Campbell’s Claims of High Cost for Recall Misleading

by on March 5, 2021 · 6 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Apparently, the so-called high costs of a recall campaign pushed by Jen Campbell and her supporters are misleading. Campbell and the contra-recall consultants have been propagating the figure of $2 million for any possible recall.

But according to a story by David Garrick in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune, city officials and the County Registrar of Voters are pushing back on that price tag. Campbell & Associates have been claiming their number was based on an email from a Registrar official in February. City and registrar folks are saying that $2 million number was the high end of a “rough cost projection” subject to many variables and many unknowns – known and unknown.

Garrick reports that Liliana Lau, a registrar official, wrote the following in an email to Campbell’s staff on February 8:

“Without the specificity required, there is too broad of a cost range to make an appropriate projection. A rough cost projection based on prior elections that were similar on size is approximately $1.6 million to $2 million.”

Garrick noted Lau underlined and italicized the word “rough.” He reported:

The registrar’s initial estimate was based partly on a November 2017 special election in Poway that cost $408,000, and a May 2019 special election in Solana Beach that cost $182,000. During those elections, Poway had 29,335 registered voters and Solana Beach had 9,174 registered voters. San Diego’s District 2 has 96,109 registered voters as of Monday.

Special elections typically cost much more than primaries or general elections, because costs for printing and poll workers can’t be shared with the county, state and federal government, which wouldn’t have any candidates or measures on a Campbell recall ballot — except a possible Newsom recall. The signature gathering deadline is March 17 for the Newsom recall. Costs for a Campbell recall would be lower if both recalls were on the same ballot.

To bolster the “rough” part of any recall cost estimate, Garrick reported, “In a follow-up email to the Union-Tribune this week, interim registrar Cynthia Paes reiterated that last month’s projection was based on limited information and noted that it also included several assumptions.”

Garrick also added, “Diana Fuentes, the city’s deputy director of elections, agreed with the registrar that coming up with a solid cost estimate for the recall is not possible at this time. ‘There is too broad of a cost range to make an appropriate projection,’ she said this week.”

Okay, what are all these variables and assumptions?

  • every registered voter in District 2 would get a ballot in the mail,
  • there would be at least 10 mail ballot drop-off locations with staffing,
  • polling places would have four workers and be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day;
  • an assumption that only four candidates would appear on the recall ballot as possible replacements for Campbell – yet filing to appear as a candidate hasn’t begun and there is no limit on the number of candidates. Democrat Loxie Grant and Republican Adam Huntington have announced plans to run;
  • Election costs can change based on a variety of factors, such as cost of paper, printing, processing, etc,
  • costs can change based on the number of registered voters and the amount of pages the sample ballot may be;
  • the potential impact of COVID-19 on voting, and
  • whether the Campbell recall could be combined with a recall against Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Campbell supporters have been obviously claiming the $2 million figure as a way to dissuade people from backing the recall. Dan Rottenstreich, one of the contra-recall consultants, said a recall election would be too expensive regardless of the variables. “No matter how many millions of dollars this unnecessary recall election costs, it’s an irresponsible waste of taxpayer money with the city facing a massive budget deficit caused by COVID-19,” he said. Rottensreich is the partner of Bridget Browning, the head of the union that signed on to Campbell’s proposed short-term vacation rental ordinance.

These are clearly misleading claims. (Did you see how Rottensreich threw an “s” behind “million”? ) Supporters of the recall are not happy with the high-end cost figure when the actual cost is much more iffy and uncertain.

Recall supporters have until early June to collect more than 14,000 signatures from registered voters in District 2. If they are successful, the recall election would likely take place in late November or early December 2021.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas March 5, 2021 at 10:57 am

Simply put. Campbell’s team has most likely done polling. She is in trouble. Chaos and scare tactics all she and her contributors have left to get the 30 foot height limit removed in Midway district. This recall affects the entire city. It as a precursor to remove the height limits all over the city. Campbell is the developers’ candidate not the neighborhoods friend.

She lied repeatedly during her campaign about protecting the 30′ height limit. Surely, it is past time to serve up some consequences for her actions. The Trump era should have taught us all something.

There should be consequences!


John Thickstun March 5, 2021 at 11:32 am

On top of all the other lies she’s told her constituents, now – with an assist from her recall consultant, Dan Rottenstreich – she’s lied in her recall petition statement saying in the very first sentence in capital letters, “RECALL ELECTION WILL COST TAXPAYERS $2 MILLION”.
When does it stop?
When she’s recalled.


Geoff Page March 5, 2021 at 12:13 pm

There is an easy way to save all that expense. Resign.


Frank J March 5, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Geoff- Best idea yet. If 96,109 registered voters get a mail ballot, can this be restricted to mail ballots only, and save the polling place costs? Works in Oregon. She likes to mention how important being a Doctor is & that her leadership during the pandemic crisis is vital for the city. Really? Mask up, keep distance, get a vaccine. Call me Doctor!


Douglas Blackwood March 5, 2021 at 7:38 pm

Liar, liar: pants on fire! To resign would be the honorable thing to do; but is Jen honorable? Jen,Please do the right thing: RESIGN!
Jen, You picked the wrong District to try and fool. Guess she didn’t realize OB has a long history of activism.
Jen, “you gotta go go go- goodbye >


Gary Wonacott March 8, 2021 at 6:45 am

No matter the cost of the recall, it will be far less expensive that the cost of wasted monies the taxpayers will pay for Campbell’s future debackles.


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