by Ethan Stewart
The horse race for District Attorney had been agreeably bland to this point, with most forecasters picking current Assistant DA Christie Stanley to win in a relative landslide. But bland took a turn for the bizarre last week for DA hopeful Gary Dunlap when former Santa Maria City Council candidate Anthony Romero, an ardent Dunlap supporter seen lately driving a 40-foot RV plastered with “Dunlap for DA” signs, was stabbed in the chest on the evening of May 18 while standing outside his parked RV in Santa Maria. Although his alleged assailant reportedly told police he stabbed Romero in self-defense, the case was thrown out last week by North County Deputy DA Mag Nicola, who cited insufficient evidence, conflicting accounts, and an uncooperative victim. Conspiracy theorists and bloggers speculated the stabbing was related to the colorful Dunlap’s $10 million federal lawsuit against the DA’s office, while Dunlap was quick to call the incident “another instance of the DA’s incompetence.” Romero was unavailable for comment. At a candidates’ forum last week Stanley — who said she had no specific knowledge of the incident — expressed confidence that her deputy DA acted appropriately.