SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who hopes to be San Diego's next mayor, announced Wednesday he has decided to leave the Republican Party to become an independent.
Fletcher, trailing his opponents in recent polls, announced his decision in a video clip posted on his campaign website, nathanfletcher.com. He said he has been struggling with the decision for "some time."
"Today I am leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent," Fletcher said. "In my heart, I believe it's what's right and what best reflects my values. I also believe it's what's right for our city moving forward ..."
Alluding to the contentious nature of the current political climate, he added: "I don't believe we have to treat people we disagree with as an enemy."
Fletcher, who served a decade in the Marine Corps, currently represents the 75th Assembly District. He is running to replace Mayor Jerry Sanders, who will be termed out.
The job, like all San Diego municipal offices, is nonpartisan.
Other mayoral candidates in the June 5 primary include include Councilman Carl DeMaio, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, and Tobiah Pettus, the owner of web-based businesses. All but Filner are Republicans.
"From my time as a watchdog who helped uncover the city's financial problems to my leadership on ending sweetheart deals at City Hall, I have taken on powerful insiders from both political parties to fight for reform on behalf of taxpayers," DeMaio said today. "That's why my campaign has attracted the broadest and deepest level of support from Democrats, Republicans and independents alike -- and I look forward to reaching across all political parties to finish the job of reform."
Dumanis issued a statement saying San Diego needs a mayor who is tough, calm and steady when things heat up.
"When you're in a tough spot, you stick to your principles," she said. "You stay true to who you are, you don't panic, you don't get desperate."
The county's top prosecutor said she has worked to build relationships throughout the county regardless of political affiliation.
The most recent poll, released last weekend by U-T San Diego, showed Dumanis and Fletcher tied with 10 percent support behind DeMaio, with 24 percent, and Filner, with 20 percent.
The results are similar to those of previous surveys of voter sentiment.
The top two vote-getters will meet in a runoff in November.