Mike Schaefer, who was on the city council for two terms, 1965-1971, is running for office again. The perennial candidate in San Diego, Los Angeles, Nevada and elsewhere, is running for the Board of Equalization. His website says he will “Protect Prop. 13 and encourage common sense in government.” At age 80, he says he will serve a four-year term and is the “best educated, most experienced” candidate in the race. “I have signs out in every county — San Diego, Riverside, Orange — except Imperial. Going over to Brawley is a one-day trip,” he says. He adds laughingly, “If elected, I will put a valuation on Disneyland, and won’t have to wait in line.”
Earlier this year, he wanted to run for the District 54 State Assembly, but withdrew. “I would have to live in L.A. I’m having too much fun in San Diego and Ocean Beach. I can’t go into a restaurant without people knowing me,” he says. In 2017 he was a candidate for District 7 representative on the Los Angeles City Council but lost in the primary. He got 1.21 percent of the vote. In 2015, he ran in the primary for the District 4 Los Angeles City Council. Alas, he got 1.1 percent of the vote, third from the bottom among 14 candidates.
Schaefer campaigned for district attorney twice — “once in San Diego and once in San Francisco,” he says. He lost to Paul Pfingst in San Diego in 1994 and in 1999 to a Bay Area candidate who was against the death penalty. “He wouldn’t execute [cult leader] Charles Manson and others,” says Schaefer, who favors the death penalty in a number of instances.
He has been disbarred in Nevada. He was first disbarred in 2001 and four attempts for reinstatement have failed. The Nevada Bar says his misconduct involved “dishonesty, deceit, [and] fraud." Former Las Vegas Mafia lawyer and mayor, who once repressented former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgeock, stuck up for Schaefer in a reinstatement hearing, saying he has known him for 40 years and he is “a character I have admired."
Schaefer has owned real estate in several places. In 1986 his tenants were awarded $1.83 million in damages because he had them liviing in slum conditions. “That put me in bankruptcy. It was a humbling experience. Made me as poor as a journalist,” he says.
Schaefer ran for Congress against against the late Lionel Van Deerlin in 1968. Schaefer says he became a good friend of the Democrat Van Deerlin after the election. In that election, Schaefer ran as a Republican, but he has run under the wings of both parties.
When he tried to run for Nevada state controller in 2014, he was ruled off the ballot because he hadn’t lived in the state long enough, he complains. He also ran unsuccessfully for Las Vegas city council. “I ran against a football player and lost,” he explains. He ran for mayor of Palm Springs and lost.
He owned a Maryland hotel, named the Schaefer Hotel, which he had bought for $450,000, he says. He ran for Republican nomination for United States Senate in 1986, but knew he wouldn’t win. He told me in our interview that he had become a good friend of William Donald Schaefer, long-time mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland. He thought the name Schaefer would help him, he confessed. He became a good friend of the famous Schaefer, he boasts. He compares his strategy to that of former San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn. He won office because people confused him with the late baseball legend, Tony Gwynn.
The irony is that in June of last year, California lawmakers voted to strip the Board of Equalization of many of its powers.