Tony ‘The Tiger’ Lopez kicks off campaign for Sacramento mayor

Tony “The Tiger” Lopez
Tony “The Tiger” Lopez Sacramento Bee file

Three-time world boxing champion Tony “The Tiger” Lopez officially kicked off his campaign for Sacramento mayor Friday evening at a restaurant near the state Capitol.

In front of several dozen supporters at Vallejo’s restaurant at 11th and O streets, Lopez said he would challenge former state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby in the June 2016 primary election.

Lopez, 52, has cast himself as the non-politician in the race. He said his half-century as a Sacramento resident gives him a comprehensive knowledge of the city.

“If you’re from Sacramento, you know Sacramento,” Lopez said. “You know the problems in Sacramento.”

Among the major issues facing the city, he said, are homelessness, drugs and gangs; an aging population; and the need for greater downtown and riverfront development.

Lopez said he would call on a wide circle of acquaintances to help solve those problems.

“I know everybody,” he said.

Lopez is a Republican; Steinberg and Ashby are Democrats. More than half of registered voters in the city of Sacramento are Democrats, while about 20 percent are Republicans. Steinberg already has a campaign war chest of about $1.4 million, and both he and Ashby have attracted influential endorsements.

A political novice, Lopez was a three-time world champion in the late 1980s and early 1990s, becoming one of the city’s biggest celebrities at the time. He now runs Tony “The Tiger” Bail Bonds on F Street near the downtown courthouse.

His campaign plans to use social media to raise funds and awareness of his candidacy.

On Friday evening, Lopez also responded briefly to concerns about public posts on his personal Facebook page, since made private, that criticized President Barack Obama, gun control efforts and burqas, the all-covering garments worn by some Muslim women.

One featured a picture of Obama and said: “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at the family reunion.”

Lopez said most of the items were re-posts of images that others had put on Facebook and that he found amusing.

“I thought it was funny,” he said. “Big deal.”

Steinberg told Capital Public Radio on Friday that Lopez’s posts, particularly about banning burqas, “have no place in our community” and “If you want to be (Donald) Trump, go somewhere else.” On Saturday, Steinberg said in a text message that he didn’t want to comment further on Lopez’s campaign because “I’m focused on my own positive campaign.”

The Bee’s Sammy Caiola contributed to this report. Hudson Sangree: 916-321-1191, @hudson_sangree