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San Diego Decides by Voice of San Diego

San Diego Decides is Voice of San Diego’s elections podcast. Hosts Sara Libby and Ry Rivard break down individual races and ballot measures San Diegans will weigh in on this year, as well bigger issues like the mechanics of voting, state-level drama and more.
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Apr 18, 2016

In the political arena, underdogs are candidates who don't get many endorsements, they raise little money compared to competitors and they don't have much name recognition.

People think underdogs are long-shots who won't likely win, but sometimes they pull out a surprise.

Lori Saldaña is a self-admitted political underdog who joins podcast co-hosts Ry Rivard and Sara Libby this week to talk about her underdog status in the mayoral race, and her surprise win in a past race for state Assembly.

Saldaña was a major underdog when she ran for Assembly. She said she won, in part, because the Democrats she was up against were too busy slinging mud at each other.

"People said it was a circular firing squad of Democrats in that primary and I ducked," she said.

Also on the podcast this week, Kevin Melton, a Republican candidate for the 78th District Assembly seat. Melton is running against City Councilman Todd Gloria — someone who's well known, has racked up endorsements and raised far more money — but Melton said he doesn't consider himself an underdog at all.

"I'm able to relate with all sides and all people," he said. "So those people who need to come over who are fiscally conservative, socially moderate – they will vote my way."

Melton said on the podcast that he has a slate of high-profile endorsements but that they'll stay secret for the time being. He also said that though he hasn't reported much money on campaign fundraising disclosures, that will soon change.

After the podcast taping, Melton emailed a new list of endorsements: "Supervisor Bill Horn, Assemblyman Brian Jones, Councilman Scott Sherman, Coronado Councilman Richard Baily, the entire Republican Party Central Committee 78th Assembly District, Republican Federation of Women Coronado, Point Loma, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solano Beach." But he also said he has the endorsements of four "major people in the city" that he still can't share.

VOSD's Lisa Halverstadt also makes an appearance on the podcast this week to shed some light on the race to fill Gloria's District 3 City Council seat.

Candidates Chris Ward and Anthony Bernal are similar in a lot of ways. They've both said no to public funding for a new stadium for the Chargers and yes to a dedicated funding stream to fix the estimated $300 million of infrastructure needs in Balboa Park.

The two have also invoked Gloria's image in their campaigns, even though neither candidate has gotten his official endorsement yet.

Crazy Ballot Initiatives

The Secret Ballot Voting in State Legislature Initiative is also a bit of an underdog to make the November ballot. The proposed measure wants legislators to be required to vote by secret ballot, thereby eliminating voting records and any method of understanding how our elected officials are doing their job.

Favorite Things

• Rivard's favorite thing is the California Public Records Act. During the Saldaña interview, the candidate brought up her complaint that someone with political motivations has requested her personnel records. Rivard said he likes the fact that anyone can file a public records request, and it shouldn't matter what the motivations are behind each filing, because the public deserves access to public files. The public, after all, is paying for them.

• Libby's a USC alum, so her fave thing this week is the school's recent hire of Lynn Swann, a former professional football player, as athletic director.

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