Chula Vista’s election primary has been low-key. Most candidates have compiled modest campaign contributions and campaign mailers have been, for the most part, innocuous.
One factor in the minor-key campaigning is that a candidate can no longer win flat-out in the primary. The two highest vote-getters for the mayoral seat and council seats one and two will advance to the November general election.
This factor translates to candidates guarding their resources. It also has meant that some Chula Vista yards sport signs for two candidates for the same seat.
If money alone were to win a mayoral position, Jerry Rindone would take the June election. He has collected $50,548, followed by Mary Salas, who received $24,462, and Pamela Bensoussan, who checked in with $20,655.
However, other factors may shape tomorrow’s election results, including the use of high-powered consultants.
Political consultant Tom Shepard, once anointed the kingmaker by the U-T, is working on Bensoussan's mayoral campaign.
Shepard has worked for a long chain of Republicans, but, according to a 2012 Voice of San Diego article, he fell out of favor with Republicans when he went to work for former mayor Bob Filner. He resigned during the Filner debacle.
As of May 22, Bensoussan, a Democrat, had paid Shepard & Associates $4000 in consulting fees.
Art Castanares used to be the chair of the county Democratic party. In 2006 his work as a consultant was credited with the win of Republican Cheryl Cox for Chula Vista mayor. In 2012, Castanares went to work for Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign in San Diego.
In the Chula Vista primary, Castanares provided $3000 in campaign literature services for mayoral candidate Jerry Rindone. He also provided $2250 in campaign literature services for council candidates Scott Vinson and Mike Spethman.
The role of campaign consultant Asher Burke in the Chula Vista primary has also influenced the campaign landscape.
Burke, according to CalWatchdog.com, is an aide to Tim Donnelly, a Republican candidate for governor. Wikepedia credits Donnelly as being the organizer of the California Minutemen.
Burke is listed as a principal for an independent expenditure committee. The activity of the committee has been reported on recently by the Reader’s Matt Potter and Dorian Hargrove.
A PAC named “San Diego Public Safety Advocates” (“A coalition of law enforcement associations supporting Robert Brewer for District Attorney,” according to the Facebook page) financed an anti–John McCann campaign. McCann, a Sweetwater Union High School board member, is running for seat one on the Chula Vista City Council.
Public Safety Advocates also paid for a mailer supporting Jason Paguio, who is running for council seat one, and Mike Spethman, who is running for seat two
According to Paguio’s May 22 campaign filing, he paid Campaign Services Group $1728 for campaign literature work. Asher Burke is listed as a principal for the Campaign Services Group.
A May 30 U-T article says a complaint has been filed about this alleged conflict of interest.