Robert "Bob" Baker 1, the incumbent San Clemente Councilman as listed on the November ballot, points to signatures nominating a second, dark horse, Robert "Bob" Baker 0 as a ploy by the opposition to split incumbent Baker's votes and force him out of office by siphoning his votes.
Robert “Bob” Baker 0, dropped out of the race Tuesday, providing proof that he wasn’t a legitimate candidate, said the incumbent Baker.
"He never demonstrated that he was running for office," Baker said about his challenger and namesake. "All he ever did was sign up. You have to put money up to put up your ballot statement."
City Clerk Joanne Baade said it's too late to remove challenger Baker 0 from the ballot, leaving the incumbent Baker 1 campaign to educate a wide swath of voters that they should check off his name on the ballot.
Incumbent Jim Dahl, who has opposed Baker on a number of controversial issues in the past, said he didn't push Baker 0 to run, though he signed the challenger's nomination papers. Dahl said the erstwhile candidate grew up on the same street as a relative.
"[Baker 0] was my sister-in-law's next-door neighbor, and I didn't know that until I met him at a party. They said, 'Oh, you should sign his nomination papers," Dahl said. "I just signed his nomination papers; that's not an endorsement. I'll sign anyone's nomination papers; I signed [challenger Mike] Mortenson's nomination papers and he's my opposition.
"Baker  is trying to make a big deal out of this," Dahl added.
During his short candidacy, Baker 0’s campaign showed a knack for political maneuvers. Last month, each candidate picked a number to determine who’s name would appear first on the ballot. Incumbent Baker chose number one, presuming it would earn him the top spot on the ballot. However, Baker, the challenger, followed up by choosing zero, a designation that put his name first on the ballot. The approach worked, until Baker, the incumbent cried foul, forcing the city to hold a blind drawing to determine ballot order.