San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, widely considered a shoo-in for reelection this year, has picked up a well-known left-of-center opponent in the form of ex-assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, according to a January 22 candidacy intention statement on file with the city clerk.
Reached by phone, campaign treasurer Simon Mayeski said Saldaña’s official kick-off is set for this coming Thursday, January 28, at the Grassroots Oasis, 3130 Moore Street, in the Midway District.
Termed out of the legislature in 2012, Saldaña took on wealthy ex–San Diego city councilman Scott Peters in a bitter battle for the 52nd congressional seat then held by Republican Brian Bilbray.
Liberal Super PAC Progressive Kick ran attack ads going after Peters, the eventual victor, for flip-flopping on his backing of entitlement programs, a charge denied by Peters aide Mary Anne Pintar.
San Diego residents Lawrence and Suzanne Hess, owners of Lehbros Limited real estate firm, have given a total of $130,000 to the liberal super PAC.
For his part, Peters was endorsed by then-congressman Bob Filner.
“Congressman Filner’s endorsement was a great surprise, and a tremendous honor,” said Peters in May 2012 statement. “Bob has been a forceful advocate for our region, for our veterans, for civil rights and for Democratic causes throughout his esteemed career in public service.”
During the sexual harassment scandal that brought down Filner as San Diego mayor in the summer of 2013, Saldaña told KGTV TV news that she had warned Democratic party official Jess Durfee about previous sexual harassment allegations against Filner:
"Not taking no for an answer when he wanted to ask someone out," she said of the embattled mayor.
"Getting a little too close into their personal space."
Party chair Francine Busby told the station: "Jess Durfee did follow up. He asked Lori to have the women contact him personally, so he could follow up, and none of the women did."
Though currently regarded by many as unbeatable, a grassroots candidacy against Faulconer might cast a growing light on the close ties of the mayor and his political aides to hotel owners and an array of other special interests who are funding what is shaping up as a multimillion dollar campaign to keep him in office.
UPDATE 1/25 3:20 p.m.
Saldaña has said she changed her registration to no preference in 2014.