Ten-term Mayor Miguel Pulido Thursday filed candidacy papers to run for an eleventh term, thus ending months of speculation that he might step down from a position he's held for two decades.
The rumor mill began cranking up in June when, following his state of the city address, Pulido declined to answer reporters' questions about his intentions for the November election. Later, blogger Art Pedroza, a former Pulido campaign consultant, wrote that the mayor was considering retirement.
Speculation was further fueled by the fact that Pulido hasn’t raised a penny for his reelection campaign.
Then, on Monday, things took a dramatic turn when state Sen. Lou Correa pulled papers to run for mayor. Correa's actions went a long way toward confirming reports that he (D-Santa Ana) and Pulido had talked about the possibility of Pulido stepping aside so Correa could run in a field without a powerful incumbent.
At one point, a deal was on the table whereby Pulido would step down from the mayor’s seat and run for the county’s first supervisorial district which would be vacant if Supervisor Janet Nguyen is elected to state Senate this year, sources familiar with the talks said.
What exactly transpired is unclear, but ultimately Correa decided not to run. On Wednesday, Correa emailed a brief statement to a Voice of OC reporter announcing that decision.
Pulido hung up on a reporter seeking comment, and Correa has declined to comment further.
So far, the mayoral candidates field isn’t as crowded as the last election cycle.
Councilman Roman Reyna has filed for mayor, while Councilman Vincent Sarmiento has pulled candidacy papers but has yet to submit them. Resident Mark I Lopez has also pulled papers for the mayor’s seat but hasn’t filed.
The deadline to file is Friday.
Pulido easily won his nine bids for reelection. But his influence has waned in recent years, and his share of the vote dropped below 50 percent in the last two election cycles. Pulido still won those elections because he was the highest vote getter, and the remaining candidates split the majority vote.
This year, the field has fewer candidates, and the mayor’s profile is clouded by ongoing state and Orange County District Attorney investigations – confirmed publicly for the first time Thursday -- into a property swap with a city contractor. Ethics experts said the transaction could have been a $230,000 bribe.
How those investigations will affect Pulido’s candidacy or ability to fundraise remains to be seen.