CARLSBAD — Saying he recognized the "hard, cold fact" that his campaign for county supervisor had "stagnated," Carlsbad City Councilman Richard Chick on Friday quit the 5th District race and endorsed Oceanside City Councilman John MacDonald.
MacDonald said he hopes that Chick's support will help catapult him over Escondido attorney Clyde Romney and into a November runoff with incumbent Paul Eckert, who is expected to lead the field of six candidates in Tuesday's primary election but fall short of the majority needed to win the election outright.
Although Chick's name will remain on the ballot, he said he would spend the campaign's final days contacting his supporters and urging them to vote for MacDonald.
"John MacDonald is probably the one true statesmanlike candidate in the race," Chick said at a news conference the two candidates held Friday morning. "I think North County needs a statesmanlike supervisor after the history of what we've had the past eight years."
Chick was the first candidate to enter the race when he announced last June that he intended to challenge Eckert for the right to represent the sprawling 5th District, which extends from Encinitas to Orange County and inland to the Imperial County line. Since then, he has raised more than $50,000 and spent much of it on about half a dozen mailers, advertising spots on cable television and a smattering of radio ads.
But Chick said that he realized after seeing recent polls and talking with his supporters that he had no chance to win the primary or place second
and qualify for the November runoff. Chick said he did a lot of "soul-searching" before deciding to quit the race.
"Every politician is a perennial optimist," Chick said. "It isn't until you see some hard, cold facts that cause you to do some serious thinking. It appears as though I was making no movement one way or the other. I was just kind of stagnated."
Still, Chick blamed his failure on "mechanical factors" of the campaign rather than a repudiation of his philosophy. Chick, a real estate agent, has been one of the strongest advocates for continued growth in Carlsbad, although he and MacDonald both said Friday that Chick had "moderated" his views during the second half of his four-year council term.
"I just couldn't seem to get it off the dime," Chick said of his effort. "For some reason, despite everything we did, we weren't able to make any upward movement. That still is a paradox to me . . . I thought we did everything the right way. And it didn't work."
Other candidates downplayed the importance of Chick's withdrawal and endorsement of MacDonald.
"Chick's endorsement may be the kiss of death," said Richard Repasky, a La Costa resident and private detective who is considered a long shot in the race. "Dick Chick isn't that popular around his own town."
Romney said he expected to pick up support from Chick's Carlsbad allies who felt obligated to side with their local councilman as long as he was in the race.
"The feeling we get from talking to our people in Carlsbad is that we may pick up as many votes as MacDonald," Romney said. "Many of my friends have felt they could not actively campaign for me during the primary as long as Dick was running."
Herb Williams, Eckert's campaign consultant, said he expected the switch to have little impact on Eckert's share of the vote. He said Eckert might pick up a few extra votes in Carlsbad.
"With councilmen or mayors running in all their home cities, they have natural constituencies," he said. "Where does that constituency go when they're not running anymore? To another candidate or to the incumbent? We won't know until Election Day."