Richard Bailey ...

In August 2021 Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey announced his candidacy for California’s 52nd congressional district. Recently, Bailey has decided to withdraw his candidacy.

In August 2021 Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey announced his candidacy for California’s 52nd congressional district. In the five months since, Bailey’s campaign gained momentum with a platform popular among fiscally conservative and socially moderate voters in San Diego. The campaign also showed early success with fundraising, raising over $525,000 as of the end of 2021 (with $520,000 from individual donors). Despite the encouraging progress, Bailey has decided to withdraw his candidacy. He sat down with the Eagle & Journal to discuss the suspension of his campaign:

Eagle & Journal: In August when you announced your campaign you mentioned that you weren’t too concerned with what might happen with California’s redistricting. Were the new district boundaries significantly different than what you expected?

Richard Bailey: Yes, the district boundaries surprised us and are entirely responsible for our decision to pull out of the race. In mid to late 2021, the California Redistricting Commission began releasing various preliminary draft maps for public feedback. These maps were largely created by the technical staff of the commission and were not influenced by the commissioners. Many of these preliminary maps showed Coronado in a moderate district with voters that have similar values and issues as us which made me confident our campaign could be successful. The first official draft map was published by the technical staff in early December, and it showed district boundaries that would’ve been very competitive for our campaign. However, once the political commissioners were allowed to change the boundaries within the draft maps, they did. Of the fifty-two congressional seats in California, approximately forty-seven were drawn to be further left politically and five were drawn to be further right. Rather than create more moderate districts, the commission effectively created more partisan districts by packing democratic voters in most seats and republican voters in a few seats. So yes, I was surprised how partisan it became and with the eventual outcome.

* Every ten years California redraws boundaries for congressional, senate, state, and county legislative districts based on the most recent census (the state lost one US congressional district based on slow population growth). Because the 2020 census was delayed due to COVID, the redistricting commission did not produce the new district maps until the end of December 2021.

Eagle & Journal: Suspending or ending a campaign has to be a difficult decision, especially after a significant amount of time, energy, and resources have gone into it. Who was involved in your decision? Can you walk us through the process? 

Richard Bailey: We had so many wonderful people support our campaign that it’s impossible not to feel like I’m letting them down. So yes, it was a very tough decision personally. And when you look at the state of our country right now, with record high inflation, record high debt, COVID policy which continues to be nonsensical, and a lack of credibility around the world, there’s a sense of professional responsibility to help tackle these problems.

But ultimately what the decision came down to answering the question, can we win? Our campaign team looked at a variety of turnout projections, past wave election years, and recent district-wide campaigns to help inform us. Based on the new district lines, there’s just not a probable path to victory so we decided to pull out and it’s as simple as that. Without a path, choosing to move forward and spend everyone’s time and money for a campaign that doesn’t look like it has a shot wouldn’t be fair to all of our supporters. 

Eagle & Journal: Do you have plans to run for another elected office as a candidate in the future?

Richard Bailey: Never say “never” but it’s unlikely based on the new district maps for local, state, and federal offices. We’ll see what the future holds but certainly no run for office in the 2022 cycle. 

Eagle & Journal: Then what, if anything, is next politically?

Richard Bailey: There are a lot of ways to influence public policy other than being a member of congress. When we look at the problems facing the state of California: high crime, homelessness, failing schools, and a terrible business climate, many of these issues were created by bad policy in Sacramento. So the question is how do we fix it? Since our legislature has refused to act, I’ll be starting a statewide political action committee to address these problems through citizen initiatives. This statewide PAC will also support local and state candidates that are committed to bringing common sense back to California. I believe this is the best way to make a difference at this time. 

Eagle & Journal: What will happen with all the money the campaign has raised?

Richard Bailey: We’re in the process of contacting our donors to see if they would like their contribution returned or if they would like to roll it over into a forthcoming statewide PAC. So far, all of the donors I’ve spoken with share our desire to help reform California policies so I’m confident we’re going to be sufficiently funded to make an impact with the statewide PAC. 

Eagle & Journal: You still have nearly three years left on your term as Mayor of Coronado. What will your priorities be for the city?

Richard Bailey: We made a lot of progress in the past five years addressing issues that previously went untouched so I’m excited to continue pushing those forward. We’ll be working to secure more funding to solve the Tijuana sewage issue. We’re going to get Cays Park underway in the near future. Now that the entrance to the Del is complete, we’re going to enhance the medians in front of the Shores. I’m also very excited to push for making outdoor dining permanent and a new Orange Avenue master plan that makes significant investments in the landscaping, streetscaping, and overall feel of the business district to keep up with private investment we’ve seen come in. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to making progress to finish out my term.

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