Mailer financed by Carl DeMaio's Reform California PAC touts Sidiqa Hooker.
Mailer financed by Carl DeMaio’s Reform California PAC touts Sidiqa Hooker.

Sidiqa Hooker, strumming an acoustic guitar, sang “When I’m gone” by 3 Doors Down in 2011, competing in a statewide Distinguished Young Women contest.

On YouTube, she crooned:

There’s another world inside of me
That you may never see
There’re secrets in this life
That I can’t hide

Hooker, then a Preuss School student and a San Diego Junior Miss, couldn’t know that a decade later, at 27, she’d be running for the county Board of Supervisors, challenging fellow Democrat and chair Nathan Fletcher in District 4, where he is heavily favored.

But her life still holds secrets.

Some politics-watchers are scratching their heads and calling foul on Hooker and her Republican funder.

Fletcher’s wife, Lorena Gonzalez, shouts that conservative radio host Carl DeMaio is using his Reform California PAC to send out mailers on behalf of Hooker, claiming without evidence that “DEMOCRATS SUPPORT” the attractive Black woman.

Everything I am
And everything in me
Wants to be the one
You wanted me to be

Reform California has spent at least $12,000 on mailers boosting her candidacy — even though DeMaio backs Republican candidate Amy Reichert, endorsed by the local GOP and Libertarian Party.

One political observer contacted by Times of San Diego said DeMaio wrongly believed Democrats would see a young Black woman and vote for her over a white man.

DeMaio “thinks voters are dumb,” said the observer, offered anonymity. “He hopes to split the Dem vote, and make the runoff look closer, which helps him raise more money for himself. He thought he could act [as if] Amy Reichert has a shot in November to keep money coming in.”

District 4 is nearly 50% Democrat and 18% Republican, say the latest county figures.

Sidiqa Hoover voting and party registration history. (PDF)

DeMaio and Hooker didn’t respond to requests for comment. But Reichert, the ReOpen San Diego leader, said she never knew about Hooker until just before filing for the race.

“I was at the Registrar of Voters picking up a map of District 4,” Reichert said. “I went upstairs to chat with Amber, a clerk for the county. … The signup sheet for the day was on the counter and that is when I saw that Sidiqa Hooker had signed in for District 4.”

Reichert asked the clerk if Hooker worked for Fletcher, since his name was right below hers on the signup sheet. The clerk said no — that Hooker was there to pull papers for herself as a candidate.

“Because there was only a couple days until the filing date, my reaction was surprise,” Reichert said, adding that she’s never had a discussion with DeMaio or the GOP.

Hooker, named Scholar Athlete of The Year in 2011 at La Jolla’s Preuss School, later played soccer for UC Merced and attended UC Riverside, where she earned a bachelor’s in sociology.

Back in San Diego, the LinkedIn “diversity inclusion coordinator” first registered as a Democrat.

But according to county records, Hooker re-registered as a Republican in August 2020 and again in August 2021 before reverting to Dem in March 2022. (Fletcher once was a Republican Assembly member, but became an independent and then a Democrat.)

Hooker voted as a Democrat in the 2016 and 2020 presidential primaries.

But in early 2021, she wrote at least five articles for San Diego News Desk, an arm of the San Diego County Republican Party.

Under the byline Sidiqa Atira (her middle name), Hooker wrote about San Diego schools chief Cindy Marten and her nomination to a federal post: “At the end of the day, what Marten’s time as Superintendent of SDUSD has proven is that she has no business holding a major educational leadership position.”

Hooker, writing about Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, said that instead of keeping the public safe from dangerous criminals, he “quickly turned LA County’s legal system into a stage for his political agenda.”

Her party registration shows she lives in the Bankers Hill area of San Diego.

Gonzalez, in a series of tweets, said Hooker was affiliated with the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, posting a photo of Hooker at a TPUSA event.

Indeed, when Hooker announced her D4 race on Facebook, Berkley Corey commented: “Yay omg!!! So proud of you!!! 💋💕🥰”

Corey lists herself as “Hollywood College Field Representative at Turning Point USA Careers,” president of the UC Santa Barbara Chapter at American Conservation Coalition and membership director at UCSB College Republicans.

She may have known Hooker from her time as “Executive Junior Political Coordinator at Republican Party of San Diego County.”

Hooker has barely posted about her race since that April 21 post, and her Twitter feed (with only 10 followers) is almost void of campaign chatter.

Her campaign website, built on the free Wix platform, has rudimentary information — and lists no endorsements or a calendar of events. But her sparse Instagram feed features a Carl DeMaio-style “warning” about Fletcher wanting the public to pay a “$600 mileage tax.”

She did respond to a tweeted accusation that Hooker is “Candace Owens 2.0,” a Black woman who changed from a Trump foe to Republican activist.

Hooker denied that suggestion and said: “You have no idea who I am. But you can find out on 🙂”

Hooker has advertised no public appearances and given few interviews. The San Diego Union-Tribune said Hooker “did not respond to repeated requests” to complete its 10-question survey. She has no statement in the San Diego County voter pamphlet.

Three days ago in the San Diego Reader, conservative writer Eric Bartl said Hooker told him she is a Democrat who wants to “bridge the gap” between Democrats and Republicans.

“Both parties value entrepreneurship, women-owned businesses…the importance of family…the love of God and going to church…the need for everyone to have equal access to opportunity,” Hooker told him. “I will never support the division. We’ve come too far as a country, and it feels as if we are moving backward.”

Without Hooker in the race, the Reichert-Fletcher match would have rolled over to a November runoff — saving both money.

Hooker isn’t dipping into her savings, but she recently spent time answering questions from College Times Courier, part of the San Diego Community Newspaper Group.

Its final question was: “What is one good thing you would say about your opponents running for the seat?”

Hooker replied: “I respect Amy Reichert’s overcoming some personal challenges and her desire to make San Diego a cleaner place. I appreciate Nathan Fletcher’s military service to our country; I also believe his wife Lorena is a strong woman.”

Right me when I’m wrong
You can hold me when I’m scared
You won’t always be there
So love me when I’m gone