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Inland Empire Political News.001
Inland Empire Political News.001

Politics in the City of San Bernardino

The recent guilty plea by former Councilman Chas Kelley has turned a once stable Mayoral election into a free-for-all cage match with the last two standing facing each other in a February runoff.  Kelley was a leading contender to make the runoff with Councilwoman Wendy McCammack as his likely opponent.  In all likelihood, this would have led to a tough, but manageable win for Kelley.  Current Mayor Morris supporters would have flocked to Kelley as the possibility of City Attorney Jim Penman ally McCammack becoming Mayor would be too much to stomach.

Kelley’s departure, due to his guilty plea to a felony for committing a crime that the District Attorney himself has only been fined for, now creates complete uncertainty.  With 11 extremely weak candidates on the ballot, McCammack is likely to finish first.  Her best opportunity to win in February is entirely dependent on who she draws as her opponent.  Councilman Rikke Van Johnson is clearly her best draw (and probably only opportunity to win.)  Any other candidate will likely garner complete support from every other Mayoral candidate and their voters.

Which leads us to the next question, “who else is there?”  Candidate Carey Davis is being heavily funded by recall proponents and Mayor Morris.  Does it really surprise anyone that Morris and recall proponents are working together?  Come on.  So far, Davis is running an apparent stealth campaign.  He is a complete unknown and doesn’t appear to have any experience in local government.  No doubt, he will defeat McCammack if he survives the primary election.  But, with the expected low turnout, and Kelley supporters without a candidate, it could be a real squeaker for second place.

The recall is another story.  The successful effort to place City Attorney Jim Penman, McCammack, and Councilman John Valdivia on the ballot for a recall election has many people shaking their heads.  Penman appears to be most at-risk to be recalled.  First, the ongoing shenanigans related to Kelley’s plea and the bizarre charges on the same day against Penman and McCammack ally Councilman Robert Jenkins have further poisoned the well of public trust in a city that is already dysfunctional and bankrupt. Second, in addition to a significant plurality of voters who already hate him, Penman’s public admission that he filed the complaint against Kelley for campaign finance violations didn’t help him as Kelley supporters, who were relatively neutral on the recall, now have ample reason and the inclination, to get rid of the Penman troublemaker.

McCammack, is less likely to be recalled as she has a significant support base that should be able to fend off the recall in her Council Ward.  The only caveat in her recall election is the activity of her five recall opponents who appear to be running real campaigns and could persuade voters to vote in favor of the recall.   John Valdivia is a shoe-in to beat the recall as he has only been on the Council two years and is extremely visible and popular in his Ward.  Then again, this IS San Bernardino.

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