The congressional campaign for San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez accused the campaign of Sara Jacobs of intentionally boosting a Republican candidate to keep two Democrats from advancing to the November run-off.
“It’s pretty low when a Democratic candidate actually goes out of their way to highlight a Republican candidate,” said Jess Durfee speaking for the Gomez campaign Thursday, shortly before the campaign filed a formal FEC complaint against Jacobs’ campaign.
California has a so-called “jungle primary” system where all voters can participate and the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to a runoff in November.
With Democrats outnumbering Republicans nearly 2 to 1 in the 53rd district, it would not be surprising if two Democrats advanced to the general election.
The Gomez campaign argues Jacobs is elevating a Republican in hopes of facing an easier challenge in November than she might against a fellow Democrat.
“What [Jacobs] has done is select the one Republican in the field to highlight in order to concentrate the Republican votes for that candidate,” argued Durfee.
“Clearly to boost that candidate to secure him a second-place spot on the ballot,” he said.
The Gomez team frustration began earlier in the week when the Jacobs campaign started airing TV ads featuring Republican Airline Pilot Chris Stoddard.
Stoddard has admittedly raised little money and has low name recognition, but the Republican placed second behind Jacobs in a local district poll with 10% of the vote.
“I didn’t initially understand why I was the one that was on there,” Stoddard told NBC 7 speaking of the TV ad, which calls him and Jacobs the two “leading candidates for congress.”
“I was like 'wow this is great!'” he added, “I was like 'thanks for the free advertising!'”
But the Gomez team’s cries were louder Thursday when a series of illegal anonymous mailers in support of Stoddard began to flood the district.
Per FEC rules, mailers must have disclosures stating who paid for them.
Stoddard told NBC 7 he did not pay for them.
Without concrete evidence, Gomez’s team accused Jacobs or a Jacobs-supporting PAC of sending them out.
“This mailing follows the TV buy which is paid for by Sara Jacobs…so you can connect those dots,” said Durfee.
Both the Jacobs campaign and Forward CA—an independent expenditure funded in part by Jacobs’ grandfather former Qualcomm chairman Irwin Jacobs—deny sending the mailers.
In a statement provided to NBC 7, Jacobs Campaign Spokesperson Morgan Hill wrote:
“This mailer did not come from our campaign and we don’t know who sent it. This is the type of silly, baseless attack you often see right before Election Day and voters are tired of it. Quite frankly, we expect better from fellow Democrats. Sara will stay focused on talking to voters about what she will do to make their lives better, as she has been doing throughout this campaign.”
Nevertheless, the Gomez campaign filed an FEC complaint accusing team Jacobs of engaging in “deceptive advertising to boost Jacobs’ Republican opponent, Stoddard, in an underhanded attempt to manipulate the election and deceive San Diegans’ into voting for a Republican.”
Durfee is doubtful any resolution will come from the FEC in time for the March 3rd Primary.
Either way, Stoddard is happy.
“I have no idea who sent [the mailer] out, but again, free advertising,” he said.