Former California Gov. Pete Wilson endorsed Republican State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for mayor of San Diego.

“I love San Diego.  I’m very grateful to have been given the privilege of serving as its mayor for eleven years.  During my administration, the phrase, “America’s Finest City” was more than a slogan.  It was the goal and mission statement that drove every decision we made,” Wilson said in a statement released via email Wednesday by Fletcher’s campaign office.  “Our city continues to offer such great  promise, but it will need strong, enlightened leadership to realize its full potential.  That’s why I’m supporting Nathan Fletcher for mayor of San Diego.  He has the judgment, energy, and integrity to deliver on that promise. He represents a new generation of leadership we need to solve unsolved problems and triumph over new challenges.”

Wilson, a Republican, served as the 36th Governor of California (1991–1999), the culmination of more than three decades in the public arena that included eight years as a U.S. Senator (1983–1991), 11 years as Mayor of San Diego (1971–1982) and four years as a California State Assemblyman (1967–1971).

Fletcher was elected the state Assembly in 2008  representing California’s 75th District, which includes Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo and Rancho Peñasquitos, the City of Poway and other areas.

Other announced candidates for the San Diego Mayor’s position include Republican San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, Republican District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat representing San Diego.  State Sen. Christine Kehoe, a Democrat, is exploring a run for the office as well.

The primary election will be June 5, 2012.  If any candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she wins the mayoral race; otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to a general-election runoff in November.

Both Wilson and Fletcher are former U.S. Marines.

“Being mayor demands the leadership qualities  Nathan has in abundance.  He is tough-minded and will make tough decisions.  His skills and experience prepare him well to be the Chief Executive of San Diego.   Nathan’s experience in preparation for this office is much like my own.  We both served in the Marines, and then in the state Legislature.  I was only a little older than Nathan when I ran for mayor,” Wilson’s endorsement continued.  “The Marine Corps taught me to lead and to make tough decisions under pressure.  Nathan’s Marine career put him in a leadership position at the tip of the spear in our nation’s fight against international terrorism, and his record of distinguished service confirms he learned those lessons well and performed admirably.

“The state Legislature taught me  the consensus-building skills I utilized to get things done after I was elected mayor.  The same has been true in spades for Nathan, who brilliantly  brought together an unlikely coalition of Democrats and Republicans to secure passage of Chelsea’s Law, along with  his many other legislative accomplishments.  But perhaps the most important characteristic that Nathan and I share is a core belief that our city is destined for greatness.

“When I initiated San Diego’s downtown redevelopment, nay-sayers said we were wasting our time; that a vibrant center city and sunny, laid-back San Diego just couldn’t be reconciled.   The evidence to the contrary is now on display for everyone to see.   Many of those same people said San Diego would never be able to counter Southern California suburban sprawl and sensibly manage growth.  But we adopted one of the nation’s first and most successful growth management plans, providing much better, more efficient, and less costly delivery of essential city services.

“Nathan shares my belief that innovation, fresh ideas and a willingness to think outside the box are critical to moving our city forward.  That’s why I know he will be a great mayor for our great city.  I am proud to be part of his team,” Wilson concluded in the statement.