Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero has dropped out of the city's mayoral race and joined the council majority’s support of his council colleague David Benavides’ candidacy for the seat, Tinajero confirmed Friday afternoon.
Both Tinajero and Benavides last week announced bids to challenge longtime Mayor Miguel Pulido in the November election. Many City Hall watchers, however, believed that Benavides and Tinajero would have diluted each other’s votes and hand Pulido another easy victory.
But now the game has changed, said Benavides on Friday.
“We've got a council majority moving forward,” Benavides said. “It makes the race a lot more competitive. … We're in it to win, and we're confident that we will.”
The move is also more evidence of a full-scale council majority rebellion against Pulido that began when Councilwoman Michele Martinez successfully pushed for a November ballot measure to place an eight-year term limit on the mayor’s seat.
Pulido was first elected mayor in 1994 and has long been considered the city’s central power broker. But his influence has waned in recent years as the current council majority has challenged him with increasing frequency.