SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Jerry Sanders endorsed Councilman Carl DeMaio Tuesday to be his successor over Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, who widened his lead in the mayoral race in a poll released Tuesday.
Sanders called DeMaio the best choice to continue the city's efforts to overhaul its finances.
The mayoral election "can either strengthen our city, or it could destabilize us, for years, maybe for decades to come," Sanders said.
He downplayed past disagreements with DeMaio, whom he has criticized frequently in the past. He said the two were always rowing in the same boat, but sometimes wanted to go in different directions.
"Only one candidate is committed to the reform agenda that ended our structural deficit and has made our pension system a leader in the nation," Sanders said of DeMaio. "Only one candidate understands how to work with the private sector to improve the region's economy and put people back to work."
The councilman also had detailed knowledge of how the city works and the focus to sustain himself during difficult times, according to Sanders.
"I am absolutely humbled and appreciative that Mayor Sanders is supporting my candidacy," DeMaio said.
It was the second major endorsement in the race this week. On Monday, Sen. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, announced he is backing Filner.
Vargas lost to Filner in previous congressional campaign primaries, and is seeking the seat again now that it is being vacated.
In a poll released Tuesday by SurveyUSA, conducted for a local news station, Filner had a lead over DeMaio of 50 percent to 38 percent. The remainder of likely voters was undecided with six weeks before early voting begins in the general election.
Since the last poll one month ago, Filner gained three points and DeMaio lost three.
Filner said the results of the poll "indicates my message of putting neighborhoods first, not special interests, is resonating with San Diego voters, and may have been the catalyst for today's (endorsement)."
The data showed the 10-term congressman leads by three points among men and 21 points among women.
"It's unfortunate Jerry Sanders was put in the position of endorsing a person for whom he clearly has so little respect," Filner said. "It shows how much pressure he has been under from special interest supporters in the Republican Party and in the construction industry."
Sanders denied that he had been pressured but said he had discussed a possible endorsement with people he declined to identify. He also said the move was not prompted by polling data.
DeMaio said internal polling shows a close race.