San Diego City Council Member Gomez’ Big Announcement: Whatever Could It Be?

by on September 11, 2019 · 0 comments

in Election, San Diego

By Doug Porter / Words & Deeds / Sept. 11, 2019

Exactly nobody will be surprised on Saturday morning if District 9 San Diego City Council Georgette Gomez person announces she’s running for Congress.

I seriously doubt she’ll be announcing free parking for the Green Day/Weezer concert at Petco during next year’s ComicCon. Or that she’ll endorse Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson.

The 200 or so people who responded to the Facebook Event Announcement overnight certainly expect her to run. This is a Big Deal.

The not-expected letter from incumbent 53rd District Representative Susan Davis declaring her retirement at the end of this term has changed the 2020 election picture for San Diego.

Rep. Davis was popular for being good with services for constituents. Her record was strong on healthcare, education, and women’s issues, and demonstrated an awareness of the impact of the military and assorted defense industries in the 53rd.

Davis won re-election in 2018 by more than 100,000 votes, and no challenger has come close since she initially won the seat in 2002. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried the 53rd by more than 30 points.

Long-time political columnist Dan Walters noted the significance of the upcoming election at CalMatters:

  • As it happens, San Diego is in the midst of a political evolution. The city and the surrounding San Diego County have been politically conservative for most of its history, and the rural portions of the county still are. But the city has turned blue, thanks to a political awakening of its Latino population, organizational efforts by unions and demographic and economic changes…
  • …California’s cul-de-sac, as some term San Diego, will be a cauldron of high-stakes politics next year.

Democrats Joaquin Vasquez and Jose Caballero had already said they intended to challenge the incumbent. Caballero is openly running from the left, hoping for an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-style upset.

Sara Jacobs, the young Democrat who surprised observers by coming in third in last years 49th Congressional district primary, has jumped into the race, saying  this is an “all-hands-on-deck time” that calls for a new generation of leadership.

I will be devoting more space to discussing the backgrounds and positions of the candidates in this contest as we get closer to election day. (Voting starts February 3rd.)

The Union-Tribune’s Michael Smolens pointed out Jacob’s biggest asset: money. 

  • As with any open seat, the 53rd District has sparked a flurry of maneuvering and speculation. But the reality is unless lightning strikes a bunch of times, the district will remain in Democratic hands. Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump there by 35 points in 2016, and Davis was reelected in a walk last year.
  • That means fundraising is likely to be difficult because Democratic donors will want to focus their money on other partisan priorities: backing candidates in swing districts to hold the party’s majority in the House, pushing to gain control of the Senate and, most of all, winning back the White House.
  • That dynamic potentially gives a great advantage to Sara Jacobs, the wealthy granddaughter of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs who announced her candidacy on Saturday. Being able to largely self-finance a congressional campaign doesn’t guarantee success, but it could make a big difference amid fierce competition for campaign dollars. In addition to all of the higher priority candidate races at the local, state and national levels, numerous ballot measures will be sucking up campaign cash.

Council member Georgette Gomez’ entry into the primary race changes not only the dynamic of the contest in the 53rd, it will also have an impact on city politics.

As City Council Council President it’s her job to set the agenda, and Gomez has been widely praised for the ability to get things done, while standing firm on principles when needed.

After years of malaise, the Metropolitan Transit System board under her leadership is rethinking transportation policy and operations. And Gomez’ insistence on changes to housing policy could have a positive impact for years to come.

The biggest downside to her moving on to Congress would be finding a replacement with Gomez’ vision and temperament.

Given her popularity with local activists and a solid track record at City Hall, Gomez should be considered the strongest candidate at this point.

Anti-abortion activist Famela Ramos, the Republican party’s endorsed candidate for the Chula Vista Elementary Board of Education area 3 seat in 2018, has also announced her candidacy. She dropped a bid to challenge District 52 incumbent Rep. Scott Peters to enter this contest.

I’m sure there will be others who decide they’d like a chance to represent a solidly blue district, but would be surprised if any more candidates with significant name recognition emerge.

The 53rd Congressional district includes eastern portions of Chula Vista, western portions of El Cajon, central and eastern portions of the city of San Diego, as well as eastern suburbs such as Bonita, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley in their entirety.


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