Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, a Democratic rising star with a national reach, is trailing in a reelection bid to an upstart Republican contender — a potential upset driven in part by a local social media page that has become a kingslayer if not a kingmaker in this San Joaquin Valley city.
Tubbs, the city’s first Black mayor and a favorite in progressive circles for championing ideas such as universal basic income, trailed Republican Kevin Lincoln 52% to 48%, though county officials said many mail-in ballots remained to be counted, leaving the possibility of a reversal.
Though Tubbs won his first mayoral election in 2016 with 70% of the vote and an endorsement from President Obama, this time he has been dogged by a social media page whose founder acknowledges he harbors a grudge against Tubbs — and which has hounded the incumbent, and other local political figures, with years of accusations of corruption and misdeeds.
Local political pundits said the 209 Times has clout with voters and damaged Tubbs’ reputation by attacking him with relentless, and unfounded, allegations of corruption.
“He was wounded by the 209 Times,” said Michael Fitzgerald, a former metro columnist for the Stockton Record who has followed local politics for three decades.
It “just created this false narrative about Tubbs, and they just kept pounding that narrative,” he said.
The 209 Times has run articles, often with no proof, alleging that Tubbs has misappropriated millions of dollars earmarked for city programs, lied about his involvement with an unpopular idea to use the county fairgrounds as part of a state-funded site for homeless people, and put personal interests ahead of his elected role.
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