offer, she said, is experience as an executive, running a major office with a substantial budget. That’s what the city needs, she said.
What she doesn’t have to offer is experience with the city and its budget problems. Just yesterday, a task force of local business leaders released a scathing report saying San Diego needed immediate action on its “fiscal crisis.” The city’s deficit, the task force said, is $130 million.
Dumanis said she’s spoken “at great length” with the task force’s head, Vince Mudd, and has met with various others about city finances. She plans to continue doing that. But she doesn’t intend to release details about her plan to fix the city’s budget problems for a while. She doesn’t want to interfere with current discussions.
“The mayor is working hard, the City Council is working hard and I would like them to continue to work hard,” Dumanis said. “I would like nothing better than to have them to reach some consensus.”
Dumanis will have to walk a fine line during the race. She and current Mayor Jerry Sanders have a strong relationship, and she’ll likely be seeking his endorsement. But she’ll have to talk in great detail about her plan to fix the city’s finances. At the least, that would be an implicit criticism that the mayor hasn’t done it.
I asked for her evaluation of Sanders’ tenure.
“I think the current mayor has done a good job in bringing things forward,” she said. “I think there’s more to be done.”
A few other mayoral campaign-related notes:
• Dumanis, like any other candidate, can’t fundraise until June — a year before the mayoral primary. But she is allowed to spend her own money. Dumanis is not allowed to roll over any of the $42,000 she has left in her district attorney campaign account until June, either.
• Dumanis has hired Democratic consultant Jennifer Tierney to head her campaign team. Tierney has a long history with Dumanis, but she has worked for City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a potential candidate, as well. Tierney had a strong campaign cycle in 2008, backing winners Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner in City Council races. This past campaign, not so much. She worked on the city’s failed Proposition D sales tax campaign, and for losing candidates Howard Wayne (City Council) and Stephen Whitburn (county supervisor).
• Republican state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, also a potential candidate, could be the next major domino to fall in the race. In the last few weeks, Fletcher has held press conferences with Republicans Dumanis and county Supervisor Bill Horn and Democratic school board president Richard Barrera. Fletcher’s scheduled to speak to a tea party group in Rancho Bernardo this evening. Fletcher and Dumanis, both centrist Republicans who generally have the backing of downtown establishment-types, could be competing for the same slice of the vote.
• For those on Twitter, here are the handles of various candidates or potential candidates: Dumanis (@BonnieDumanis), Fletcher (@nathanfletcher), Faulconer (@kevin_faulconer), City Councilman Carl DeMaio (@carldemaio), former City Attorney Mike Aguirre (@julessan1) and Congressman Bob Filner (@bobfilner). If anyone knows other names, please leave them in the comments section.