Forget Fletcher, Get Behind Bob

by on June 13, 2011 · 18 comments

in Election, Popular, San Diego, Under the Perfect Sun

As the mayor’s race continues to unfold, the election season rite of local Republicans trying to morph themselves into “moderates” palatable to the ever-malleable Democratic electorate in San Diego continues. The most recent example of this is Nathan Fletcher’s announcement that he is coming back from Sacramento to save San Diego. As reported in the Union Tribune and KPBS Fletcher has a vision:

When I look at the city I see an amazing potential for the future of San Diego over the next decade and I believe I represent a new generation of leadership that can get us there . . . In a lot of ways, I think it’s going to take a new energy, a new vision, a new generation of leadership that’s not tied to some of the polarizations and problems of the past to get things done . . . It’s time to turn the page, time for a new vision, a new energy, time for a new generation of leaders not tied to the gridlock or problems of the past to step forward and lead.”

Congressman Bob Filner

This all sounds fantastic and, with his handsome looks and slick packaging, Fletcher is bound to be more appealing to some voters than the snarling pit-bull of the hard right, Carl DeMaio, and/or the stunningly uncharismatic establishment favorite Bonnie Dumanis (who has the endorsement of the mayor and Councilman Kevin Faulconer). Even some in progressive circles have been seduced by Fletcher’s “new generation” pitch.

The problem with this is that it completely ignores Fletcher’s record on the central state issue that he has had to deal with during his time in the Assembly —the state budget. As I noted in a previous column, nearly every single Republican in the legislature has signed Grover Norquist’s “no new taxes” pledge. Fletcher is one of them. Thus, on the most important issue at the state level, Fletcher stands with Norquist and the “starve the beast crowd.”

Rather than compromise on Governor Brown’s budget proposal and allow the voters to decide whether or not to extend current taxes to avoid catastrophic cuts on top of the nearly $12 billion in cuts that have already been made, Fletcher lined up behind Norquist and the hard-line anti-tax crew.

Hence far from being a “new generation” leader who stands above “gridlock” and “polarization,” Fletcher is part of the gridlock and polarization that plagues our politics. By aligning himself with Norquist and the anti-tax zealots in Sacramento, Fletcher has harmed education, social services, public safety, and fire protection in San Diego. Anyone who follows politics knows that when the budget gets cut in Sacramento, it gets passed on to the cities. So if Fletcher is coming back to save us, he’s saving us from a problem he helped perpetuate by starving the cities of funding.

Fletcher likes to talk about education, but the Republican budget plan he supported proposed to spare education by gutting state spending on services for the mentally ill, the poor, and children (not to mention firing more state workers, of course). Nobody seriously expected it to pass, but it was a clever Machiavellian ploy that played on fears about children’s educations while pitting their education funding against services for the weak with no constituency or lobby.

At base, it was a cruel budget proposal just as the Republican strategy at the statewide level has been merciless for some time now. So Nathan may be pretty, but his policy is neither nice, nor progressive by any reasonable standard. The minute Fletcher votes for any revenue increase, he’ll deserve some consideration for the moderate label. Until then, it’s a sham.

You can’t starve the beast and then claim you’re here to save it. Fletcher just can’t have it both ways—unless enough San Diego voters are dumb enough to let him get away with it.

But cheer up, San Diego! Bob Filner is in the race for mayor. With Filner, San Diegans will have a chance to elect a genuine progressive with a long, strong record—from his Mississippi Freedom Rider days to his vote against the Iraq War. He has been a friend of labor, veterans, the environment, and has always been a dependable progressive vote in the house. He also has experience in city government so he knows how the game works. I know it’s not sexy; it’s just a historical fact. If elected, Filner would be the most progressive mayor in the history of the city—not that there is a long line of them, but he’d be the best this generation has seen.

Democrats need to Dump Dumanis and Dunk DeMaio

As of this writing the most recent polling (Survey USA) puts DeMaio on top of the pack with 22% of the vote. He is followed by Dumanis with 15% of the vote. Filner is currently at 14% of the vote and Fletcher gets 7%. The same poll also puts unannounced candidates Christine Kehoe (12%) and Steve Francis (4%) in the mix. “Other” gets 6% and 14% are undecided.

Anyone who still thinks that Carl DeMaio is a populist “reformer” rather than a hard-right ideologue needs to dial down their medical marijuana consumption (and read my Wisconsin of the West columns). Fear him. He will keep his base of mean-spirited right-wingers.

Dumanis, on the other hand, is probably drawing away some Democratic women and moderate decline to state voters, just as Fletcher will draw away Democrats with his “moderate” packaging (it was precisely this phenomenon of straying Democrats that helped Sanders beat Frye).

If Filner can pick up enough of those straying Democrats, he’ll make the run-off and has a solid shot to beat DeMaio who will most likely rub people the wrong way the longer he is in the spotlight (or beat Dumanis if DeMaio crashes and burns as many predict will happen).

The great question is whether San Diego’s long history of hermaphroditic Democratic behavior will continue, and we will end up with a race between Republican and Republican-lite where progressives have very little at stake, or whether the Democratic base unites around one candidate and progressives have a real choice.

This will never happen though because San Diego is such a conservative city, right? Think again. If you look at the registration numbers countywide, the Republicans and Democrats are tied at 36% of the registered voters with the Republicans leading with 523,060 registered voters to the Democrats’ 518,080. But when you look at the city of San Diego, Democrats account for 41% of the registered voters to the Republicans’ 29%. Decline to state voters account for 25% of the city’s electorate.

Thus, the problem is not that Democrats are heavily outnumbered by Republicans: it is that Democrats either don’t vote, or are seduced into voting for Republican-lite candidates in “nonpartisan” races. A solid base turnout for Filner combined with less than half of the decline to state voters, on the other hand, would boot the Republicans out of the mayor’s office for the first time in a long while.

Whither Kehoe?

The wild card in all of this is whether or not Christine Kehoe jumps into the race. If she does, will she take some of the vote away from Dumanis and thus help Filner? Will she split the Democratic vote and knock both herself and Filner out of the run-off? Or will she pick up some of Filner’s vote and make the run-off herself? It remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie Russell June 13, 2011 at 10:05 am

Interesting time. This morning I published a piece on the San Diego mayoral race and how a city race impacts the State murder rate, (which I suspect might be true throughout the nation.)

It’s a tangled web that once unraveled, clearly shows how crime prevention isn’t a factor in San Diego.


Patty Jones June 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

Interesting to note that in the current (@10:07 PDT) OB Rag poll, “If the mayoral election for San Diego was held today, which candidate would you vote for?” Bob Filner is leading with 28% of the vote, Donna Frye is second with 24% and Christine Kehoe is coming in third with 23%.


RB June 13, 2011 at 12:23 pm

It would be interesting to see if Kehoe runs on her record.
She was part of the city council that created the pension and budget mess.


Bonnie Russell June 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Well, early polling is famous for not being correct, however, if Senator Kehoe is going to run on her past, local experience….the pension debacle would factor in. Not that it matters. Look at what Casey Gwinn got away with.

In all, Gwinn’s redacted calendar lists 52 meetings related to the Family Justice Center, Camp Hope or other domestic-violence issues for the six months between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2004, when the city’s problems were coming to a head in public.

Not protecting women at his non-profit that purports to end Domestic violence. I remember he spent a great deal of his time while city attorney, lobbying to make the national franchise Family Justice Center…and was then sued.


RB June 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I am no fan of Casey Gwinn, but he is not running for mayor. Kehoe and every member of the city council, that caused this pension and budget mess, is responsible in part for the lack of social services for women and every other group in this city.


Bonnie Russell June 13, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I understand. My point with Casey Gwinn is his continuing illusion over providing services when the reality is the Family Justice Center is against GPS with Victim Notification which is, in a word, insane. Or, in two words: Completely Insane.

And no kind of Justice. But Gwinn’s certainly no worse than spineless family court judges who refuse to protect victims in family court. Not to put too fine a point on it. :)


Mike Thomason June 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm

5D’s! I love that!
Dems Dump Dumanis Dunl DiMaio!!


Mike Thomason June 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Whoops! Sorry! My Bad! Spell Check!

Should read
Dems Dump Dumanis Dunk DiMaio

Mea Culpa!


MIke June 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I’m sorry guys. There is NO WAY I could EVER support a fool like Filner. I think he is a hot-headed maniac.
At least Carl Demaio never attacked a TSA agent at the aiport. Who is mean-spirited?
Oh well, I’m sure everyone will be one the uber-leftist bandwagon and elect some idiot who will further bankrupt this city.


doug porter June 14, 2011 at 8:09 am

let’s see… the two moves that most analysts credit for “bankrupting” this city’s pensions: the 1996 GOP Convention (funding was diverted for support services) and the construction of PETCO Park. Yup, those are real uberleftist causes. (and, yes, I know some dems supported those moves).
Of course the other 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to the City’s finances was the collapse of the US economy, caused in large part by the “de-regulation” of the banking industry, another failed right-wing economic policy.


RB June 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

This city was bankrupted by people not events. It is worth remembering that three different city union leaders (not known for right wing activities) were voting members of the pension board when they ignored their fiduciary responsibilities and lowered the city’s required pension contributions.

Also, the repeal of Glass-Steagall or the deregulation of the banking industry occurred under Clinton (not usually identified with right wing economic policies).
San Diego was $2 billion in the hole well before the current economic collapse. The city was identified as ‘Enron by the Sea’ in 2004.


Allen Lewis June 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

You know,I haven’t liven in OB or San Diego for many years, but I must say WHY THE HELL are we voting???? all of the people in office and running for are a bunch of PRICKS!!!! don’t you get it. When I lived in OB we were about dealing with real issues, know all I see is ….WOW!!! there’s a StarBuck’s n our town.


Allen Lewis June 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Sorry about the spelling in my last Post, but I must say… no affiance to you “Frank,” I wash more people like you would run for office….


Allen Lewis June 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm

OK, have to add Bonnie Russell, I just looked at her web sit, and as stoned as I am… I’m thinken she’s the real deal.


Bonnie Russell June 14, 2011 at 5:48 am

To Allen: I try. And Thanks for making me laugh first thing in the morning. :)


Laurie Macrae June 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

Analysis of Nathan Fletcher right on. Filner has an impeccable record. Other Dems need to relinquish old grudges and get on board. Talk about no charisma, Ms Kehoe?

Didn’t Bonnie Dumanis fail to prosecute the murderer of a young woman student at City College when she had him in custody? Or do I mis-remember that one?


Bonnie Russell June 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

Well, “failed” is being kind when in fact Bonnie Dumanis flat out refused….but hounded Cynthia Sommers.

For a little more on that case and Bonnie and other bad DAs, go here.


John P. Falchi June 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I agree with most of the fine analysis of the San Diego Mayor’s Race as given by Jim Miller. Just as they did to Donna Frye a few years ago the establishment will try to demonize Bob Filner who has a fine progressive record in Washington, and he must be prepared for that. He should start to build his platform for the future of San Diego before they do that for him. Taking stands on some of the major issues of the day like plans to build a new City Hall, a New Library, and a New Chargers Stadium would be a start. Plans to renovate Balboa Park with proposals like the Jacobs Plan to change the Cabrillo Bridge to re-route traffic equal another. Moreover, ideas about how to handle the Pension Mess would be important, too. I believe that Bob Filner has the name recognition and the fund raising ability to stand up to whoever the opposition comes up with, provided that we turn out the Democratic Base.


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