Last week Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey announced that he is making a run for United States Congress as the representative for California’s 52nd District.
“I decided to run now because I feel like, on a host of different issues, our federal government is making nonsensical decisions that affect the everyday lives of all Americans. For example, businesses can’t find staff and there are a record number of job openings, but our government is paying people not to work,” Bailey commented about why he decided to run now.
Bailey is a San Diego native and moved to Coronado in 2010. He began his political career in 2012 with a successful run for Coronado City Council. He was elected twice as the mayor in 2016 and 2020. With over eight years experience in local government, he says he has learned that fiscally conservative, non-partisan governance is the most effective. “I want to bring non-partisan common sense leadership to Washington, D.C. I am fiscally responsible and socially respectful and there is a track record that shows that. Our record in Coronado demonstrates the types of good governance policies that need to be exported and replicated in D.C.,” he said.
“I love public policy. I think it’s unfortunate that we discuss more about politics than the policies that are affecting our everyday lives. I want to change that. Voters are exhausted with the hyper partisanship,” he said.
Getting from Coronado City Hall to the United States Capitol will not be easy. As of now Bailey has no declared Republican competitor. Incumbent Democrat Scott Peters is listed on the San Diego County Democratic Party website as a candidate but has not released a statement declaring his candidacy. Peters is a formidable opponent and has beaten his challengers in the last five elections.
California elections fall under the ‘Top Two Primary’ policy. Under this system all voters may select any candidate in a primary election regardless of the voter’s or candidate’s party preference. The top two candidates with the most votes move to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
Other factors that might come into play for the 2022 election are redistricting and, of course, money. Getting in the race early will help Bailey in the Republican field. “We anticipate that a campaign like this will need between $1.5 - $2 million. It will be challenging but I am very optimistic from the initial outpouring of financial support our campaign has received,” he said. The FEC quarterly candidate financial reports will be filed between Sept. 30 - Oct. 15.
Redrawing of district boundaries could also be a factor in the 2022 election. Every ten years California redraws the boundaries for congressional, senate, state, and county legislative districts based on the most recent census. Because the 2020 census was delayed by four months due to COVID the state’s redistricting commission is behind on redrawing boundaries and has moved the date to complete the work from September to December. There is a possibility this delay could actually push the June 7 primary to a later date. The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that California will have one less congressional district, due to slow population growth in the last decade, creating more changes than normal in the congressional district boundaries.
Bailey is not too worried about redistricting. Currently CA52 includes the beach communities of Coronado, Point Loma, La Jolla, along with communities just east like Carmel Valley and Poway, and Downtown San Diego. As a resident of Coronado, Bailey lives within the current boundaries, and Coronado most likely will remain in CA52. However, California law requires only that congressional candidates be a resident of the state, not the district.
Even with some movement in boundaries Bailey says the issues of the region will not change. “There are a handful of issues that are important that affect the entire country, like spending and lack of border enforcement. But the issues that are specific to our district that I would champion are: the Tijuana sewage issue - it will be vital to secure adequate funding for the operations of the infrastructure that will be built in the coming years; military support and funding - since our region has such a large military presence we need to make sure the military has adequate support to carry out their mission; and focusing on San Diego as a hub for biotech,” he said.
Bailey is also very concerned about the skyrocketing [$23 trillion] national debt. “We have doubled our debt in the last ten years. Everyday Americans are paying the price of politicians who look for political solutions instead of pragmatic solutions,” he commented, pointing out that the debt has increased $14 trillion since Scott Peters has been in congress.
Bailey also plans to campaign on education reform and promoting school choice. He has supported the mask-choice ‘Let Them Breathe’ organization which advocates for student choice whether or not to wear a mask in school. “To me it’s less about the masks and more about school choice and local control. People on all ends of the political spectrum should support local control. Having people at the local level that represent their individual communities able to make local decisions makes sense,” he explained.
Bailey’s current term will end in 2024, so if he wins the congressional race he will vacate his mayoral seat. He believes there will be advantages for the city if he is elected to congress. “The best way for me to continue to represent Coronado is to represent our city, along with the region, at the federal level.”
In addition to his mayoral duties, Bailey is also an adjunct professor at University of San Diego, where he has taught economics for the past two years. Bailey will be busy in the coming year but believes that he can handle all the activity and mentioned that many candidates hold full time jobs. “I can absolutely do it. In fact the more effective I am as the mayor of Coronado, the more it will help me be a more effective candidate and ultimately representative.” Only five states have ‘resign to run’ laws [Georgia, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, and Texas] and campaigning while in office is fairly common practice in California.
Bailey is excited to officially kick off his campaign and plans to open a campaign office in the coming months, most likely in Coronado. “We are still in the very early stages and will be bringing on staff in the next month or so,” he said.
Bailey says that the number one indicator that translates to votes is name recognition so he plans to be visible in the district as much as he can. “Another challenge, obstacle, is the current environment,” he said. “People have a lack of trust that candidates actually care about them. Our campaign is trying to show voters that they no longer have to choose between a representative who can be fiscally responsible and one who is socially respectful and can represent someone who looks, loves, or prays differently.”