Hedgecock Ends Speculation He’ll Run for Mayor : Politics: The former mayor says he can better serve the city through his radio and television shows.
Former San Diego mayor and current talk-show host Roger Hedgecock, ending months of on-the-air hinting that he would once again seek city government’s top post, announced Monday that he will not join the campaign to succeed retiring Mayor Maureen O’Connor.
In an on-air news conference, Hedgecock said he had concluded that he could better serve San Diego by continuing his popular morning radio call-in show and his afternoon television program.
“I now believe that I can best serve the entire San Diego area by . . . continuing to offer a unique opportunity to share information, develop opinions and arouse the power of the people to make San Diego a better place to live,” Hedgecock told reporters assembled in his studio at KSDO-AM (1130).
His announcement, and reporters’ subsequent questions, were simultaneously broadcast to the listeners that for the past few months have heard Hedgecock ruminate over the pros and cons of again seeking the mayor’s post.
A Hedgecock candidacy would have instantly transformed the odds of success for the four major candidates now in the mayor’s race. Public opinion polls and private assessments show that Hedgecock would have immediately vaulted to the front of the pack of candidates by virtue of his extremely high name-recognition among local voters.
Whether Hedgecock could have overcome his past and six years of often caustic commentary on the radio to capture the mayor’s post is another question.
Coupled with O’Connor’s vow not to seek reelection--a promise she repeated again in an interview Monday--Hedgecock’s decision indicates that San Diego’s next mayor will come from among the major contenders: County Supervisor Susan Golding, San Diego City Councilman Ron Roberts, growth-control advocate Peter Navarro and financier Tom Carter.
The deadline to file for the race is Thursday.
Hedgecock beat O’Connor in the 1983 mayor’s race but was forced to step down in 1985 after he was convicted of 13 felonies stemming from allegations that he and his political supporters illegally funneled more than $350,000 to his campaign.
In 1990, the California Supreme Court threw out 12 felony perjury counts against him. Hedgecock later agreed to plead guilty to one felony, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged from his record.
Last May, the state Fair Political Practices Commission dropped a $1-million campaign corruption lawsuit against Hedgecock in return for a $30,000 payment from him. That settlement absolved Hedgecock of any liability for violations of campaign donation limits and public disclosure laws.
“I think everybody’s probably secretly relieved,” Roberts said after Hedgecock’s announcement. “Roger would have been a strong candidate.”
Golding, the current front-runner, said she believes she and Hedgecock would have met in the runoff election set for Nov. 3 if no candidate captures a majority of the votes in the June 2 primary. She said that contest would have featured “far less personal attacks than my opponents are engaging in.”
But Navarro, founder of Prevent Los Angelization Now!, said a Hedgecock candidacy would have hurt “career politicians” Golding and Roberts most. Carter said Hedgecock’s absence “will be good for the campaign. I think we’ll be able to direct more attention to issues and (less) to personalities.”
According to Gayle Falkenthal, Hedgecock’s executive producer, Roberts called KSDO shortly before Hedgecock’s 11 a.m. announcement and invited him to “run an issues-oriented campaign.”
Roberts said his comments were conditioned on Hedgecock entering the campaign, but Falkenthal said that “I don’t remember an ‘if’ being there. He acted as if it was a fait accompli. “
At his news conference, Hedgecock said he would have won the race had he entered it and brushed off suggestions that public discussion over whether he should run was orchestrated to increase his television and radio ratings.
“I had to make a very, very hard judgment about the direction of my life and, frankly, it had nothing to do with ratings,” he said.
He said he had been leaning toward running until recent days, when he concluded that he could have more impact on the city in his current vocation. He said he would not endorse any of the candidates but would “hold their feet to the fire” on major local issues and offer plenty of time for on-air debate.
KSDO general manager Mike Shields said he did not know in advance what Hedgecock’s decision would be but was prepared to pull him off the air immediately if Hedgecock announced he was running. Shields said he had not lined up a replacement for Hedgecock.