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Erica Holloway

San Diego’s Mayor Race Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

The 2012 San Diego mayor’s race began like other love affairs – lots of hope and promise for the future. Then, the sparkle and shine of courtship faded quickly into the same old dull routine.

No more flowers. No more moonlight and love songs.

Seems I’m not the only one who noticed our romance is fading.

Even the candidates can’t muster the enthusiasm. Both Councilman Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis skipped a second, high-profile debate last week and the fall out has been notable.

One Rostra blogger called the no-show candidates “disappointing” while a San Diego Union-Tribune columnist floated the sweat-inducing idea of forcing all the candidates to participate in at least one debate.

[I witnessed what came close recently with all the D-List candidates spewing some of the most incoherent nonsense since Keith Richards got sober (kinda).]

Debate preparation weighs the need to communicate with fans versus pressing your luck in shark-infested waters.

Some campaigns require more dangerous swimming than others and I can think of no other office in the San Diego region that deals with more high-profile crisis than the mayor.

Excuses: DeMaio skipped because labor interests hosted the latest debate, and Dumanis skipped because she’s waiting until the filing deadline passes.

Whatever the reasons, I understand the desire for caution but running for mayor is just about the most rash course of action one might take.

It’s foolish to believe you can control as many factors as those one deals with in the mayoral fishbowl.

Everything from catastrophic wildfires to fiscal meltdowns to large-scale political nightmares – the mayor of San Diego deals with it all from all sides.

The same people who love you today hate you tomorrow.

These debates will rarely offer glimpses of “new” information. Debates retread platforms and those platforms, if genuine, will alter little between appearances. But what will change is the venue, the crowd, the host, and the moderator which offers a glimpse of the candidates under the white hot lights dealing with nerves, conflict and pressure.

Imagine telling a hiring committee you’re begging off on the interview because you aren’t feeling judge No. 3 – but you’d still like the job.

Debate after debate, what becomes evident is style and that separates the good-on-paper candidates from the real deals.

Perhaps we need to downgrade this relationship back down to “its complicated” and give it a few more rounds of dating.

No need to set a date just yet.

– Follow me @erica_holloway.

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3 Responses to “San Diego’s Mayor Race Relationship Status: It’s Complicated”

  1. Tom Kaptain Says:

    I think it is disrespectful to hold candidate forums before filing closes. There are at least a couple of other potential candidates in this race including one celebrity and one elected official and although I am skeptical that either of them run, the audiences that are deciding who to support should have a full chance to consider them also if they make that move. JMO!

  2. Erica Holloway Says:

    Dear Tom:

    Early bird gets the vote.



  3. Tom Kaptain Says:

    No. In the real world what happens is that candidates jump in and some people pull endorsements which leads to hard feelings all around. More importantly it changes the whole dynamic by putting pressure on groups and politically active individuals to endorse early, often cutting them off from candidates that might do more to advance the causes they believe in. Just as a quick example, when Ronald Reagan finally ran against Gerald Ford in 1976, he lost several key endorsements because he wasn’t sure if he would run and several close friends committed to Ford first. No group should ever commit before filing closes and any individual that does should only do so if they have a close personal friend or something like that in the race. These people are supposed to be competing for who can best represent their constituents, not the other way around.