A San Diego Progressive’s Dilemma? Filner Endorses Peters Over Saldana.

by on May 2, 2012 · 14 comments

in Civil Rights, Election, Labor, Politics, Popular, San Diego

San Diego Port Commissioner Scott Peters with Congressman Bob Filner.

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.

Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

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.

Howard Dean, former governor, presidential candidate, and leader of the Democratic Party.

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter May 2, 2012 at 10:24 am

it’s election time. get all yer great coverage right here at the OBRag. good job as always, Frank.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

I’m really hoping, Doug, that we can provide the excellence in coverage that you provided in the 2010 election.


nunya May 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thank you Frank for this information.


dorndiego May 2, 2012 at 11:38 am

That Filner might have endorsed Peters because of Peters’ “connections – he sat on the City Council before going over to the Port – and he has money,” just begs the question: “What kind of money and what did Peters do at the City and the Port?” Sounds like Filner just stepped into the electability trap that always wears down so many Democrats. You know, politics is the art of “the deal.” Filner might have done Lori Saldana a favor; now she can run away from him.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Yet Saldana has endorsed Filner for mayor. So have a lot of locals.


Frank Gormlie May 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Personally, I’ll be with Bob Filner to the finish line. He has been one of the most liberal members of Congress, and has long histories here in San Diego, first on the school board, and then on the City Council. However, I think he should have waited until after the Primary to see which Democrat got into the General Election before making any endorsements.


nostalgic May 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm

It’s hard to like Filner. Easy to love Lori.


Taylor Leake May 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I’m not sure progressives are so split on Saldana vs. Peters. The recent poll you mentioned in the article shows Saldana has a HUGE lead over Peters among Democratic voters. She earns 38 percent of the vote among Democrats in the first vote, while Peters earns just 14 percent, for a near three-to-one advantage among Democrats.


Shelley Plumb May 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I find this very disappointing news. Yes, I will vote for Filner, but I will devote my energy and volunteer hours to get Lori Saldaña elected to Congress. Bad move, Bob.


barbaramartin May 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I like Bob and during the Bush years when so many of us were in DC being disrupters and general pain in the ass, he always had his office open to us, never failed to recognize us at hearings etc. I am profoundly saddened by this political decision he has made. It has taken some enthusiasm but not my vote.


MEden May 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Peters taks progressive but acts more like Bilbray – cutting Social Security & Medicare are NOT progressive positions. Opposing Prokect Labor agreements? Nope. Underfunding city pensions? Firestation furloughs? Yea more of a Bilbray than a Howard Dean. But, then Peters’ etch-a-sketch act seems altogether more like Mitt Romney. That is not much of a dilemma for progressives.


david krivasich May 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Pros n cons to all endorsements. Look at the picture, Filners endorsement will create thousands of middle class jobs along the port of san diego. From high paying construction, advertising, logistic, and not to forget longshoreman jobs which average $50,000- $150,000 a year.
Filners plans of expansion on port properties will create thousands of jobs and millions of $$$ for san diego.
We need to create good jobs for our own local san deagans.


OB law(yer) May 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

Remember folks, Mr. Romney has a nice pad up in La Jolla as well as Mr. Peters… why not keep the whole clump of them in power? They’ve done so well so far in making sure that San Diego has great jobs with living wages by attracting industry of innovation and production to our town? Ok.. Ok…. ha hah….sorrry. that was just to drag out the Republitrolls.

You can’t ‘stimulate’ the economy by just building stuff. We’ve proved this time and again. Real GDP growth comes from companies not governments. So no….. some big huge downtown masterplan of Casino, Football Stadium, larger convention center and emmbarcadero are NOT serving the people who actually live in this town.

We need to be endorsing candidates that will put the communities of San Diego back on the forefront, not just the Downtown Chamber of Commerce and the wanna-be 1%ers that run that Circus.

It is a sham that Filner is supporting Peters…..as he will FLIP FLOP like a champ after the Primary when Saldana clearly defeats the opposition….so don’t fret too much. This is a temporary endorsement….just like every political move.


Kathleen Connell May 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

The “friends” Peters doesn’t want to upset are a Republican and former Republican, niether of whom are Dems, much less progressive. Lori Saldana did the leaderly thing by endorsing Bob Filner because he will be better for San Diegians. To me she took the high road at a very difficult moment.


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