In a show of political force that attracted the attention of many passersby, the county's district attorney, sheriff and several leading law enforcement groups gathered Wednesday to announce their endorsements of Summer Stephan in the 2018 D.A.’s race.
Stephan is chief deputy of the district attorney’s office, having handled more than 100 jury trials in 24 years as a prosecutor.
If her boss, Bonnie Dumanis, retires early before her fourth term ends next year, she could be expected to recommend that county supervisors appoint Stephan interim D.A.
”I know the job very well,” Dumanis told news reporters from the steps of downtown’s Hall of Justice on Wednesday. “And I'm confident that our county will be in great hands with Summer at the helm."
“What’s so special about Summer is that she never forgets the victims of the crimes she’s prosecuting,” said San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.
Dozens of prosecutors and other Stephan supporters turned out for the early campaign event -- which had the look of a pre-emptive strike to discourage others from challenging Stephan.
So far she's the only declared candidate for D.A.
And political insiders aren't yet hearing of other likely possibilities with the credentials and financial resources to give her major competition.
Stephan has an extensive background in prosecuting homicides, sex crimes and human trafficking cases. For four years, she headed the north county branch of the district attorney’s office.
"To the ones who want to be out there preying on our kids and families, I say think again,” Stephan said. “Look behind me and look at this shield and armor of law enforcement that is ready to come after you."
Speculation about Dumanis' political future after retiring as D.A. centers on the County Board of Supervisors.
The 4th District seat will be vacant when Ron Roberts "terms out" after next year.
A possible opponent who’s been mentioned?
Former state assemblyman and San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher.