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Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale announced that she has dropped out of the race for Assembly District 21, citing the race’s toll on her mental health and her family’s happiness.

Hale claimed she has faced a smear campaign costing some $1.2 million as the race has worn on, receiving campaign mail “almost daily” that she said included “lies and attacks.” Hale argued that she was attacked largely by big money industries, corporations and political groups that favor more moderate Democratic candidates.

She added that her 5-year-old daughter regularly saw online advertisements on YouTube videos attacking Hale and that her 8-year-old daughter’s classmate brought an attack campaign mailer to school.

Hale said she had been able to compartmentalize the attacks, but the resulting stress on her daughters as well as her husband from antagonistic advertisements drove her to end her campaign for the seat, which includes the eastern parts of San Mateo County.

“You don’t have to look hard in politics to find people willing to do or say anything to get elected,” Hale said in a July 22 Twitter post. “But that’s not me. Ultimately my decision came down to protecting the three people who matter the most to me.”

Hale pointed to antagonistic advertisements funded by independent expenditure committees like Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, a moderate-favoring group funded in part by Chevron, the pharmaceutical industry and utility companies, as well as the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords and rental housing owners.

According to Hale, who is a registered Democrat, some of the ads argued that she was not a lifelong Democrat because she had not formally registered as a member of the party until 2018. Hale noted that she was a vocal protester during the early days of the Trump administration and that she worked on former President Barack Obama’s campaigns for president.

The ads also drew links between her and former President Donald Trump, according to Hale, because she auditioned for Trump’s former television show, “The Apprentice,” in 2005.

“It just did not seem fair to me to put (my family) through” more attack ads, Hale said in a phone conversation Monday. “Our family’s already been through a lot of other things. That shouldn’t be the price of participating in democracy.”

“Our family’s already been through a lot of other things. That shouldn’t be the price of participating in democracy.”

Giselle Hale

Hale finished second in the June 7 primary for the seat, garnering roughly 20 percent of the vote. San Mateo Deputy Mayor Diane Papan, also a Democrat, received 41.3 percent in the primary.

Papan, in a statement on Hale’s decision, acknowledged her erstwhile general election opponent only in a blanket “thank you” message to “each and every one of the primary election candidates for putting their visions forward to the people of San Mateo County.

“There is significant, essential work to be done in these challenging times,” Papan said. “Now is the time to unify and work together in the fight to pass California’s Proposition 1 to protect abortion and access to contraceptives; protect all Californians against the dangers of wildfire and drought; and invest in new housing. I am ready for the fight ahead in service to the residents and families in AD 21.”

Papan is now virtually guaranteed election to the seat as the only candidate remaining in the race. The general election will be held Nov. 8.