Seeing the political handwriting on the wall and looking to make a graceful exit from San Diego’s District 1 City Council race, Republican businessman Ray Ellis has bowed out of the Nov. 8 runoff campaign.
Without a “viable path to victory”, Ellis said in a statement released to news outlets early Friday, “I cannot in good faith ask supporters to finance another effort.”
Ellis’ withdrawal assures a continuation of the Democrats’ 5-4 majority on the council into late 2018, barring unforeseen developments.
That balance of power in policy and lawmaking, is subject to mayoral vetoes that take six votes to override.
Ellis finished second nearly 15 points behind the frontrunner in the June primary, while spending about $200,000 -- almost twice as much money.
In announcing he was dropping out of the race, Ellis said he couldn't ask supporters to contribute more, given the district's heavy Democrat voter registration and "toxicity" of Donald Trump's Presidential candidacy.
He added that he could have “the greatest impact” serving as a community volunteer, focusing on homelessness, education, foster children and neighborhood issues.
Citing a family emergency on Friday, Ellis declined an NBC 7 interview request.
His Democratic rival, businesswomen Barbara Bry, said Ellis had asked her on Tuesday to meet with her Thursday afternoon at a Mission Valley campaign, and keep the their conversation confidential until Friday.
"He congratulated me on running a good campaign,” Bry told NBC 7. “He said he didn't see a path forward for him, and he thought it was in the best interest of everybody that he withdraw from the race."
But Ellis' name is still on the ballot, so Bry's campaign won't stop until election day, November 8th.
"I will continue to be visible in the community,” she noted, “talking to as many residents as possible to learn more about the district and the issues that are important to the voters here."
Now a question around City Hall is, who will become the next resident of the City Council -- a Democrat, obviously.
"This a big position,” says Voice of San Diego editor Scott Lewis, “and if it's used, if it's leveraged as much as it can be, it can be a very big check on the power of the mayor and the influence of the mayor."
Progressive David Alvarez, who's often at odds with Mayor Faulconer; and moderate Myrtle Cole, much less so.
Bry says she has more immediate priorities to focus on: "I've made no commitments to anybody about who I will vote for, for council president."
The only contested council campaign left is between two Democrats in District 9, where Ricardo Flores finished 3 and a half points ahead of second-place finisher Georgette Gomez in a four-way June primary race.