Del Mar resident is running for SD County District Attorney as an ‘apolitical’ candidate

Robert Brewer / Courtesy photo

By Joe Tash

After practicing law for 38 years in Southern California, Robert Brewer wants to add one more job title to his resume — San Diego County District Attorney.

The 67-year-old Del Mar resident is running against three-term incumbent District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in a race that also includes Deputy District Attorney Terri Wyatt. The election will be held in June, and a runoff would be held in November if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote.

Although the official filing period isn’t until next spring, Brewer kicked off his campaign Oct. 2, and he’s in full campaign mode.

“I have a strong desire to end my career in public service,” said Brewer. “The political world needs first-time candidates with my experience and at my age. I’m not a politician. People are sick of politicians.”

One of Brewer’s chief complaints against Dumanis, and a major reason why he said he is running to replace her, is her political activity, especially her unsuccessful run for mayor of San Diego in 2012. Dumanis came in fourth place in a field of four candidates.

As a consequence of Dumanis’ run for mayor, her office had to sit on the sidelines when Bob Filner, who was elected mayor in a November run-off election, was accused of sexual misconduct by numerous women.

“She destroyed the impartiality that office must have to investigate Bob Filner for his alleged sexual misconduct. (The D.A.’s office) can’t touch the case because of her,” Brewer said.

The investigation of Filner was transferred to the state attorney general’s office, and last week, Filner pleaded guilty to one felony and two misdemeanor counts related to his mistreatment of women, under a plea bargain agreement.

Brewer, a former Republican who changed his party affiliation to “decline to state” when he decided to run for district attorney, said, “I’m going to depoliticize the office. I will never run for another office. The only job I want is district attorney.”

As D.A., Brewer said he would strictly avoid any type of political activity, including endorsement of candidates for office in San Diego County.

Prior to his legal career, Brewer served in the Army Rangers, earning a number of medals for his combat service in Vietnam, which included 87 jumps as a paratrooper. He attended law school at the University of San Diego, and worked as a prosecutor in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego.

He has worked as a trial attorney throughout his career, handling cases ranging from general civil litigation to defending the accused in white collar criminal cases.

“That’s what I do,” he said. “My office is the courtroom.”

His high-profile clients have included Nancy Hoover, nicknamed the “golden girl,” in the saga of disgraced financier J. David Dominelli, and former Superior Court Judge Michael Greer, who was convicted of bribery charges.

Brewer said he possesses three attributes that qualify him for position of top prosecutor in San Diego County: a strong record of ethics, leadership and management experience both in the military and the legal profession, and trial experience.

He also touts endorsements by law enforcement unions, including those representing San Diego police and county deputy sheriffs. Those endorsements won’t affect his ability to prosecute police officers accused of wrongdoing, he said.

“If a police officer is breaking the law, that’s a violation of trust that requires a very aggressive prosecution,” he said. “I’m going to uphold the law regardless of who the defendant is.”

And his quest to unseat Dumanis, who ran unopposed in her last two elections, won’t come cheaply, according to Brewer, who estimated that he will need to spend at least $1 million.

“It’s going to take a lot of money to unseat an incumbent in a countywide race,” he said.

According to campaign finance reports filed with the county Registrar of Voters office, Brewer is well on his way. From Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, he raised $281,243, including a $36,000 loan from Brewer to his campaign.

During the same period, Dumanis raised $213,296, according to campaign finance reports.

Another asset to Brewer’s campaign will be his wife, Irma Gonzalez, a federal district judge. While Gonzalez has been unable to participate in Brewer’s campaign so far, she plans to retire from the bench on Oct. 25.

“She’ll be another member of the team,” said Brewer, noting that his wife will have to work around her new job with JAMS, a private mediation and arbitration service.

The couple has one daughter and two grandchildren, who live in Virginia.

For more information on Brewer, visit