Only a few months ago, Democratic incumbent Scott Peters was battling with GOP ex–city councilman Carl DeMaio for Congress in the tony 52nd District.
Scott Peters and Bill Clinton
Now another big-money struggle for the seat is on the horizon, perhaps with a radical new twist.
Last year's bitter political proxy war pitted billionaire Democrat Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs against GOP mega-millionaire developer and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester for home district bragging rights, with the victory ultimately going to Jacobs and his candidate, former city councilman Peters.
During the campaign the Koch-tied Republican pulled out all the stops at the newspaper to help his longtime friend and ally DeMaio, according to the charges of onetime DeMaio campaign staffer Todd Bosnich that were subsequently denied by U-T editor Jeff Light.
“We had an extremely cozy relationship with the U-T San Diego that always struck me as something that was frankly unethical,” Bosnich was quoted as saying by TV station KNSD regarding the DeMaio-Manchester relationship.
"There’s nothing new about a partisan newspaper, but the length the U-T would go always shocked me."
For his part, Peters benefited from a Jacobs-hosted La Jolla fundraiser featuring president Barack Obama and picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which gets heavy financial backing from Qualcomm, disclosure records revealed.
Peters also got the personal endorsement of Bill Clinton, another favorite of Jacobs, who is backing ex–first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton for president.
Millions of campaign dollars poured into the race from liberal and conservative dark money groups, along with other special interests.
Last week the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee came out with a 14-member list of those in its "Frontline" program for especially vulnerable incumbents, with Peters prominently among them.
“Each one of these members knows what it takes to win tough elections: working hard, standing up for your district, and not taking anything for granted," says a February 12 statement by campaign committee chairman Ben Ray Lujan.
"You don’t add by subtracting, so the success of our Members is integral to our plan to stay on offense in 2016.”
Frontline designation is expected to bring with it money and political muscle from Washington, to go along with the financial backing of Jacobs.
With Republicans again vowing to target the Peters seat, speculation continues over whether yachtsman and real estate mogul Malin Burnham, a Peters backer and Jacobs ally, will manage to take control of U-T San Diego from Manchester through a non-profit corporation, thereby disrupting the traditionally GOP media machine.