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Pringle Looks Set to Be Unopposed

Times Staff Writer

Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, one of Orange County’s few big-city mayors, has won the endorsement of his chief critic, and it appears he will run unopposed for reelection in November.

“He’s done a great job for the city, and he deserves another four years,” said Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu, who has sparred with Pringle. “Even though we might have our differences on a few of the issues, they are not significant enough for me not to endorse a man with a great vision for our city.”

The smart money suggested that Pringle would have a fight on his hands this fall after Anaheim lost its name-game lawsuit with the Angels, costing the state’s 10th-largest city some $4 million and alienating the team’s popular owner. And an effort to land an NFL team drew skepticism from Sidhu, who thought the city was offering the league land for a stadium at half its value.

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But Pringle’s critics never got much traction on either issue. Even Pringle’s opponents believed that in renaming the team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Angels owner Arte Moreno had backed the mayor into a corner.

Many residents of Anaheim -- home to Disneyland, a huge convention center, an emerging downtown and professional baseball and hockey teams -- applauded Pringle for fighting the name change. The NFL land deal has remained in the background, largely because the league has yet to choose between the Los Angeles Coliseum and vacant land next to Angel Stadium.

Sidhu has tangled with Pringle on a few other occasions. Sidhu was the lone council member who didn’t support Pringle’s decision to appeal the verdict over the Angels’ name, and he disagreed with the mayor’s move to put a permanent gambling ban on the November ballot.

Because of Sidhu’s policy differences with Pringle and his wealth, most insiders figured he was the only politician who could give the mayor some competition.

Sidhu, 49, once owned 28 fast-food restaurants and spent more than $200,000 of his own money on his last council race.

“Now that Harry has endorsed the mayor, I think he will run unopposed,” said Anaheim Councilman Bob Hernandez, also a frequent Pringle critic. “It’s unfortunate, because I think the political process works a lot better when people have choices. I think a challenge would be better for Curt too. It keeps you on your game.”

But Hernandez acknowledged that Pringle, a former Assembly speaker with a war chest of some $500,000, is virtually unbeatable. Pringle, a conservative Republican, has worked closely with Democratic council colleagues Richard Chavez and Lorri Galloway and Latino leaders to create more low-cost housing and recreational opportunities in the city’s poorer districts.

Amin David, who heads Los Amigos of Orange County, a Latino advocacy group, said he was happy to hear Pringle would probably run unopposed.

“We certainly don’t want to lose him,” David said. “We’re very pleased with him. He listens to a lot of the ideas set forth by the progressives on council, Lorri and Richard. He cares about doing something different and decent for the working class. That’s very inclusive thinking.”

Sidhu, also a conservative Republican, said he briefly considered entering the race. But he realized a month ago he didn’t have enough support to defeat Pringle, who won handily in 2002 over three challengers.

“His polling numbers are better than mine,” Sidhu said. “But I didn’t base this solely on polling. The timing was not right. I will have a chance in my lifetime to be the mayor of the city.”

Pringle said he was pleased to receive Sidhu’s endorsement Monday.

“Harry told me some time ago that he wouldn’t run against me, but I know there was some talk out there,” Pringle said Tuesday after a ceremony launching the city’s 150th anniversary celebration.

“It’s nice to have a strong coalition of support from my colleagues. It makes it a lot easier to move the city forward.”


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