Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

KPBS Evening Edition

San Diego Democratic Party — Again — Accuses Sara Jacobs Of 'Misleading' Statements

Sara Jacobs inside of her campaign office in the College Area in this undated photo.
Roland Lizarondo
Sara Jacobs inside of her campaign office in the College Area in this undated photo.

Mail-in ballots are heading to voters soon and a local party is calling out one of its own, whom it didn't endorse, ahead of early voting.

The San Diego County Democratic Party is accusing candidate Sara Jacobs of again misleading voters in the 53rd Congressional District.

"She can do this — but it’s wrong to do it," said Will Rodriguez Kennedy, chair of the San Diego Democratic Party. "And San Diegans need to know there is only one Democratic candidate who has been endorsed by the party and that is Georgette Gomez, the council president of the city of San Diego."

San Diego Democratic Party — Again — Accuses Sara Jacobs Of ‘Misleading’ Statements
Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

RELATED: Local Democrats Call Out Congressional Candidate For Misleading Mailers

In February, Rodriguez Kennedy called out Jacobs for putting the phrase “endorsed by California Democrats” on campaign mailers. Now he said she is doubling down by having it in her ballot statement for the general election.

"We often refer to ourselves as either San Diego Dems, or San Diego Democrats or California Dems and California — so it’s specifically meant to mislead voters in this election and it’s sort of a pattern," he said.

Jacobs and Gomez are both Democrats. Jacobs finished ahead of Gomez in the March primary, but has not been endorsed by the state party. A California Democratic Party official said endorsements are taken seriously and for a candidate to imply they have one is deceptive and frustrating.

"Sara Jacobs is going to be spending a lot more money and designing a lot more ads and signing off on a lot more messaging and we want to make sure we nip this in the bud," said Daraka Larimore-Hall, vice chair of the state party.


Jacobs' campaign said “endorsed by California Democrats” is taken out of the context of the full ballot statement, which goes on to list supporters.

A spokesperson says the language was approved by state election officials and the Gomez campaign never made a legal challenge when they could have. The spokesperson also points out the party’s complaint comes just days after a poll showed Jacobs with a double-digit lead over Gomez.

"Our campaign ballot statement was approved by the California Secretary of State, with no challenges from the local party or the Gómez campaign, both of which had ample time to do so through formal channels," a spokesperson for Jacobs campaign said via email.

"It's hardly surprising that just two days after an independent poll found Gómez trailing by double digits, their campaign has suddenly decided to create something out of nothing."

UC San Diego Political Science Professor Thad Kousser said it is fair to ask why the party is challenging this now.

"I think it’s a fair point to say, 'This has been in the public domain — this ballot description has been in the public domain,'" Kousser said. "I think the poll that I saw this week showed that this is a race that is very up for grabs."

Kousser said research shows voters look for party endorsements, and they are something candidates vie for. He said this a preview of what is to come in November.

"The fights within a party are often as ferocious as others, especially when there is so much is at stake here and getting this seat could be a generation of political power for whoever wins this," he said.

The 53rd congressional seat is currently held by Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis, who is retiring after nearly 20 years. The district has nearly twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.

Democracy Day is an effort that started in 2022 to draw attention to the crisis facing American democracy, provide the public with the context and information they need, and bring all types of media together to sound the alarm collectively. KPBS is a media partner in this collaborative.