San Diego's mayoral race is down to a handful of days before the June 5th primary election, and attacks among the four major candidates are furiously ramping up.
After almost a year of campaigning and a homestretch full of nasty broadcast commercials and mailers, the virtues of patience and diplomacy seem to be wearing thin.
Today, in what may have been their most raucous matchup of the election cycle, the quartet took part in a Mission Valley debate sponsored by the San Diego Association of Realtors, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and Lincoln Club
An audience of several hundred, most quite familiar with the issues and personalities, enjoyed a lot of laugh lines and sharp exchanges.
Get to know San Diego's mayoral candidates before hitting the voting booth: Click here for a voter's guide to the candidates, their experience and their campaigns.
"You are elected to do a job, and you haven't been doing your job since January of this year," Dumanis told Fletcher, drawing whoops and cheers from supporters in the gathering.
"And Bob," she continued, gesturing at U.S. Rep Bob Filner, "let me be equal opportunity. You haven't been doing your job either. In fact, you didn't even vote on the budget that's before Congress in Washington."
Not yet finished, Dumanis spun around to address Councilman Carl Demaio.
"Carl," she said, "since I'm not equal opportunity, you could've gotten it done if you had the relationships at City Hall to get it done."
Fletcher was granted time to respond.
"You know," he began, looking out over the audience, "I haven't had one constituent -- who isn't on this stage -- who has come up and complained about my record of success and hard work in Sacramento."
Dumanis was quick on the uptake: "So you're saying, you admit though, Nathan, that you've missed 70 percent of the time since January."
Said Fletcher: "All right, let's go into this. Let's be honest about what we're talking about here. A week before an election, and how do we twist something? Seventy percent of the time includes days there were no votes, no committees. And had I gone, we'd be sitting here asking 'Why are you wasting taxpayer funds to go up there when nothing happens'?"
"Your job is to legislate!" Dumanis replied, forcefully.
"Your job is to get things done!" Fletcher fired back, listing his role in several legislative successes before he was cut off by the moderator for going over his time limit.
In the debate's aftermath, audience members left smiling and buzzing about the lively back-and-forth among the candidates.
"There was a lot of urgency and intensity," said political consultant John Dadian, who's not involved in the campaign. "They all were trying to be a combination of Jay Leno and Babe Ruth, trying to hit it out of the park."
This was the 23rd and next-to-the-last debate in a schedule of 24.
The final match-up, tomorrow evening, is sponsored by La Raza Lawyers Association.
Questions will focus on immigration, healthcare, justice and other issues that organizers say "uniquely affect" San Diego's Latino community.
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