Sheriff Bill Kolender has thrown the race for his successor into a tizzy by deciding to resign on July 2, giving his support as expected to Undersheriff Bill Gore, an ex–FBI agent who enjoys the backing of San Diego’s big-money insiders. Word on the street has it that the Gore succession plan was hatched well before Kolender’s 2006 reelection; among his incentives to leave office were promises of well-paying corporate board seats. The 73-year-old sheriff confirmed the possibility of the board appointments during an interview with the Union-Tribune last week but didn’t say who was interested in his services.
Suspicions grew even further when the U-T, in the last throes of ownership by David Copley’s Copley Press, editorialized that the county board of supervisors should swiftly appoint a replacement and “let the political cards play out as they may.” Though the U-T didn’t mention its preferred candidate, those were seen as code words of support for Gore, who hopes to run for the job next year as the incumbent, giving him a virtually insurmountable advantage over a field that includes ex–GOP assemblyman and former undersheriff Jay La Suer; sheriff’s lieutenant Jim Duffy (now on leave to work for Supervisor Ron Roberts); ex–San Diego chief of police David Bejarano; and retired deputy sheriff Bruce Ruff, a perennial candidate for the job.
Gore has been busy raising money from the usual bunch of downtown kingmakers, including Mission Valley hotelier C. Terry Brown; port commissioner Stephen Cushman; his brother Larry Cushman; ex–city schools chief and airport board chairman Alan Bersin; Bersin crony William D. Lynch of Rancho Santa Fe; real estate mogul Malin Burnham; Cloud 9 president John Hawkins; and onetime Pepsi bottler Frank Alessio. … Speaking of campaign cash, Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox, along with councilmembers Pamela Bensoussan and Rudy Ramirez, is throwing a no-limit “Fundraising Cocktail Reception” on April 23 for Proposition A, the May ballot measure that would boost the city’s sales tax 1 percent for ten years, to 9.75 percent. The party is being held in the downtown San Diego offices of Gafcon, Inc., a construction firm that has been a big player in Chula Vista redevelopment projects, subsidized by taxpayers.