By Ken StoneA day after Mike Harrison announced he was quitting the race for the open 71st Assembly District seat, local TV figure Leo Hamel indicated he was jumping in.
“Today jeweler Leo Hamel — also a Republican — pulled nomination papers at the Registrar of Voters, with just days to spare before this Friday’s filing deadline,” said a post on sdrostra.com, a conservative blog.
“Hamel, a well-known face on local TV with his Leo Hamel Fine Jewelry ads, often including his family, has long been considered a potential East County candidate.”
Santee Mayor Randy Voepel was considered the front-runner to succeed termed-out Brian Jones in the East County district.
In a comment posted late Tuesday night, Eric Andersen said: “To say Leo is passionate about limited government and free markets would be an understatement. Very few are more passionate than myself. He might be one. There is a bold color before us. No pale pastel here.”
Andersen said Hamel, 59, would appear at a Republican Liberty Caucus event Thursday. (The group’s site says it meets at Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.)
In a 2008 Ranch and Coast magazine profile, Hamel is said to have started his company in 1980 “with fine estate jewelry, mint condition pre-owned watches and competitive prices on loose diamonds and engagement rings.”
Hamel, with a a half-dozen stores in the county, was called San Diego’s largest buyer of pre-owned jewelry, scrap gold, coins, sterling silverware and fine watches.
His LinkedIn profile says Hamel worked out of a briefcase after a short-lived stint selling jewelry in San Diego’s largest department store.
“Leo was fired several times for bending the rules to give his customers a better shopping experience,” the profile said, “but was always rehired for being the top salesman. His boss at the time ‘suggested’ that he start his own business. So with $125 in his pocket, he ventured out on his own.”
In March 2012, Hamel sued his partner in a La Mesa private school on Jackson Drive called Day-McKellar Prep School. He sought close to $500,000 that he said Cara Day-McKellar owed him as a stake in the closed school.
In February 2014, San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor dismissed the case, saying both sides failed to appear at the previous two hearings.
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