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Election day: Runoff likely in San Diego mayor's race

June 5, 2012 |  9:55 pm

Click for live results from the California primary

In early returns, Councilman Carl DeMaio and Rep. Bob Filner appear headed for a November runoff to succeed termed-out Mayor Jerry Sanders.

DeMaio, 37, a conservative Republican, and Filner, 69, a Democrat and former City Council member and school board member, were leading Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, 35, and Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis, 60.

Also, two ballot propositions championed by fiscal conservatives appeared to be winning handily. Proposition A would ban so-called project labor agreements in which contractors agree to hire union workers on city projects. Proposition B calls for freezing salaries of public employees for five years and ending pensions for new city workers, substituting a 401(k) plan, except for new police officers.

LIVE RESULTS: California primary

The mayoral campaign was expensive, and, in the final weeks, caustic. Rivals pointed out that Fletcher had been largely absent from his post in Sacramento while campaigning for mayor.

The police and firefighters union financed commercials against DeMaio. In one, a former council member called DeMaio “a political sociopath” who cannot be trusted.

Both Dumanis and Fletcher began the campaign as Republicans, but Fletcher, a former Marine who served in Iraq, dumped the GOP in mid-campaign and rebranded himself as an independent.

Fletcher’s change in registration, which he defined as a “move to the middle” away from extremes that are paralyzing government, brought a surge in the polls. Dumanis enjoyed no such resurgence, despite endorsements from Sanders and all five members of the Board of Supervisors, all Republicans.

A Filner-DeMaio runoff would mean a campaign pitting two sharp-tongued politicians with widely divergent views about public employment and the role of government against each other.

DeMaio said Proposition B is needed to keep the city from slipping back into red ink. Filner called it a fraud that will cost the city money and constitutes “throwing the employees under the bus.”

City Atty. Jan Goldsmith said he expected labor unions to sue to block Prop. B.

About the only thing that DeMaio and Filner agreed on is that Filner is a Democrat and an ally of President Obama. DeMaio’s commercials called Filner an “Obama Democrat.” Filner said that once he and Obama are elected, San Diego will have a friend in the White House. ALSO:

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-- Tony Perry, in San Diego

Photo: San Diego mayoral candidates during a debate on April 19. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times