Just a week before Election Day and three weeks after voters received mail-in ballots, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has endorsed Councilman Carl DeMaio over Rep. Bob Filner in the race to be San Diego’s next mayor.
After finishing in fourth place in the June mayoral primary, Dumanis had said she’d stay out of the general election. On Monday, she said she loved San Diego too much to do so any longer.
“I know Bob Filner,” she said. “I know he is disruptive, disrespectful and demeaning, especially to women.”
Her comments throughout the endorsement news conference referred repeatedly to Filner’s treatment of women, but DeMaio denied his campaign was using the endorsement as a play for female support.
“I don’t have a gender-specific policy,” DeMaio said.
Nonetheless, Dumanis frequently framed her endorsement as a response to Filner’s lack of respect for women.
Filner has led among female voters in two of the three public polls that reported responses by gender. A simple average of the three sets of results gives Filner a 5-point lead among women, 43 percent to 38 percent, with 18 percent remaining undecided.
Dumanis said she’s uniquely aware of Filner’s treatment of women because she was subjected to it during the primary, when he treated her differently than DeMaio or Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
“He was dismissive when he spoke to me, and very rarely did he speak to me,” she said. “He was condescending, he was arrogant and he was a bully.”
The case that DeMaio’s campaign is aggressively courting female voters is buoyed by an ad it released last week attacking Filner for an altercation he had with a female TSA agent five years ago.
The ad features the woman involved in the altercation speaking directly to the camera, on the verge of tears, but noticeably makes no attempt to explain the incident. Instead, she says his hostility and aggressiveness scared her, and that she couldn’t believe he was a Congressman.
Dumanis also referenced the ad during her endorsement remarks.
The ad also plays to a more general criticism DeMaio’s campaign has leveled at Filner: that his temperament makes him unfit to serve in public office.
Filner responded to the news with a list of his endorsers.
“What’s most significant here is not who has endorsed DeMaio, it’s who has NOT endorsed him,” Filner wrote in a statement. “Not one of the five Republican members of the board of supervisors; not the Republican Sheriff; not the Republican treasurer; not five of his colleagues on the City Council. The law enforcement community, of which Dumanis is a part, the police officers and deputy sheriffs, is 100 percent supporting my candidacy, as are the major women’s groups and most women elected officials in San Diego.”
In 2007, Dumanis made a public pledge not to endorse candidates except in extraordinary circumstances or matters of public safety because she feared her office being used as a political pawn.
Just a few weeks ago, she endorsed DeMaio’s education plan, but steadfastly refused to do the same for the candidate himself. Even then, she said she planned to stay out of the race.
She decided to support her fellow Republican because he had maintained a more mayoral disposition, she said, and she expects the next mayor to continue the path laid by Mayor Jerry Sanders, who supported her failed mayoral bid and who she considers a close friend.
Sanders recently endorsed DeMaio, putting aside a lengthy list of political disagreements the two have had.
In the closing weeks of the mayoral primary, Dumanis became increasingly combative in debates toward Filner and also Fletcher, who earlier in the spring left the Republican Party to run as an independent.
Local pundits speculated that with polls showing little chance of victory, Dumanis struck a deal with the local GOP to help DeMaio by attacking his two biggest threats in exchange for support in her next district attorney campaign.
On Monday, Dumanis denied those rumors.
“Absolutely false,” she said. “I was more aggressive in the campaign because the two people pulling from me were Filner and (Fletcher).”