Saying he wants to devote time to his children and his hometown, Mayor Tom Daly announced Monday he will not run for the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Daly said he plans to run again for mayor.
“As my calendar started to fill up with commitments and appointments, I realized I would be sacrificing time better spent on my city, on my children and on making a living,” said Daly, who runs his own marketing consultant business.
“And I came to realize that as mayor of Anaheim, I will continue to have a say in matters affecting all of Orange County.”
His decision not to seek the 4th District seat that William G. Steiner is leaving came after months of attacks on Daly, a Democrat, by Orange County Republicans who have accused him of violating state and local campaign finance laws in a 1996 City Council race.
The accusations came to a head last month, when Ravi Mehta, hired by two members of the five-member Anaheim council to investigate and prosecute violations of campaign finance laws, filed misdemeanor criminal charges against Daly for minor reporting violations on financial disclosure forms.
Mehta, former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, was hired after City Atty. Jack L. White had refused to file charges against Daly, calling the accusations unsubstantiated.
Government political watchdogs who typically insist on enforcing campaign finance laws called the Mehta probe a “witch hunt.”
Mehta and the two councilmen who voted to hire him, Bob Zemel and Lou Lopez, have defended the probe, saying no campaign violation is too minor to prosecute.
Daly said Monday he had spent dozens of hours meeting with attorneys to fight the charges. When he realized how much time and money a countywide political campaign would consume, on top of the legal fight, he said he opted out of the supervisorial race.
Close associates of Daly said they were surprised and disappointed.
Daly had been the most widely recognized political figure planning a run for the 4th District seat. The district encompasses all of Anaheim and a few smaller Central and North County cities and has most often been led by politicians with strong ties to Anaheim.
“I think he was discouraged by all of this flak over whether somebody’s address was correct or somebody’s occupation was properly listed and all this stuff involving Ravi Mehta, but I hoped that wouldn’t take him out of the race,” said Wylie Aitken, chairman of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County.
Already in the race are Lopez, Anaheim businesswoman Cynthia P. Coad, and county Board of Education Trustee Eric H. Woolery, an accountant.
La Palma Councilman Paul F. Walker and Steve White, an Anaheim real estate broker, both said they intend to file to run before Wednesday’s deadline.