San Diego Mayoral Candidates Barbara Bry and Todd Gloria are frustrated over an influx of external messaging pouring into the race.
While officially a non-partisan race, the mayor’s race features two Democrats who are working to differentiate themselves.
For example, at the NBC 7 Mayoral Debate, State Assemblyman Gloria worked to tie Councilmember Bry to President Trump.
“My opponent often likes to talk about [housing affordability] in terms that are very similar to what the President likes to say about housing,” Gloria said, comparing Bry’s language on protecting neighborhoods to President Trump’s rhetoric on protecting suburbs. “And frankly we don’t need Donald Trump’s approach to housing here in San Diego.”
“I knew politics was bad,” responded Bry at the debate. “But I never expected that my opponent would exploit the deep divisions within our country to send mailers targeting Republicans telling them I’m too progressive, and ads targeting Democrats telling them I’m too conservative.”
And now both mayoral hopefuls now feel under siege by outside messages attacking their respective candidacies.
It’s true, dueling mailers have been sent out claiming Bry is both the “Republican Choice for Mayor,” and a politician with a “Progressive Record.”
Bry is not a Republican, nor has the Republican Party endorsed a candidate in this race.
But Gloria’s team did not send out these mailers. An independent expenditure outside group called the "Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor 2020” sent them.
“I think these mailers are very deceptive,” said Bry during a press conference Wednesday about the mailers. “They do not explain who I am as a person.”
Despite Bry’s objections to the mailers themselves, Republicans featured on the mailers do support her candidacy, and several GOPers reaffirmed as much during the same press conference.
“Every Republican should vote for Barbara Bry in the upcoming election,” said retired Judge Larry Stirling.
“You’ve got my whole hearted support as a Republican,” said Republican San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
“Whatever [Bry is] doing is certainly resonating with far right voters,” said Gloria in an interview with NBC 7.
“I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is appealing to the center of our community, and our fellow Democrats.”
So what’s happening here?
In March, Gloria won the primary in commanding fashion. But if you combine the votes Bry got with the votes the nearest Republican — San Diego City Councilmember Scott Sherman — got, their votes surpassed Gloria.
So the theory is Republicans who supported Sherman could be helpful to Bry, but tying Bry to the President or the far right could hurt her with Democrats or independents.
“I’ve built a broad coalition across the political spectrum, that I’m very honored to have,” said Bry when asked if she needs Republicans to win the mayor’s race.
Meanwhile, conservative radio host Carl DeMaio inserted himself into the mayoral race this week by attacking Gloria through text messages sent to San Diego voters through the Reform California political action committee.
DeMaio attacked Gloria over his vote for SB 145, a bill that would give judges discretion on sex offender registration in certain statutory rape cases. Many have falsely claimed the law legalizes pedophilia.
Gloria said Thursday the texts incited violence and threats against him, sharing graphic social media posts targeting the candidate. Gloria further said in part, “this is what Barbara Bry’s campaign is inspiring. Her campaign is bringing out the worst of who we are.”
DeMaio told NBC 7 despite his messages attacking Gloria, they do not reflect an endorsement of Bry.
Bry said she was not aware of DeMaio’s texts prior to them being sent out, and had nothing to do with them.
In her own Thursday evening statement, Bry wrote, “Violence and threats of violence have no place in a civil society, and we must all condemn anyone who promotes such activity.”
Adding, “However, it’s outrageous that Todd Gloria is blaming me while his supporters are promoting political ads that have resulted in numerous personal threats against me and my campaign.”
But during an age of rampant misinformation and outside influence in elections, more controversies are almost guaranteed in this high profile mayoral race.