It's almost election time, usually the season Douglas Manchester opens his checkbook wide for favored GOP causes.
As if not to disappoint, the mega-millionaire developer and U-T San Diego publisher came up with $25,000 for the San Diego Republican Party this past Friday, September 26. Before that, on September 16, he kicked in $2600.
Based on disclosure filings, much of the local GOP's cash is going into the city-council campaign of downtown lobbyist Chris Cate, vice president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, of which Manchester's contract influence peddler Paul Robinson is a key member.
The developer wants to build a giant condominium, retail, and office complex on Mission Valley property now occupied by U-T San Diego, and needs all the city council votes he can muster.
But this year's Manchester GOP money is peanuts compared to the at least $356,000 the hotel magnate funneled through various Republican committees during the victorious race for mayor by Republican Kevin Faulconer against Democrats David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher.
Some say that's a sign Manchester could be running low on cash and may be serious about turning U-T San Diego, his San Diego daily newspaper, over to a nonprofit group being formed by Point Loma yachtsman and real estate magnate Malin Burnham.
His marriage to Geniya Derzhavina of Russia has also suggested to some city hall watchers that Manchester may be yearning for a life away from the humdrum of handouts to San Diego politicos.
One possible argument against the Manchester-as-tightwad theory: he's back on the board of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and blowing his own horn in a big way.
"'Papa Doug'," says a September 18 news release from the institute, posted on Manchester's personal website, DougManchester.com, "is an industrialist with accomplishments in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing, and real estate development."
Then follows a series of other immodest Manchester claims to fame.
"Papa Doug is considered father of the San Diego Convention Center after his generous contribution of the property for its development," says the release.
"The completion of the second largest Marriott and Hyatt hotels in the world anchored its success and gave birth to the vast San Diego downtown redevelopment still continuing today."
On top of that, the institute says, "Papa Doug was the catalyst for the biotech cluster at Torrey Pines."
"In addition to the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina and the Manchester Grand Hyatt, his investment and development projects include The Grand Del Mar Resort & Spa, Manchester Executive Center, Manchester Financial Building, and the Whitetail Lodge and Golf Club, and soon a convention center hotel in Austin, Texas."
Manchester was previously on the research institute's board from 2004 to 2010, the release says. The institute, which started life as the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation in 1976, was re-named the Burnham Institute in 1996 after Malin Burnham arranged for a big contribution.
Ten years later it became the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and in 2010 it was yet again re-christened, this time as the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, to recognize mega-bucks support from South Dakota's T. Denny Sanford.