Scott Peters shows his mettle in the 52nd Congressional District race

by on May 23, 2012 · 50 comments

in Columns, Election, Ocean Beach, Politics, Popular, San Diego

After careful consideration of the facts, the choice for this writer has become clear.

There has been an awful lot of handwringing and consternation regarding who should have the Democrats’ support in the 52nd District Congressional race.  There are three major candidates for the newly redrawn, Central San Diego district:  Democrats Scott Peters and Lori Saldaña, and incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray, formerly of the 50th Congressional District based in Coastal North San Diego County.

It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to figure out that Democrats are not going to support Bilbray, whose most accomplished moment as a member of Congress came when he told a national TV audience that you can tell illegal immigrants by “the kind of dress you wear, there’s different type…..right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes.”

Not exactly a shining moment for San Diego.  But really, what more should we expect from someone with nothing beyond a community college education?  Personally I prefer my elected officials—particularly at the federal level—to have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and a clear ability to understand the consequences of the legislation he supports, but maybe that’s just me.

Which leaves us with the two Democrats in the race:  Peters and Saldaña, two good, if somewhat flawed candidates (but who among us isn’t flawed?).  Trust me on this:  We could have done a lot worse than these two.  I am convinced that either candidate would represent San Diego well in Washington, D.C., but as in the “Highlander” movies, there can be only one.  In a perfect world we’d have both candidates advancing to the general election, but assuming that our presumptions are correct and that Bilbray will advance through the primary on June 5th, only one of them will be on the ballot on November 6th.

But which one?  Both have solid experience in elected politics.  Saldaña has the advantage of having worked in a caucus environment similar to the one she would encounter in the nation’s capitol, having served in the California State Assembly for six years.  Both candidates have been in strong leadership positions in their respective legislative bodies:  Saldaña having served as assistant majority whip and speaker pro-tem in the Assembly, and Peters having served as the city’s first City Council President.

Both candidates come from decidedly middle class backgrounds, and have a history of fighting for middle class values.

Lori Saldaña worked her way through school and has been a college professor both at the community college level and the University of California level.  Scott Peters has amassed a good deal of personal wealth, having been a successful litigator as an environmental attorney, a fact that he has been unjustly vilified for.  And it’s at this point where the campaign gets dicey for me.

As I’ve noted before, Saldaña is without a doubt the Progressive firebrand in this race.  She has the support of all of the far left organizations such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee,, and Emily’s List.  She is the candidate that most appeals to the far left wing of the Democratic base and has the most vocal and activist support.  Peters is a much more moderate candidate who adheres to core Democratic principles and is without a doubt a solid Democrat.  He is also the candidate who is more likely to appeal to a much broader base of voters.

It’s this last point that has sparked the most debate between supporters of the two candidates, and where Democrats run the risk of marginalizing themselves.  Peters has been attacked in this race for being too rich, for being too “corporoate,” for being “a plutocrat,” a “Republicrat.”  He’s not anti-big business enough; he’s not tough enough on environmental issues; he’s to chummy with the moneyed interests; in short, he’s not ideologically pure enough.

What we’re seeing is the application of a Democratic version of the ideological purity test, the same sort that led to the rise of the most extremely conservative and partisan Republicans in elected politics today.  Moderates in the Republican Party are a thing of the past; they no longer exist.  Democrats have been quick to condemn them for it, including myself on many, many occasions.  Yet here we are in the midst of Democrats making the same mistake, becoming more overtly partisan and less likely to be able to govern effectively.

Part of being a leader is having the ability to listen to those who disagree with you, even from within your own party—especially from within your own party.  Being a leader means having the courage to confront those with whom you disagree and taking the time and effort to convince them to change their mind.  Scott Peters does that.  Lori Saldaña does not.

Case in point:  At the beginning of April, I wrote a column that was highly critical of the approach Peters said he would take in dealing with Republican members of Congress.  I felt he was being naïve in his failure to acknowledge the extreme partisanship in Washington—particularly in the House of Representatives—and the fact that it’s simply not possible to negotiate with Congressional Republicans.  Several weeks later I requested an interview with Peters to give him a chance to respond.  In my own mind I thought it was the right thing to do.

Despite their trepidation, the Peters campaign agreed.  After reading through my comments following my piece, Peters’ campaign spokesperson emailed me saying “I’m no longer convinced this is going to be a good use of Scott’s time, but we will be there,” referring to the interview we had scheduled.  We sat down for almost an hour and I confronted him on a whole range of issues, including my initial criticisms.  He took the time and put in the effort to change this one, insignificant reporter’s mind.

Contrast that to the way Saldaña reacted when a writer from San Diego City Beat—hardly a bastion of right wing dogma–tweeted something she didn’t like.  The tweet in question:  “The ability to build consensus behind the scenes is the big diff.”  Now compare that one little innocuous tweet to the entire column I wrote about Scott Peters.  As a result, Saldaña pulled out of a long scheduled interview with City Beat for a 2,400 word story they had planned to publish in their print version about her and her campaign based on that meeting.  The resulting exchange in the comment section of a story on the weekly’s website showed a pettiness and a disdain for those who deviate in the slightest from her own ideology that should raise alarms to anyone who advocates for good governance.

It demonstrated that she is not one who works and plays well with others, regardless of party affiliation.

Scott Peters has a reputation for being a consensus builder; for being someone who can work to resolve complex differences and achieve results.  Lori Saldaña has a reputation for being combative and divisive.  The last thing San Diego needs in a representative in Congress is someone who will further divide this county.  We already have one of those.  We don’t need another.

There’s also the issue of electability.  Lori Saldaña has run a magnificent grassroots campaign, and she and her staff are to be commended for it.   But she is well behind in the money race, and she has not demonstrated the ability to raise enough funds to compete with the $787,000 Bilbray has sitting in the bank just waiting for the November general election.  It is also unlikely that her grassroots effort will be able to overcome the media blitz that would be coming her way.

Moreover, consider this:  If the Decline-to-State voters—who make up roughly one-third of the voters in the 52nd–are going to decide this election, will Saldaña be able to attract enough of them to put her over the top in November?  Probably not.  She will surely dominate amongst Democrats, but it is doubtful she’s the kind of candidate that is likely to appeal to middle-of-the road San Diegans who are exasperated by the bitter partisanship Saldaña will supply more of.

Scott Peters, on the other hand, is the kind of candidate who is more likely to appeal to those who have no direct ties to either political party.  He might even peel off some moderate Republicans who are less than impressed with Bilbray (they do still exist in San Diego).  And with $251,000 on hand compared to Saldaña’s $96,000, he will at least be able to compete on the airwaves, because whether we like it or not, the money does, and will matter.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with both candidates face-to-face at some length.  I listened to what each had to say.  I’ve asked questions of them both, and I’ve examined the major criticisms of both.  I’ve gotten a feel for who each candidate is.  I’ve parsed through where each stands on the major issues that matter most to the local voters.  I’ve also seen how each deals with their critics and with adversity.

After long and careful consideration of all of the facts in front of me, and after having initially supported Lori Saldaña, I have concluded that Scott Peters is the better choice to represent the 52nd Congressional District in San Diego.

mEden May 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

Cha-ching! Andy took the deal. Don’t sell out your vote Democrats, it’s not your style. A dullard with deep pockets is still a dullard and an easy 1st round knockout for Bilbray. A vote for the pension/budget/environment/promise-busting Peters is a vote for Brian Bilbray.

Nanci Oechsle May 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

I don’t know if it’s fair to make the comparison of left wing Democrats and right wing Republicans. In my opinion, most elected Democrats are willing to work across the isle in order to get work done. You can’t say that about Republicans. For the most part they just say NO, NO, NO. If Lori Saldana is elected to represent the 52nd, I know without a doubt she would get the job done of representing her district in a fair manor.

judi Curry May 23, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks for spelling it all out, Andy. It has been a difficult decision to make, because both candidates – sans Bilbray – are worthy of the office. But the scales tip a tiny bit more for one of the two candidates, and with your articles I had made up my mind where my “x” will go. (No…I won’t tell.)

Rick May 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

Linking Lori Saldana and Darrel Issa sets a new journalistic nadir.

Andy Cohen May 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

Polar opposites, same effect.

Don May 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I am not at all concerned with ideological purity. But what I am concerned about is a candidate that has the fire and passion in his/her belly to advocate for his or her beliefs in Congress. Frankly, the one good thing about Bilbray is that he appears to have no passion for his ideas and has shown no leadership in Congress.

In his endorsement of Lori Saldana last night, Governor Howard Dean emphasized that Lori has the passion and political skills necessary to assist President Obama and with any luck Speaker Pelosi in passing bills to support the Middle Class.

The decision between Lori and Scott was not an easy one for me either. With his wife’s money, Scott has provided significant contributions to the local party, local progressive politicians, and to our labor unions so I understood why the local party elders were throwing their support to Scott.

When both Scott and Lori came to our local Poway Democratic Club to seek our endorsement, I was probably leaning a little towards Scott because of all he has done monetarily for the Party. But during the discussion, I was struck by his lack of passion concerning the issues. They both seemed to have very similar positions, but Lori expressed why the issues were personally important to her and why they are so important to America. I believe she won our Club’s endorsement by her performance and frankly Scott may have lost it but his lackluster performance. I suspect that similar performances by Lori and Scott are the reason why Lori won the endorsement of every Democratic Club in the District.

After deciding to support Lori, I have not been disappointed. As you point out, Lori has run a magnificent grassroots campaign. And the reason is simple, she is a leader. The volunteers love to work for her because they witness her passion daily and when she asks you to canvass voters, you are excited to help her because you know that she is walking door to door with you.

Andy Cohen May 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm


I appreciate the whole “passion” angle. And I admit that it was one of the things I liked about Saldana in the beginning. But as I pointed out, my thoughts on the two candidates were formed through not only direct interaction with both candidates in my role as a reporter for this website, but through observing how the two candidates respond to adversity and to those with whom they disagree. Saldana tends to shut people who disagree with her off, and shut them out. I encourage you to take a look at the exchange she had with the City Beat guys as exhibit #1 (see the links provided). It’s very illuminating.

Peters, by contrast, welcomes discussion with critics and opponents; he’s not afraid to talk to people, which is a vital component of creating effective legislation that will benefit us on a local and national level. And yet he can still stand on his core principles (he actually has them, unlike Mitt Romney). Instead of simply playing the blame game–which does become necessary from time to time–he’ll at least work to bridge the divide first, whether he’s successful or not. Saldana, not so much. His approach actually takes a lot more courage.

Having passion is one thing, but in a setting like the US Congress, you still need to be able to work with people. One candidate is demonstrably better equipped for that than the other.

By the way: I didn’t sense any lack of passion in Scott Peters at all…..for what it’s worth.

mEden May 24, 2012 at 10:56 am

It’s now obvious that the City Beaters were in the tank for Peters early. They gave themselves away by lifting from his re-branding campaign. Yes, they went a little nuts about it, but it would have been a rookie move for Saldaña to give them an interview. Not every peripheral blogger is Ed Murrow. The City Beat is no Ramparts either.

doug porter May 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm

This thread has just gone over the top.
1) I’m the guy who wrote an endorsement of Lori Saldana for the OB Rag, so don’t go attacking me when I say:
2) I know the gang at CityBeat. I’ve criticized them for being too willing to play nice with Repubs. Sometimes I think that they have a bad case of ‘Sally Fields at the Oscars disease’: oh, please love me…. yada, yada
3) I don’t agree with the way they played the Lori Saldana thing; IMO if she had been a Republican, they wold have pressed their case and done the interview.
4) Never in a million years would I say they were in the tank for Peters. Unlike some of the skank that tries to pass itself off as newsmedia around this town, I would never say they are “in the tank” for anybody.
5) They were just wrong. And that’s different then being in the tank.

Andy Cohen May 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Doug, I could not disagree with you more here. First off, it was the Saldana campaign that pulled out of the interview with City Beat, not the other way around. And yes, they were pissed! Unlike us here at the Rag, where with an online only format we can publish anything we want any time we want with few time or space constraints, they had set aside a significant block in their PRINT version for her, and she pulled out at the last moment. That’s more than just a minor inconvenience. For a print publication, that’s a veritable catastrophe! So to say that “had she been a Republican they would have pressed their case and done the interview” is completely missing the point. She screwed them.

Also consider the context: She cancelled a long scheduled interview over an incredibly innocuous tweet. Someone asked a question, David Rolland responded. It was a tiny nothing of an incident that would have gone completely unnoticed had she not gone all Chernobyl.

Her rationale for cancelling and refusal to reschedule is laid out there in plain English for all to see in the comments section of the “Turds and Blossoms” column. Lori Saldana–or at least someone representing Lori Saldana’s campaign……it’s her facebook account that was used–participated in a lengthy exchange with Dave Maass and David Rolland, which they republished in a standalone piece. I’ve linked to both stories above. She laid it out there. It’s all there presumably in her own words. You cannot fault the City Beat guys for any of this. It was all quite petulant, really. And very revealing. They wouldn’t demonstrate that they were completely in the bag for her, and she decided she didn’t like it. There is nothing “principled” about that.

DAMN YOU PORTER!!! Just when I think I’m out, YOU GO AND PULL ME BACK IN!!!!

doug porter May 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm

my contention is that if CityBeat really wanted the interview they could have had it. Not getting the interview made for good copy (and that’s their right). I’ve read all the stories, i know what “he said” and “she said”. And I read all the tweets about it along the way.
I could be wrong, and obviously you think I am. But my main point in writing that comment was to strongly disagree with the notion that they were IN THE BAG for Scott Peters.
Now, go back to bed.

Rick May 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Like the OB Rag and the U-T?

Mildred May 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Difficult to work with? I feel this line is often used as code for women who are too opinionated. Focusing on personality rather than facts and votes is the only way to reach the illogical conclusion that Peters is the better candidate.

If Saldana’s personality was superimposed on a man, no one would be talking about it.

You assert that Peters is a consensus builder but give no examples. Saldana has co-chaired the bipartisan Women’s Caucus and co-authored AB 32 with GOP support. It’s that kind of big-picture thinking we need in DC.

Lastly, I’ll comment on this idea of “moderate” and thinking that is a good thing. I would beg to differ. Republicans have moved further and further to the right while Democrats have been too scared to move away from the center. That has been our biggest problem and why even when we had a Democratic-controlled House before 2010 we did not get enough done for middle class Americans.

Andy Cohen May 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Is that really what we want? More polarization? The Republicans have moved further and further to the right, and are looking more ridiculous, ignorant, and intolerant by the day. They are marginalizing themselves and becoming more unappealing to all but the most fringe elements of their party. Is that really the example we want Democrats to follow?

I think I’d rather see the Dems continue to be the big tent party that has room for a whole host of ideas and a wide appeal. I wouldn’t mind seeing them show a little more backbone (okay, a lot more), but moving the party out toward the extreme left would be a mistake.

No left wing ideological purity tests.

Laurie May 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm

No left wing ideology purity tests. How about left at all??? What is so “left” about Peters anyways? His vote for the Boy Scouts, his vote against the Living Wage, his ridiculously low Sierra Club ratings, his GOP dogwhistle “protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare”…? The only left-of-center cred he has is coming from the political cover he gets because he’s a calm, pleasant guy.

But the biggest piece missing from all of these local pundits lavishing praise on his supposed prowess at “getting things done” is the elephant in the room. AS PRESIDENT OF CITY COUNCIL, HE WAS IN CHARGE OF THE WORST RUN CITY IN THE NATION. $1.4 billion in pension debt, $600,000 in legal fees, investigated and found negligent by the SEC, and the whole while our roads and critical services were underfunded and in disrepair. And he continues to fudge the budget numbers on the Port Commission.

Do you honestly think that Bilbray wouldn’t nail him to the wall on his record?? Do you honestly think that any center, or right of center person is going to find that acceptable? And why do YOU think that is acceptable?? A vote for Peters means you’re saying “eh, that’s okay. You seem like a nice, reasonable guy, so I don’t care that you ran our city into a ditch.”

Really guys, I am appalled. I’m not surprised at the U-T (BTW – since their favorite is surely Bilbray, they simply endorsed the opponent most likely to lose to him). But you and City Beat have left the progressive building for smiles, handshakes and backroom deals – joining the San Diego inner circle. I also agree with Mildred – Lori is an honest, straightforward person who has a record of fighting for all of us. A good record. And she HAS gotten “things” done. A lot of things – read her long list of legislation.

Lori Saldana is a fighter – looks like our local progressive pundits, not so much. I am sad and disappointed.

Andy Cohen May 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

So sick of that living wage vote. Already addressed it. But if you want to keep bringing that up, then let’s talk about Saldana’s decision not to vote in favor of Chelsea’s Law.

Both had their reasons for voting the way they did in those particular instances. Both clearly articulated them at the time while also stating their support for what the law/ordinance hoped to accomplish. I’ve defended both decisions in previous stories. But if you’re going to keep dragging up the living wage vote, then the Chelsea’s Law vote is fair game too. You can’t have it both ways.

Laurie May 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Please Andy. So what are you saying? That Saldana is pro-rapist or something? She didn’t vote for that legislation because the prevention portion of the bill was faulty, as we see today. It’s still not working – she was right.

Peters didn’t feel that raising stagnating wages was important enough for him to vote against his big business buds.

And I find it interesting that you once again failed to address the elephant in the room. After everything I wrote, you focus on the Living Wage thing? Man, your argument for this guy is really weak.

Don May 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Glad you raised the UT double endorsement Laurie. It is actually very consistent with Andy’s first article on Scott (apparently before he was wowed that Scott would sit down with him for an hour), in which Andy suggested that there would be little or no difference between electing Bilbray or Peters.

Martha May 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

And of course, Peters refused to endorse the lone Democrat in the race for Mayor of San Diego, not wanting to slight his Republican friends also running. Scott’s been following the GOP playbook right along, he plays nice, unlike that meanie Lori Saldana.

mEden May 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm

When the Peters campaign trooped out the victimized parents to badmouth Lori, that was it for me. They don’t have a word for that low.

Don May 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

A great writer once wrote “Democrats must stand for their principles and fight back for a change. We’ve tried it Scott Peters’ way since 2006. It hasn’t worked. And it won’t work. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same behavior over and over again and expecting different results. What Scott Peters is proposing is for insanity to continue to reign. And if that’s the case, we might as well just re-elect Brian Bilbray.”

Of course that great writer is you Andy. As you acknowledge and Governor Howard Dean emphasized, Lori is the candidate willing to stand for her principles and fight back, traits you have written are vital.

And what is this left wing purity test? The candidates are very similar on the issues. I certainly am not by any stretch of the imagination a left wing ideologue. Lori is a very common sense Democrat and the daughter of a Marine who will work for the Middle Class, veterans, students, the elderly, etc. She has proven that she can work with others to get things done.

I appreciate that Scott may have charmed you in a one-on-one session, but he failed to charm people at my club or any other club in the District. He has also done very poorly in the debates as evidenced by the fact that Lori proudly has links to the debates on her website.

And why is it that he has been unable to inspire volunteers to work on his behalf? There are important reasons why some candidates have to pay for people to go door-to-door on their behalf and others have a parade of volunteers ready to help. In this case, Lori has the charisma and leadership abilities to inspire volunteers and Scott unfortunately does not have these same traits.

And yes, in your words, it may be insane to think that you can inspire Congressional Republicans to vote for your bills if you cannot inspire local supporters to walk door-to-door for you.

Laurie May 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Well said, Don. Looks like our local pundits are falling prey to the same starbursts that their DC cohorts do.

mEden May 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I like choice of “mettle” in the headline, because everyone thinks of Peters’ “metal” as in coinage. No one thinks of Peter’s being associated with strength in any other category. A lot of these fake Democrats are connected to wealthy interests. With about half of the Congress are already millionaires. Another multi-hundred millionaire is hardly going to make a positive difference. If he ever though thought of you, Peters has already forgotten you. Don’t be another chump – vote for Lori and here’s the bonus, you can sleep at night!

judi Curry May 23, 2012 at 4:59 pm

WTF is a “fake democrat?”

mEden May 23, 2012 at 10:30 pm gives a pretty good profile. They mouth the script and vote against us and call it “getting things done” or ” a balanced approach.” You can always catch them though because they think they are very clever – far more clever than you. It’s the arrogance and entitlement – take Peters, please! So, you know a fraud when he won’t take a real position on Social Security or Medicare – to them these vital programs are merely empty political concepts. When you ask them “People are dying, so which side are you on?” They will say something like Peters did, “I’m 51% Republican and 49% Democrat.”

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman May 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

What really counts is not this lacerating “debate,” but the information that today the U-T of San Diego has endorsed Scott Peters AND Brian Bilbray as preferred victors in the Primary contest. Then the U-T says it is willing to see which of the two men more closely matches the registration of the newly-configured district (a tiny 3% GOP edge.) If this doesn’t galvanize any “undecided” person to vote for Lori Saldana, I don’t know what will.

And while I’m at it, Lori’s “no” vote on “Chelsea’s Law” ought to be a badge of honor. It was opportunist Nathan Fletcher’s substanceless dream bill, and few legislators had the courage to join Lori Saldana in recognizing it for what it was: a paper ticket to ride.

Debbie May 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Thank you Ms. Zimmerman and other commenters on “chelsea’s law”. Saldana’s got my vote. Seems Saldana “difficult to work with” is actually a GOOD thing.

Tito Z May 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

When you write: “Peters is a much more moderate candidate who adheres to core Democratic principles and is without a doubt a solid Democrat…” I couldn’t agree more. I see that as a problem because I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Progressive.

I’m going with Lori. Please allow me to remind who Peters is proposing to build “consensus” with. Tell me one good thing that ever came out of “consensus”. I can give you plenty of examples of really bad things that happened because of “consensus”: NAFTA, the Patriot Acts I, II and all future reincarnations, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, now totally defunct after our “consensus” Supremes killed it good with their perverse Citizens United ruling, etc.

I had enough “consensus” the last 30 years to last me for a lifetime.

I’m supporting the Progressive candidate with the stones to fight for a true Progressive agenda without watering it down for “moderates”. That would be Lori Saldaña. I’d rather support an honest candidate who’s likely to lose than a shape-shifting loser who’s likely to win.

Nicole Sours Larson May 23, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I’m a proud liberal Democrat and am appalled at the way that Lori’s acolytes are pounding on you, Andy, for your honest assessment.

Since everyone here is piling on Andy and Scott and praising Lori, I’ll add my two cents, based on my experience of Lori. I also expect her attack-dogs will retaliate, as demonstrated above.

Andy, I agree totally with your analysis of the two candidates because I reached the same conclusions initially, but now have far stronger reasons to back Scott over Lori. I too am gladly backing Scott because I think he’s a much better fit for this moderate district and has the temperament, competence and consensus-building skills we so desperately need in Washington right now. (And I speak as someone who grew up around politics in the DC area; I worked there in politics and campaigns and understand the dynamics.)

You see, I’ve known Lori for over 10 years, having met her shortly after I moved here. Now, however, since I’ve come out as one of her strongest critics and have clearly made it onto her well-populated enemies list, I understand that she denies that she knows me at all or has ever known me. Recently I’ve also discovered Lori has a problem telling the truth.

My crime? Attempting to discourage her from running for this congressional seat, since I felt she couldn’t raise the money, based on her past performance in her aborted run for supervisor, and wasn’t up to the job, based on my experience of her as my Assemblywoman. And how did she respond initially after a long phone conversation when I didn’t agree with her analysis and didn’t tell her she was a shoe-in for the seat? She “unfriended” me on Facebook! Talk about immaturity! Don’t tell Lori anything she doesn’t want to hear because she won’t listen and will dismiss any comments as coming from someone hostile to strong women running for office.

These are a few of the reasons I feel Lori has shown herself to be one nasty piece of work: petty, mean and vindictive, not merely volatile as David Rolland described her temperament, although that, too is true. My sense of her is that she’s in this race only to advance her personal ambition and not out of any sense of devotion to the public good. It’s all about Lori.

Having met her through the PB Democratic Club, I was an early supporter of hers in her first race, when, much to my later regret and current embarrassment, I gave generously to her campaign. But as soon as she “won” the primary — when in fact her two opponents really destroyed each other, giving her the race –, she quickly forgot where she came from. Rather sick of receiving invitations to $2500 a head fundraisers, I suggested to her that she hold a few events at a lower level so that her loyal supporters could afford to attend. “Oh, it’s too hard to raise money in such small increments!” she responded. I never gave her another penny.

She and her staff were dreadful about returning phone calls or even emails, when I contacted her office about local issues I cared about. (Toni Atkins, in contrast, is always willing to listen and is direct and honest about whether she thinks she might be able to have an impact.) Lori would occasionally deign to speak with me for a moment at a public event, but was dismissive of any issues I wanted to talk about as a constituent. She also made it clear on numerous occasions that I wasn’t important enough to talk with and wasn’t worthy of her time — except when she decided she wanted me and my husband to help her by introducing her to people in our business areas that she felt could advance her career. In addition, her staff’s constituent service was the worst I’ve encountered.

And yes, I’ve said that when I think of Lori, Duke Cunningham’s name often pops into mind, because they share that same love of lobbyists’ gifts and travel and the same level of entitlement, as well as a questionable level of competence.

A vote for Lori is a vote for Bilbray.

Laurie May 24, 2012 at 8:15 am

Sounds like you are the one holding a grudge here. Yeah, I would have been ticked off too if you tell me to get out of a race because I can’t raise enough money, before it even begins? And you’re mad at her for being angry?

Anyone who votes for Peters has no right to call themselves a liberal anything. There is NOTHING about this guy that is left of center. NOTHING. Even his “progressive” endorsers admit as much. These pundits are advocating that progressives sell out, and you have obviously agreed to do so.

Once again, the elephant in the room is being ignored. If you honestly think that Bilbray and his DC millions won’t nail Peters to the wall on his record, then you are totally and completely delusional. He can’t even defend himself against Lori’s attacks without whining about her being mean. Against Bilbray, he’d be curled up on the floor in the fetal position.

The guy has money, some of you find him charming, wow. Let’s forget the negligence, the SEC investigation, the $1.4 billion pension deficit, and on and on and on… Ridiculously naive. This isn’t high school – we’re not voting for the most popular guy in class. Check this out – might refresh your memory:

A Close Observer May 23, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I think you should be intellectually honest, Andy. You should tell your readers that:

a> You twice offered the press operation in the Saldana campaign your freelance services.

b> You NEVER sat down with Lori for the kind of in depth interview that you afforded Scott. You NEVER asked her what happened with City Beat. You NEVER asked her campaign abou their polling and/or how she could beat Bilbray (since the candidate who can beat Bilbray is a key test for you).

c> You NEVER grilled Peters about his pledge to the pro-business Lincoln Club that he would oppose Project Labor Agreements and that he would work with hotel owners to keep low income maids and janitors from unionizing.

d> In short, you NEVER did your job.

Andy Cohen May 23, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Yes Larry, I did explore working with Lori’s campaign. As I clearly stated, I initially very much supported her candidacy. But nothing ever came of it, as I discovered that I much preferred working on this side of things (admittedly I am rather new at this stuff). I found it much more interesting exploring the candidates objectively.

It wasn’t until AFTER I spoke to both candidates that I changed my mind (which I reserve the right to do). And yes, I did offer Joe Kocurek a one on one sit down, and was perfectly willing to do it. But I was also candid with him that I didn’t feel that I would learn much more from it, having spoken with Lori at length one on one at the OB Street Fair last summer, having heard her speak to the OB Planning Board, and speaking with her in private (with an OB Rag colleague standing beside me) immediately following her presentation. It was that interaction at the street fair that prompted my initial support.

If Joe and Lori thought that it was important for them that I sit down and talk to them, the offer was on the table. They needed only take me up on it and I would gladly have done it. If they felt that they would get something valuable out of it, all they had to do was ask. Joe has my phone number, and I’ve spoken to him a number of times. But, since they obviously felt that I was no longer a reliable “earned media” shill, they apparently decided against it. Much like the refusal to sit down with City Beat, I suppose there was no use taking the risk if it’s not someone that’s guaranteed to be in the bag for her. Ultimately it’s her loss. I would have treated her just as fairly as I did Scott Peters.

Contrast that with Scott Peters’ campaign: As I noted in the above piece, MaryAnne Pintar and I exchanged several emails the day I was scheduled to talk to Scott. She emailed me several hours prior and said–and this is a direct quote (sorry MaryAnne, it has to be done)–“Just read through your comments posted after your April 6 column. I’m no longer convinced this is going to be a good use of Scott’s time. But we will be there.” (For the record, I just copied and pasted that directly from the email she sent me, and that was the message in its entirety.)

Clearly they had concerns about my ability to treat Scott fairly, but they were willing to take that risk and pitch their case anyway. And believe me, I did not go easy on him. After listening to the recording of our conversation, I was almost embarrassed at how many times I harped on one topic in particular. It’s that willingness and ability to talk to people who may disagree with him or challenge him in a civil and respectful manner that makes the difference. And it was his ability to answer my questions honestly and in a straightforward manner, and his conviction in his policy positions that impressed me.

To Lori’s supporters: I’m sorry you’re disappointed with my conclusions. But it’s exchanges like the one here that have turned many off to Lori Saldana. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. My conclusions were very carefully thought out over the last two months. It was not in any way a snap decision.

Let me also say for the record, since my interaction with the Saldana campaign has apparently become an issue: Scott Peters’ communications director MaryAnne Pintar and I have exchanged emails on occasion since my meeting with them on matters directly related to the campaign, much like I have exchanged emails and phone calls with Joe Kocurek. But I have asked for nothing, they have offered nothing, and I have received nothing from them. The conclusions in the above post are mine and mine alone.

But thanks, Larry, for making my point about ideological purity. At this rate it won’t be long before we have an official Democratic version–the polar opposite–of the Tea Party.

Laurie May 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

You are no progressive, Andy. The polar opposite of the tea party?? Really? ACA was basically the republican proposal 20 years ago. Reagan now looks like Che Guevera compared to today’s right wing.

It is obvious that you are “new” to this; the false equivalency argument is a lazy, simplistic way to excuse yourself from taking a position on anything. Peters is the face of the new Republican party 5 years from now. Progressives aren’t radical – they are the left.

And you know what – I am really sick and tired of being called “mean” and unreasonable, simply because we bring up points that you can’t defend. The Peters campaign whines about some “pact” early on. Ridiculous. Of COURSE, the guy with the horrible record doesn’t want to talk about the past. No mystery there.

These aren’t personal attacks – we are bringing up valid points and real facts about his record. You can’t defend them, so you cry that we are being mean. Actually, it is the supposed progressives that have turned their backs on Lori in favor of Republican-lite because they feel like she was “mean” to them who are the ones being petty and intellectually dishonest.

Thank you for selling out and turning this into a petty popularity contest.

mEden May 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Lori has about $3 million dollars of dirty politics aimed at her from Peters’ hired mouths. Peter’s will spend 10x what Lori’s tiny grassroots contributors can muster. A few corrections here is hardly worth whining about. Do people really think you can just buy a congressional seat for an unqualified candidate? People who are paid to seem to think so. Sold-out representatives are killing this country. One more of the same probably won’t hurt that much, but 2 less will make a difference.

John J. Flynn May 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Folks, the problem is Lori has lost her way. Literally. Maybe its bad advisors and role models.

Upon leaving office, Lori had four separate campaign campaigns running: (1) Board of Supervisors–she didnt (2) State Senate –she didnt (3) Board of Equalization–she knew better and finally (4) Congress. What kind of clear logic and mission is that tangled web? Check out the disclosure statements. She can;t deny this.

I suspect the real problem is her role model /advisor and “long time supporter”, Juan Vargas and his shady/creepy crowd. With that string pulling underway, no wonder she is confused.

doug porter May 24, 2012 at 8:23 am

John– the subject of Lori’s relationship with Juan Vargas has been pretty well covered in these comments over a couple of stories. Unless you have something new and truthful to offer regarding her relationship with Juan Vargas, I’d like to suggest that it is you that are confused. Or maybe truth just no chance in this campaign.

John J. Flynn May 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

Doug: I noticed you didn’t address the point about Lori’s confusion as seen by her working campaign committees for four different offices–some office, any elected office…did she return the campaign funds to the original contributors?

Martha May 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

Also, viz John’s claims about Lori launching a series of campaigns before her current one for Congress. 1) Lori’s mother passed away soon after she launched her run to unseat Ron Roberts on the Board of Supervisors. She made the decision to withdraw from that race early on to deal with this personal loss. 2) Similarly, early on in 2012 cycle (mid-2011), Lori decided to enter the race for Bilbray’s newly-redrawn Congressional District which afforded a real opportunity to unseat him — and she cleared the way for Assy. Marty Block in the 39th State Senate race — which his supporters had been urging her to do, by the way. It’s only a “tangled web” if you haven’t paid attention.

JMW May 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

What I find mystifying, Andy, is your repeated expressions of the need for someone who can work with Republicans. Why is that important? Do you believe Republicans will magically, suddenly, utterly unexpectedly become open to compromise when it means they must give up something they want. Of course, they will always accept compromise when it actually means capitulation.

Laurie May 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

Well said. Promises are broken in back room deals; that’s why they’re held there, behind closed doors hidden from the public eye. It shocks me that people see the ability to broker back room deals as some kind of badge of honor; wrong – these are the antithesis of democratic debate and a big reason why we have the problems we do.

Someone who is proud of his ability to wheel and deal outside of public scrutiny is definitely not someone who belongs in public office – not in America, at least. This is exactly how he drove the city into the ditch. Backroom deals that blew up.

Martha May 24, 2012 at 8:23 am

Sounds like Andy Cohen fell for the Spinmeister Scott schtick, well-known among San Diego community activists for over a decade. It’s what lawyers are trained to do, and while Scott couldn’t try a case if he wanted to, due to the absence of any charisma whatsoever — he has proven himself very adept at negotiating deals behind the scenes and selling them. One of which earned the City of San Diego the nickname “Enron by the Sea” and he had the further temerity, with his quarter-billion $ personal fortune, to stick San Diego taxpayers with his $630,000 legal defense bill for that maneuver and subsequent attempt to cover it up. You can’t trust Scott Peters with your money, THAT is for sure.

Martha May 24, 2012 at 8:48 am

So, let’s see now, Andy Cohen describes himself in his Wordpress blog as “a former NFL scout who has taken an interest in changing the American political landscape.  This blog will primarily be devoted to American political issues of the day (or week, as the case may be), however from time to time he will dip into his expertise in the field and comment sports related topics, in particular college and NFL football.”. Compare this to Andy’s fellow OB Rag writer, Jim Miller, who recently pegged Scott Peters precisely in his piece about the New Democrats Coalition: Jim Miller is a native San Diegan and a graduate of the MFA program at San Diego State University. In addition to his MFA in Fiction, Miller has a Ph.D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. He is a founding member of the San Diego Writers Collective and a co-founder of San Diego City Works Press. Miller teaches English and Labor Studies at San Diego City College where he was the founding director of the San Diego City College Literary Center and the San Diego City College International Book Fair from 2006-2008.

Miller is the author of Flash and Drift, both novels. He is also co-author of the radical history of San Diego Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See (with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew) and a cultural studies book on working class sports fandom, Better to Reign in Hell: Inside the Raiders Fan Empire (with Kelly Mayhew). Miller is also the editor of Sunshine/?Noir: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana and Democracy in Education; Education for Democracy: An Oral History of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1931. He has published poetry, fiction, and non-fiction in a wide range of journals and other publications.

“As a young man, Miller was a bouncer, a factory worker, a warehouseman, and a laborer in his late father’s home repair business. A proud union member, Jim serves on the executive board of AFT Local 1931 and does political action work.”.

Laurie May 24, 2012 at 8:57 am

That explains a lot. Thanks Martha.

Martha May 24, 2012 at 8:34 am

Really great coverage by KUSI Tuesday night of why a Presidential candidate and former DNC Chair so strongly supports Lori Saldana for Congress:

MaryAnne Pintar May 24, 2012 at 9:49 am

No need to apologize to me, Andy. You just reported our interactions truthfully. I’m sorry for the pile on you’ve had to endure here simply for stating an independent opinion. And the attacks are incredibly personal. Sad, but typical of what we’ve witnessed in this campaign. Take care and hang in there.

Don May 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Too funny!!! This from the campaign that has filled my mailbox with hit pieces.

It is interesting that you characterize using Andy’s words as a personal attack. Maybe I was not clear. I think he was was very perceptive when he wrote the following:

“Democrats must stand for their principles and fight back for a change. We’ve tried it Scott Peters’ way since 2006. It hasn’t worked. And it won’t work. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same behavior over and over again and expecting different results. What Scott Peters is proposing is for insanity to continue to reign. And if that’s the case, we might as well just re-elect Brian Bilbray .”

Let’s hope the voters in the 52nd are not insane under Andy’s definition.

MaryAnne Pintar May 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Right, Don. And the stuff from Lori is hearts and flowers. Unbelievable.

Rick May 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm

My mailcarrier recently delivered the daily Peters piece. Thankfully, Scott’s writers employ humor in their myriad missives. To wit: “The only candidate who can be trusted to protect Social Security and Medicare”

Tito Z May 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Hey everybody, let’s play FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Tito Z May 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm

So let’s see, the three big spenders who are bothering to report are Bilbray, Peters and Saldaña in order of spending. Bilbray has spent almost twice as much as Peters who has spent almost twice as much as Saldaña. Bilbray has spent almost 3.5 times as much as Saldaña to fend off primary challengers. Hardly a level field, and that’s only looking at spending, not fundraising.

However, let’s compare the spending to some poll results from April 18:

Brian Bilbray (R)……….Minus 1….22% neutral….14% no opinion.
Lori Saldana (D)………..Plus 3…..20% neutral….24% no opinion.
Scott Peters (D)………..Plus 1…..28% neutral….30% no opinion.
John Stahl (R)………….Minus 5….32% neutral….52% no opinion.
Jack Doyle (NPP)………..Minus 6….30% neutral….54% no opinion.
Gene Carswell (R)……….Minus 8….31% neutral….57% no opinion.
Shirley DeCourt Park (D)…Minus 7….29% neutral….57% no opinion.
Ehab Shehata (NPP)………Minus 13…27% neutral….58% no opinion.
Wayne Iverson (R)……….Minus 7….27% neutral….59% no opinion.
John Subka (R)………….Minus 6….29% neutral….61% no opinion.


Lori is in second place, very close to Bilbray and the ONLY candidate with a positive Net Favorability number of Plus 3. This is calculated by subtracting the percentage of negative opinions from the percentage of positive opinions.

What this clearly shows is that Lori Saldaña is accomplishing phenomenal support in spite of the grossly lopsided campaign finance disadvantage.

A corollary of this is that Peters is blowing his wad on ineffective and perhaps even counterproductive strategies. If I were his campaign people, I’d start looking at those mailer hit pieces more carefully. That huge 30% of people who have no opinion may be getting their first impression from those flyers.

Also notable: San Diego’s free media has been cashing a lot of checks from Peters and Bilbray, and they must be drooling over the rest of those massive campaign chests that are being saved for the October Media Smackdown Jamboree.

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