Kehoe mulls run for mayor

SAN DIEGO -- Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, announced Thursday that she is forming an exploratory committee for a possible campaign for mayor in 2012.

The committee will be formed by the end of the week, Kehoe said.

If she officially enters the race, she would be the third major candidate to vie to succeed Jerry Sanders, along with Councilman Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

A final decision on whether to actually run will be made at a later date, she said.

"Since my first election to the San Diego City Council, I have been committed to addressing our city's problems with practical solutions,'' said Kehoe, who in 1993 became the area's first openly gay politician to win an elected office.

She served on the council until 2000, when she was elected to the Assembly. She's now in her second term in the state Senate and will be forced out of office by term limits.

"The challenges San Diegans face together can be resolved,'' Kehoe said. "We need honest solutions that don't cause more problems than they solve. Working together and using common sense, we can get San Diego back on the right track.''

She touted accomplishments in her various offices, including the development of the City Heights Urban Plaza, the extension of Interstate 15 through the mid-city, reforms for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and allowing domestic partners to receive equal benefits.

A couple of hours after Kehoe made her announcement, Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, issued a statement saying her potential candidacy is a display of increasing regional strength. He also noted that Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, has said he might enter the race.

"With the interest of two strong, experienced Democratic leaders in the mayoral race, San Diego is poised to have a Democrat on a general election (mayor's) ballot for the first time in 20 years,'' Durfee said, referring to Peter Navarro, who lost to Susan Golding in the race for an office that is technically nonpartisan.

"San Diego is already a very Democratic city, and 2012 will be our opportunity to show what that means for City Hall,'' Durfee said.

Registration figures that show the GOP losing ground will also affect campaigning, he said.

"We can all expect to see Republican candidates with staunch right-wing track records suddenly pivot and sell themselves as `moderate' or even progressive,'' Durfee said.

Tony Krvaric, head of the Republican Party of San Diego County, said that although Democrats have held registration advantages in the city for about a decade, San Diegans continue to elect mayors from the GOP because of perceived fiscal responsibility.

"With Senator Kehoe and Congressman Filner, local Democrats continue the tradition of putting up candidates whose primary allegiance is to public employee labor union bosses instead of hard-working San Diego taxpayers, and they will be met with the same fate as previous union bought-and-paid-for candidates -- losing," Krvaric said.

Candidates are allowed by the city's campaign code begin soliciting donations on Sunday.