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Politics

San Diego City Council District 1 Race Down To Two Candidates

San Diego Community Planners Committee Chair Joe LaCava speaks with KPBS Metro Reporter Tarryn Mento, Dec. 5, 2014.
Nicholas McVicker
San Diego Community Planners Committee Chair Joe LaCava speaks with KPBS Metro Reporter Tarryn Mento, Dec. 5, 2014.

San Diego City Council District 1 Race Down To Two Candidates
Democrat Joe LaCava, a community planner from La Jolla, said he's dropping out of the race to represent District 1 on San Diego's City Council.

The City Council District 1 race is now down to two candidates.

Democrat Joe LaCava, former head of the La Jolla Community Planning Group, said Friday he's dropping out of the race to represent the district that covers La Jolla, University City and Carmel Valley.

He first made the announcement on the online news website Voice of San Diego.

That leaves Republican Ray Ellis and Democrat Barbara Bry running for Council President Sherri Lightner's seat. Lightner, a Democrat, will be termed out this year.

If no other candidates emerge, the race will be decided in the June primary, when either Ellis or Bry wins the majority of the vote. The presence of two Democrats in the race had increased the likelihood that it would be decided in the November general election, when more Democratic voters are expected to turn out.

But LaCava said he's not concerned about that.

“With two Democrats in the race, we ran the risk of splitting the Democratic vote, and now the Democrats can concentrate on one candidate,” he said. “With four months to go until the absentee ballots are dropped, there certainly is the possibility of somebody new coming into the race that could change the dynamics.”

He added that because this year will be a presidential election, that increases the chances of a Democrat winning the primary in June.

He said he's not endorsing another candidate at this time.

LaCava said a number of factors influenced his decision to drop out, including his campaign, where the election was going and his family.

“One has to look at the practical status of where one’s at and make those hard decisions,” he said.

Steve Erie, a political science professor at UC San Diego, has said the District 1 race is the Republicans' best shot at gaining the majority on the City Council. It currently has five Democrats and four Republicans.

Erie said if Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer wins re-election — a strong likelihood at this point because he does not face any serious challengers — San Diego will see a "Republican reconquista ... because then they will control all branches of (city) government."

In a statement, Ellis thanked LaCava for his "deep affection for ​​the community."

"Like me, (LaCava) ran a campaign about putting our communities first, because that's what's most important," he said.​ "I look forward to working with (LaCava) in any​ ​way I can to improve the communities in District 1 and throughout the city.​"​