The Endorsement That Hasn’t Happened Yet (But Still Could)
Lori Saldana vs Scott Peters for the 52nd Congressional District seat. This should be a no-brainer, right?
Saldana’s taken on the big boys twice in races for the California Legislature and won against long odds. She’s been endorsed by scads of nationally recognized progressive organizations, from Act Blue to the National Organization for Women. Her voting record in the California Assembly showed smarts, a determination to get the right things done and the courage to say “no” when it could be politically damaging. The right wingers loathe her, starting with the minutemen and ending with the “open carry” people. Her campaign is “grassroots” all the way. She does not suffer fools lightly.
Peters, on the other hand, is a highly likeable, handsome mostly centrist democrat. His campaign has scads of money. He is the personification of what a certain Mayoral candidate who-will-not-be-named calls a ‘downtown insider’, having served on the City Council and been appointed to the Port Commission, a plum job if there ever was one. He gives the impression of being ‘connected’ and a ‘take charge kind of guy’. He’s personally wealthy and has flooded the market with TV ads touting his appreciation for the middle class. He’s also running Facebook ads that tout him as the “progressive who can win”.
Both candidates are running against incumbent Brian Bilbray (R), who has been deemed vulnerable his year due to redistricting. Under California’s new election laws, the top two candidates regardless of party in the June election will face off against each other come November. There is also a tea party candidate in the race for the 52nd seat, but the consensus among local observers is that Bilbray is not in danger from the right. So that means that it will either be Saldana or Peters vs Bilbray in the fall election.
Given that Lori is the more activist of the two Democrats, it might seem logical to assume that progressives in San Diego are united in their support for Saldana. However, that is not the case. What we have here in this race has turned into a rather nasty contest that in my mind has the potential to mark whoever wins the Democratic slot as damaged goods. It’s personal, with advocates on both sides talking on Twitter about the “haters” on the opposing team. Charges and counter-charges have been leveled, many of them with an air of truthiness about them that promises to linger long past June fifth. If you want to see the mud slinging on this race, go to were the muck is: the UT San Diego’s comments. Search out articles on Saldana or Peters and scroll down the page until the stank starts and you’ll see this infighting in all its glory.
We’ve seen this before in San Diego, where the Democratic candidates prove to be their party’s worst enemies and the Republicans merely need to show up to win the actual election. I know people on both sides of this chasm and cannot fathom what either side thinks it gains by allowing its supporters to engage in such conduct. I do not understand why either Democrat here has wasted time attacking the other Democrat in this race. The only poll out there shows Bilbray beating them both, although Saldana –despite his Facebook ads–polls higher than Peters.
We at the OB Rag have not yet had a full discussion on whether we should come out with a full- throated endorsement of Lori Saldana. Such decisions don’t come easy for us, given that many of our interactions are of the virtual persuasion and the need of some folks to get up to speed on whoever we’re focusing on. Such an endorsement could happen or not.
We find ourselves divided in this instance. Our writer who covered the Saldana – Peters race started out thinking that Lori was the better candidate and ended up disappointed in her campaign performances. Other folks reflect the divide that this race has caused among labor groups, with the teacher types favoring Saldana for her activist history and progressive voting record and the trade union types favoring Peters because they feel he’ll be more likely to bring home the bacon and thus generate more jobs.
For me, the choice is clear. I don’t care about having a beer or liking either candidate. Frankly, most politicians give me the creeps in person. I don’t care about whether or not they will play nice with the opposite (or even their own) party should they go to Washington; the so-called center in American politics has shifted so far to the right, it’s about time we elected a few more Democrats with a backbone. I do care about a candidate’s actual track record on the job, and Lori Saldana’s record in my opinion is the best of the bunch.
I’ve met Ms. Saldana several times at conferences and political events. I wouldn’t say our relationship is close—I doubt that she could pick me out of police line-up—but I would say that I always came away impressed by her intellectual abilities and her core activist values. She is a fighter and I like that.
So I voted for Lori and hope you will too. And I will vote for either Democrat on the ballot against Bilbray come November.