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Brewer wants to take politics out of DA's office

San Diego attorney Bob Brewer is trying his best to unseat three-term incumbent San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in June's primary election.

Two years ago, however, he was one of her biggest supporters — for mayor.

"I hoped she became the mayor because she didn't want to be the DA," Brewer said during a meeting with The Daily Transcript editorial board this week. "And there's nothing worse than having someone as a DA that doesn't want to be the DA.

"She didn't make that decision [to run for mayor] in 70 days. She knew the minute she was taking that oath to be DA that she was going to run for mayor. That never should be allowed to happen with a public servant. She crossed the line."

Brewer, who contributed to her mayoral campaign, finally decided to take action shortly after she finished fourth in the primary and Dumanis announced she'd seek re-election as district attorney.

"When she said she's going to run again, that's when I said, 'Not alone,'" Brewer said.

Terri Wyatt, who spent 26 years as a deputy district attorney in San Diego, also is running in the district attorney race.

Brewer, who has never before run for office, is pinning his hopes on the voters seeing Dumanis as a politician and not a lawyer. His campaign slogan is "Public Safety Without Politics."

A prosecutor in Los Angeles before turning to private practice, Brewer said Dumanis has repeatedly politicized the office of district attorney. The latest example, he says, is her alleged call in 2005 to the mayor of Chula Vista, seeking a city council appointment for one of her aides.

"Those types of calls are absolutely out of bounds for a district attorney," Brewer said, "and that's the type of thing I will never do.

"By far the most important, powerful person that anyone can elect in this county is the district attorney, and the district attorney should not have a political agenda."

Brewer, 68, has been in private practice for the past 32 years. He said he wants to end his career as district attorney, which he plans to hold for a maximum of two terms. He said the position should have a term limit of three.

"I want to give back, and I believe my training and my experience have been preparing me for this job," he said. "And it's time for a new district attorney. No one's going to influence me because I'm never going to run for another office."

Brewer spent four years in the U.S. Army infantry, including 15 months in Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, two Air Medals and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Brewer, who was a company commander and an operations officer, said his military experience relates to running the office of district attorney.

"The military experience is a huge plus in organizational leadership, understanding the use of middle managers, identifying the best people, delegating responsibility," he said. "It all comes back to leadership I learned in the infantry."

He later spent five years in the Army Reserves before graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1975.

Brewer then served as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles for 2½ years and as an assistant U.S. attorney for 4½ years, including a stint as assistant chief of the criminal division. He moved to San Diego in 1982 and began his career in private practice, focusing on civil litigation as well as criminal defense.

He co-founded the San Diego law firm Chapin & Brewer in 1987 and served as managing partner of the San Diego office of McKenna & Cueno (now McKenna Long & Aldridge) for 19 years. Most recently he was partner-in-charge of Jones Day's San Diego office.

Brewer said Dumanis was unable to get the support of law enforcement during her last re-election campaign even though she ran unopposed — and he saw that as an opportunity.

He has spent the past year getting to know local law enforcement, riding with police in 12 different agencies on nearly two dozen occasions.

The time in the saddle has paid off. Brewer has won the endorsement of 21 law enforcement agencies, including Deputy Sheriff's Association of San Diego County, the San Diego Police Officers Association and the Southern California Alliance of Law Enforcement.

Brewer said his top priority, if elected, will be helping to stop elder abuse. He said he will assign five deputy district attorneys and 10 investigators to an elder abuse task force.

"It is an area that is crying out for folks," he said. "We're going to increase the visibility of it. We're going to have outreach programs. We're going to educate people (and) if you see the signs of elder abuse, let us know because we're going to take care of the seniors in this town."

A cancer survivor who went through six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiation, Brewer also said he supports the medicinal use of marijuana.

He said he would have considered using marijuana if it would have helped with "the incredible side effects that I had."

"There are a lot of sick people out there who want a doctor-determined recommendation that they should have access to marijuana," he added. "I believe they should have access to it. That's the law."

He said his experience as a criminal defense attorney will make him a better prosecutor.

"I know how they (criminal defense attorneys) think; I know how they strategize," he said. "I have been on all sides, on all types of cases."

Related content:

Interview with DA candidate Robert Brewer (video)

Dumanis' actions in Chula Vista case questioned

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