Phil Graham eyes Encinitas Council run

Phil Graham eyes Encinitas Council run
Phil Graham is running for 76th State Assembly. Photo courtesy of Phil Graham for Assembly

A little over a month after dropping out of his race for State Assembly, Phil Graham has set his sights on another elected office — the Encinitas City Council, the Coast News has learned.

Graham, a local businessman and step son of former California Gov. Pete Wilson, filed his candidate intention statement and committee formation forms with the Encinitas City Clerk’s office this week, City Clerk Kathy Hollywood said.

Encinitas is in a unique position where four of the City Council seats — including the mayor spot — are up for re-election on Nov. 8, which could potentially change the dynamics of the council from it’s current 3-2 liberal-leaning majority.

Graham is one of five people to announce their intention to run for council.

Incumbents Tony Kranz and Mark Muir have filed re-election paperwork, Planning Commissioner Tasha Boerner Horvath also has filed paperwork for an election bid, and Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear has announced she will run for mayor as current Mayor Kristin Gaspar is running for the County Board of Supervisors.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, who often comprises a voting majority with Kranz and Blakespear, is not seeking re-election.

The 48-year-old Graham originally set his sights on 76th Assembly District, which was set to be vacated by State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, who previously was going to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is retiring.

But Chavez announced in February that he was dropping out of the Senate race after polls showed him in third place behind State Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats. Graham and Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern, who also campaigned for the 76th Assembly seat, ended their bids for the seat following Chavez’s announcement.

Graham worked as an international businessman in Singapore before focusing on the life sciences and philanthropy. He was a vice president at the La Jolla-based Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute before he quit to campaign full time in 2015.

Graham briefly served as a White House intern under President Ronald Reagan and later worked at California Strategies, the public affairs and lobbying firm founded by longtime Wilson aide Bob White.

Graham is one of Gayle Wilson’s two sons from a previous marriage. Gayle married Pete in 1983.

The Coast News has reached out to Graham for comment and will update the story when he responds.


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