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Water Gun Fight Spills Into San Diego Mayor’s Race

The water fight gone wrong at the Balboa Park lily pond continues to cause ripples in the San Diego mayor’s race.

— The water fight gone wrong at the Balboa Park lily pond continues to cause ripples in the San Diego mayor’s race. The tension was obvious at the latest mayoral debate.

Special Feature San Diego Mayor's Race

The debate in front of the Building Owners and Managers Association was supposed to be about issues like pension reform and project labor agreements. And it was, to some extent. But the real topic of discussion was how big a role Republican Carl DeMaio’s partner, Johnathan Hale, should play in the mayoral race. Hale has a business connection to a man who helped organize the water gun fight in Balboa Park.

Democratic Congressman Bob Filner issued a press release linking Hale to the criminal vandalism that took place at the park's lily pond. The DeMaio camp then issued a release stating police have verified Hale was not involved.

DeMaio held a news conference Monday blasting Filner’s release, and he continued to skewer Filner at today's debate.

"I do not believe that our mayor should take incidents like Balboa Park and use them to attack and try to ruin innocent people’s lives," DeMaio said. "It’s shameful. It may be the way you work in Congress, but it has no place in San Diego and it should be repudiated."

But Filner refused to back down from his claim. He said he believes Hale should hold a press conference on his connection to the water gun fight organizers.

"Surely this Johnathan Hale ought to answer some questions about his culpability in all this," Filner said. "The police are investigating. But, at the very least, there’s an incredible lack of judgment and character on the part of a man, who Carl says, will be his close adviser."

DeMaio's campaign said Hale would not have an official role in his administration.

There was more drama after the debate. While Filner continued to press his case with the media in the hall outside the debate room, DeMaio’s spokesman shouted that Filner is a "bold-faced liar."

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