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Political Outsider Floods Airwaves in Mayoral Bid

Politics: Businessman Pete Davis’ Ads Raise His Name Recognition

Pete Davis makes no apologies for his deep pockets and isn’t ashamed about spending freely to ensure his campaign for mayor gets noticed.

Apparently Davis’ efforts to improve his name recognition through an extensive television campaign is working.

A poll taken last month showed the former Bank of Commerce president holding a slight lead among a group of announced candidates to replace Mayor Susan Golding. She is leaving because of term limits.

Davis said since he embarked on his campaign last fall, he’s gone through about $350,000, with about $300,000 of that going to television advertising.

He expects to spend at least “another couple of hundred thousand” before the March 7 primary. If none of the 12 mayoral candidates gets a majority, the top two vote-getters will square off in November.

Davis said he has to spend more than his competitors because he doesn’t have the luxury of the name recognition that comes with being an elected public official. Among those vying for the post are three members of the current City Council, a county supervisor and a Superior Court judge.

“I’m at a disadvantage to elected public officials who can call a press conference at a moment’s notice, and get all this free publicity from the media,” he said.

While Davis is technically a millionaire, he says rumors about his wealth are far beyond the reality of his holdings. One operative of a rival candidate said he heard Davis was worth “anywhere from $10 million to $90 million.”

Davis laughs when he hears the estimates, saying “I wish that were true.”

Some of the rumors emanate from the profits Davis took when the Bank of Commerce was sold last year to U.S. Bancorp of Minneapolis.

According to the proxy statement on the bank merger and an interview with Davis, the value of his stock at the time the deal was consummated was about $7.7 million.

That amount was taken from ownership of about 387,000 shares of Bank of Commerce stock he directly owned at the time of the sale. Because of the exchange agreement with U.S. Bancorp, that amount yielded about 232,000 shares of U.S. Bancorp stock.

Multiplied by the closing price of $33.50 last July 15, the figure was $7.7 million in pre-taxed value.

However, since then U.S. Bancorp stock plunged to about $20 in recent weeks, and the value of the portfolio has shrunk to about $4.8 million.

Despite this wealth, Davis contends he cannot “buy” the election.

The TV spots can bring about better recognition, but voters want to know more about a candidate’s stands on issues before choosing a candidate, he said.

If he can articulate his message clearly during the next two months, Davis said he should be able to win the primary by 10 percentage points.

Davis compares his candidacy to that of Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a private businessman who also had no prior experience in public office before he was elected in 1992.

People are ready for a change and aren’t happy with the status quo, so he expects his ideas to resonate with many voters.

The problem is with so many candidates, Davis has to distinguish himself, and get his name recognition up. That’s one thing money can buy, and that’s why he’s doing it, he said.

Olympic Teams to Pass Through S.D. Before Games

San Diego, positioned as the last stop for athletes headed to the Sydney Olympics this summer, won’t likely generate a lot of extra tourism dollars from the event. But the city could gain some valuable exposure.

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Jan. 6 that it will do its standard team processing for the event at San Diego’s Naval Training Center complex.

The 1,000-person U.S. delegation, including 600 athletes, will come through the former Navy base from Aug. 15 to Sept. 13. They will undergo medical examinations, receive team apparel, be briefed and have official photos taken.

Although the temporary processing center isn’t expected to bring in many visitor dollars, San Diego will benefit from the publicity, said Sal Giametta, spokesman for the local Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Media attention will likely involve the pre-game hype for the Olympic events, which begin Sept. 15 and end Oct. 1.

After being processed during their designated time, most teams will head directly to the Los Angeles International Airport for their flights to Sydney.

While in San Diego, delegates will be housed at the Navy’s Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare base near Downtown. During their stays, some of the teams will be training at the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Arco Training Center in Chula Vista.

The center, which is nearly a decade old, was one reason that the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization decided to locate its processing center here for the 2000 event, said senior director Greg Harney.

The decision is mostly based on geography, Harney said. He compared it to a site on the East Coast being appropriate for a processing center for an Olympics in a European country.

San Diego hosted the Olympic Cup in the fall, Harney said. The weekend festival took place Sept. 9-12 and featured boxing, swimming, beach volleyball and women’s basketball in small venues.

Also, the Navy is a member organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee, he said.

,Tanya Rodrigues

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