Bob Nascenzi said tough primary would benefit Republican Rep. Bilbray

By Christopher Cadelago
October 24, 2011

Businessman Bob Nascenzi on Monday officially abandoned his congressional run and endorsed fellow Democrat Scott Peters for the 52nd District.

The moves had been rumored since last week, when the port chairman and former president of the San Diego City Council announced he would challenge Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray and former Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña.

On Monday, Nascenzi said in a letter to supporters that a hotly contested primary race between Democrats would only benefit Bilbray.

“Someone has to step up and hold him accountable,” Nascenzi said. “Scott Peters knows people are hurting, that they’re worried about their jobs, and about keeping their homes, and that they want someone who will put their priorities first. The people of the new 52nd District deserve better and Washington needs his common sense approach. Scott is the right person for the job, and I believe he can win.”

Under the state’s new primary system, the top two vote-getters in the June election advance to November, regardless of their party affiliation. A key factor in the race will be the candidates’ abilities to attract the nearly one-third of registered voters who have declined to affiliate with a political party.

Republican John Stahl, who has been catering his message to tea party supporters, is set to challenge Bilbray from the right.

Nascenzi, chief executive of DefenseWeb, declared his candidacy before a state panel endorsed new district boundaries in August. The redrawn 52nd District, which sweeps south from Poway through Clairemont, La Jolla, downtown San Diego and Coronado, has become a key battleground because of its near-even split between registered Democrats and Republicans.

In his letter, Nascenzi said Peters’ independent, common-sense approach was needed in Congress. In a prepared statement, Peters thanked the software executive for helping raise the profile of the election.

“I look forward to working with him to develop new ideas to create jobs, better serve our veterans, improve education, and to work toward enacting a fair and equitable tax policy,” Peters said. “I thank him for his commitment to creating a better San Diego.”