San Diego County, CANovember 8, 2005 Election
Smart VoterAdditional Endorsements for Douglas M. HolbrookCandidate for
Council Member; City of San Diego; District 8
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Late spending gives Holbrook new presence

By Martin Stolz

November 4, 2005

Douglas Holbrook, an attorney from Golden Hill, has emerged in the final days before Tuesday’s special election as the unexpected maverick candidate of the race to fill the District 8 City Council seat.

His late-September campaign finance report showed that Holbrook had not raised or spent any money.

But Holbrook’s report last week showed he had lent his campaign $20,000 and spent nearly $6,000. Since then, Holbrook has mailed four brochures to likely voters, including one expected to arrive today or tomorrow. He said he will spend at least $25,000 on the campaign.
Also last week, Holbrook received an endorsement from the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs, a legislative and legal advocacy group that also endorsed Jerry Sanders for San Diego mayor and Rich Grosch in District 2. Holbrook and the others paid for a “slate mailer” from the statewide group.

Holbrook, 60, is one of eight candidates competing in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Ralph Inzunza, who resigned in July after his conviction on federal corruption charges. The two top finishers will be in a January run-off election if no candidate captures more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday.

Holbrook’s late spending could elevate his name recognition in the crowded field. He also could benefit from voter unhappiness with the biggest-spending candidates + Luis Acle, president of the San Diego school board, and Benjamin Hueso, a consultant and former city employee.
Acle has spent more than $24,000, while others have spent more than $39,000 on his behalf. These supporters include the San Diego County Republican Party, $16,158; the Lincoln Club, $12,155; and hotel owner Terry Brown, $10,000.
Hueso’s campaign has raised more than $40,000 from contributors. He has spent nearly $26,000. An association of landlords has spent $4,322 on Hueso’s candidacy.
District 8 typically has the lowest voter turnout in San Diego. Of its 40,000 registered voters, fewer than 10,000 are considered “high propensity voters,” said Cynthia Vicknair, a Republican political consultant not involved in any campaign.

A candidate could emerge as a finalist with fewer than 3,000 votes, Vicknair and other analysts said.
“Direct mail allows you to target your mail and message to a group of people most likely to vote,” Vicknair said. “And $25,000 buys you a lot of mail.”
Chris Crotty, a Democratic consultant not involved in any of the District 8 campaigns, disagreed with Vicknair.
To reach the name recognition levels enjoyed Hueso, Acle and Remigia “Remy” Bermúdez, who received the Democratic Party endorsement for this heavily Democratic district, Holbrook would need more like $250,000 and a connection to an established coalition of voters, Crotty said.
“I think his prospects are slim to none,” he said.
Holbrook conceded he was a long shot.
“But anything worthwhile is an uphill battle,” he said. “I believe in what I’m doing. I believe in honesty in politics.”

He unsuccessfully sought a seat on the San Diego Community College board of trustees in 2000. Holbrook cut his teeth in politics as a Democrat on George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, but he became a Republican during the Clinton presidency.

Holbrook, a former law professor and radio host, served on the San Diego Crime Commission and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Task Force.

Holbrook’s campaign is built on a platform of ethics and openness in government, public safety and a pledge not to raise taxes. His Web site is Because he supports publicly financed elections, Holbrook spurned contribution offers “just on principle,” he said.
Holbrook needs to distinguish himself from the others, and his rhetoric about a “clean campaign, in this day and age, might be a viable issue,” said Glen Sparrow, a professor emeritus of public administration at San Diego State University.
“If you make a wise choice in your mailings, then you might be able to make it into the runoff,” Sparrow said. “It’s all about name recognition.”

Holbrook’s anti-crime plan calls for increasing police presence in District 8 neighborhoods that he said have double the violent crime rate compared with the rest of San Diego. To help young people avoid the criminal justice system, which he knows well as a criminal defense lawyer, the city needs to provide more supervised options for children, such as the “6-to-6” before-and after-school program, he said.

Holbrook said municipal labor unions ought to “help create the solution” to the city’s fiscal woes with some combination of wage concessions, reduction in pension benefits or layoffs.
Vicknair, the consultant, said “the majority of people are making their minds up this week or this weekend.”
But Holbrook’s low name recognition remains a problem.
Karen Gless, a therapist who has knocked on doors in District 8 for Holbrook and Donna Frye, said none of the voters at the houses she visited had heard of him.
Several wanted to learn more about him or expressed their frustration with other candidates, Gless said.
“I guess it depends on whether he can let people know who he is,” she said.

Martin Stolz: (619) 542-4574;