by Lucas O’Connor / Two Cathedrals / Posted on May 7, 2011
It was perhaps with a certain perverse pleasure that political watchers in San Diego ([including Two Cathedrals] pounced in late March on Congressman Bob Filner’s seemingly accidental entrance into the mayor’s race. Not only was it easy to comment on—it was anything to comment on in the decidedly un-fun wasteland of redevelopment, budget cuts and pension reform.
While that buzz died down rather quickly (mostly after Filner’s office refused to talk to anybody about it on any level), the other leading contender on the Democratic side for mayor—state Sen. Christine Kehoe—has begun almost mirror-image stealth preparations for a possible run. Two Facebook pages have been combined to one and @ChristineKehoe first tweeted to the world on April 20.
So far, it’s been the prescribed mix for any office-holder lining up for an election: legislation, honoring local groups, and personal/professional events. That could mean any number of things, but the new social-media direction hasn’t been substantively connected (a few mentions) with the ongoing wrangling over Kehoe’s SB468 bill dealing with the future of I-5 through North County. And it hasn’t seemed to be coupled with new life for her(never designed for a truly competitive race anyways), which has been dormant apparently since the end of the 2008 cycle.
Kehoe doesn’t have the clearest path in the world to the top of the muddled mayor’s race, but as more candidates jockey for position in an open field, anything could happen. The rumor that Kehoe may be ascending to Senate leadership in Sacramento would provide a second avenue, but this isn’t the likely framework to simply stay in place with added responsibilities.
At some point, all the pent-up speculation is going to let loose, and the race won’t be an increasingly shrill Carl DeMaio and an increasingly silent and absent Bonnie Dumanis. San Diego’s electoral power structure may be influential, but it isn’t very large. There are only so many people or groups with influence and support to offer, and potential candidates who delay may find themselves without a chair before the music even starts.
We’ve seen a wide sampling of how to begin a campaign for mayor already this cycle. DeMaio has barnstormed around town with his “career-politician-turned-outsider,” hyper-austerity pitch. Dumanis announced and promptly set about doing nothing. Filner sort of announced then self-consciously disappeared. Kehoe is building up some initial infrastructure for something, which certainly seems to at least be more deliberate than other aspirants that we’ve seen thus far.