Filner’s endorsement of Scott Peters for 52nd Congressional District sets up dilemma for progressives. Peters fails to reciprocate.
It’s tough being a progressive in San Diego – known for its conservatism and military-influenced politics. It’s been years since the City by the bay had a Democrat for mayor, and it’s rare that true liberals or progressives actually get elected to local office. It does occur – but not often.
That’s why progressives, liberals, and Democrats have been encouraged by Bob Filner’s bid for the City’s highest executive office. If elected, Filner would not only be the first Democrat since Maureen O’Connor had the seat, but he would clearly also be the most liberal mayor the city has ever had in its history. This would – in some eyes – be a god-send.
One of the reasons it’s so tough being a progressive politician in this town and county is that Democrats often go after each other or support Republicans. For instance, in the mayoral race, heavy-weight Dem and former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk came out early for DA Bonnie Dumanis – without waiting to see what Dems were running.
So, over the course of the last couple of days, progressives in town have been thrown into yet another dilemma. Why? Well, the liberal’s darling Filner has just come out and endorsed Port Commissioner Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District. Peters is in engaged in the primary race for Republican Brian Bilbray’s seat with him and fellow Democrat Lori Saldana, recently from the California Assembly.
It terms of politics, Saldana is way more liberal and progressive than Peters. She backed the Occupy Wall Street movement, while Peters sat on the Port Commission, garnering his power. Yet, Filner – while touting his civil rights history and positioning himself as the David against the Goliath GOP establishment – is now backing the more conservative of the two Demos running for Congress in that district.
Why is he doing this? Well, for one thing, the center-piece of his campaign is the expansion of San Diego’s Port District. And he got Peters to jump on that bandwagon. Peters has San Diego connections – he sat on the City Council before going over to the Port – and he has money.
Yet, this endorsement by Filner has big-time risks. First, he couldn’t get a reciprocal endorsement from Peters. What? Filner came out and says ‘yes’ on Peters, but Peters has the audacity of not returning the favor? Peters said he has lots of friends running for mayor. Lots of friends, just not DeMaio. Really?
And second, and this could be a biggie … recent polling shows Saldana outpacing Peters. Lori is touting a new survey:
A new survey conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) shows Lori Saldaña leading the field among Democratic contenders in the upcoming June 5th primary, including Scott Peters, and moving to within a statistical dead heat of Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray as voters learn more about her.
Meanwhile, not willing to be undone by swapping endorsements, Saldana has come out and endorsed Filner for mayor. And to top that off, another darling of American progressives, Howard Dean, will be in town this month to host a fundraiser for her.
Once again, San Diego progressives are split. Saldana is liked by a whole shelf load of liberals, environmentalists, labor activists, peace-niks, and progressives. They could really be pissed off with this Filner endorsement of her opponent. On this issue, at least, he has ignored his liberal base in order to firm up more traditional support around the City.
We’ll see if this works. Stay tuned.