Like sands through the hourglass, this is our 2012 Mayoral

The mayor’s race is getting a lot more clear now that we’ve entered the one-year window for fundraising, so like all good blogs with endless cyberpages to fill, it’s time to once again delve into the horse race.

Carl DeMaio fumbled the start a bit with at least a significant technology gaffe and perhaps a violation of campaign finance rules. Either way, the messaging in response has been all over the map, and hasn’t projected a campaign that’s ready to roll. That said, he’s planning 25 fundraising events in 23 days, has done more than every other contender here combined on the grassroots outreach front, and is serious about the shoe-leather side of campaigning.

Where he trips up is the year of living dangerously he’s apparently arranged with ethics. His partner is publishing puffy, press-releasey paeans at SDGLN without any disclosure of the personal relationship. DeMaio’s campaign website is posting the Roadmap to Recovery as “Carl’s…plan” after he paid for it with taxpayer dollars through his council office. After calling “absurd” the idea that DeMaio’s website language was soliciting funds, the site re-launched with the exact same donation and fundraising language.

Is any of it illegal? If at all, it’s barely. But is it unethical? All of it. The ongoing dance with the ethical dark side usually catches up to politicians, especially in a high-pressure campaign. We’ll see if it catches up with DeMaio.

Nathan Fletcher surprised nobody that I know of when he declared his mayoral intentions over the weekend as well. It went more smoothly than DeMaio’s launch (though Fletcher hasn’t given as many people a reason to watch closely), and he kicked things off hosted by a big-time funder of the national GOP who also ponied up $25K to Steve Poizner’s ill-fated run for Governor. A good place to start. Ties through his wife to big-time state donors will help in the crush of candidates seeking local money, but will also reinforce Fletcher as San Diego’s very own potential Schwarzenegger — not exactly the best image given Schwarzenegger’s record wrestling with budget problems.

He’s deftly sidestepped the pension issue for the time-being, but between his wife’s deep Schwarzenegger connections and role as middle-man for the late-night Chargers boondoggle attempt he’ll need to find some way to overcome the perception that he’s too easily influenced by outside interests. And if he does that, he’ll have to explain the never-ending budget debacle in Sacramento with something more compelling than “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.

Bonnie Dumanis has been less visible, or at least less talked about, than the other Republicans in the race. As Erica Holloway notes, Dumanis fits the mold of Jerry Sanders and faces similar challenges in transitioning from law and order to the full gamut of the city’s issues. And it’s not exactly a foregone conclusion that four more years of Sanders is a good pitch.

But she got a boost today when downtown Councilmember Kevin Faulconer not only opted out of his own mayoral run, but endorsed Dumanis. It’s a none-too-subtle rejection of DeMaio, with whom Faulconer is pushing comprehensive pension reform on next year’s ballot. Faulconer’s statement wasn’t very subtle either:

She has the right approach. We’re not going to agree on everything, but she has the ability to bring people together from both sides of the political aisle and get things done.

Specifically, Dumanis opposes CPR, which is pretty much DeMaio’s entire mayoral platform and screams “I love pension reform and I’m still not voting DeMaio.” And while Carl DeMaio may be many things to many people, nobody’s mistaking him for a consensus builder who can bring people together from across the aisle. The endorsement also comes a day after Faulconer’s communications director was attacking a city hall reporter over disclosure issues related to pension reform. He’s remained silent so far on SDGLN’s lack of DeMaio-disclosure, suggesting that pensions come before mayoral jockeying.

Christine Kehoe has begun exploring a mayoral run, though she’s been a presumptive candidate by race-watchers for a while. She’s represented a large chunk of the city for many years at the council, assembly, and state senate levels. She’s made a lot of friends (and friends with money) in her rise to State Senate leadership, and as with Fletcher a lot of high-profile endorsers may wait in the wings. She’ll be forced to answer tough questions regarding her role in the city’s pension troubles, but nobody else in the race can point to a record of solving those problems. It remains to be seen (if she gets in) how well Kehoe can handle these questions and redirect to her legislative record.

Last but not least is the mostly-in-but-not-quite Bob Filner. He mostly got in back in March, and now appears set to make it officially official tomorrow. Breathless reporting of Filner’s new voter registration inside the city notwithstanding, this hasn’t really been in doubt for months. Filner’s stint on the City Council from 1987-1992 gives him some bona fides, but it’s now been 20 years since Filner has represented a significant portion of the city or involved himself at all in city issues. He’ll presumably have access to plenty of money after 30 years in various elected offices, but will need to re-introduce himself to both the people and the problems in San Diego. And aside from Susan Davis, it remains to be seen how much star power he’ll be able to import from the federal level.

by Lucas O’Connor

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