Selling Kevin Faulconer: The Big Bamboozle

by on December 16, 2013 · 3 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

They want you to glare at the union worker asking for a cookie while they walk away with the whole jar.

By Jim Miller

free-cheese-trapLast week over at the SD Rostra they posted an interesting commentary entitled “Electing Kevin Faulconer: Make a Clear Distinction on Fiscal Conservatism” that outlined the path to a Republican victory. While not particularly surprising, the strategy suggested there is revealing in some important ways.

What, according to our friends on the right, needs to be done?

First of all, it appears that the early polling has awakened them to the fact that the guy who the Lincoln Club yearned to face is “a serious candidate” who should “not be taken lightly” despite the fact that he is “a sycophant for the same people (labor unions and progressive activists in the Democratic party) who gave us Bob Filner.” Thus, the theory goes, a GOTV effort needs to make use of Jerry Sanders and Carl DeMaio to appeal to Democrats who voted for pension reform.

The message, according to the Faulconer folks, should be as follows:

  • Faulconer helped San Diego recover from the Murphy era–he puts pragmatism over party.
  • Faulconer was a key ally in the reform agenda which the voters approved.
  • The same people who backed Filner are trying to defeat the reform agenda with a surrogate candidate (Alvarez).
  • San Diego can’t afford to go back to the union-influenced ways of the last century.

Interestingly, you’ll note that none of this has to do with “neighborhoods” and the non- partisan potholes that Faulconer championed fixing in the primary and everything to do with the tried and true message that unions are the root of all things evil in San Diego and the world in general.

On this point, the folks at SD Rostra are careful to note that it would be a bad idea to even attack Alvarez himself because “attacking Alvarez, as a person, is a losing proposition. Attacking the people behind Alvarez is fair game, however. Alvarez is a bright young man who has a life experience which has been limited to the public sector union-controlled world, while Faulconer is a more well-rounded, experienced leader.”

What will the evil folks in the “union-controlled world” do to poor Kevin? They might, it appears to the Faulconer crowd, stoop to calling him out as a conservative: “The labor unions are going to try to paint Faulconer as a ‘tea party candidate.’” This, however, is “not necessarily a negative. Faulconer shouldn’t shy from speaking with conservative groups to explain why their support is the key to winning this election. Voters are looking for some distinction between these two candidates and, in my mind, Alvarez and Faulconer have much different world views on governance. Faulconer should make the clear distinction that his fiscally conservative record and a fiscally conservative vision is the right path to prosperity in San Diego.”

While none of this should shock anyone, what is centrally important to underline about it is that the entire strategy relies on tossing the actual history of San Diego down the memory hole and trying to sell enough gullible Democrats a version of San Diego based on doublethink and conservative mythology to win it for the Republican. Specifically, team Faulconer wants to:

  • Present Faulconer as a pragmatist who is above party ideology to the rubes while assuring the conservative base that he is a solid conservative Republican who will toe the party line in all cases.
  • Talk of caring about “all San Diegans” while aggressively union bashing and blaming all the city’s problems on workers and their unions who might stand in the way of the agenda of the downtown insiders. If only the rest of San Diego history can be transformed into one big Proposition B campaign, all our troubles are over.
  • Appropriate the “Neighborhoods First” agenda (in rhetoric only) that got Filner elected while demonizing the majority of San Diegans that supported it.
  • Convince voters that San Diego has been dominated by “union-influenced ways” for the last century rather than the moneyed interests that have served as a shadow government for most of our history.

Of course this last bit of mythology is the key to the whole bamboozle. Anyone who knows even a little about the history of San Diego understands that the suggestion that our city has been run by a union machine is a joke. Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth, but the forces behind Faulconer are counting on folks being easily misled.

In “Under the Perfect Sun”, Mike Davis, Kelly Mayhew and I observe that San Diego is a city that “many conservatives extol as a utopia of patriotism and free enterprise.” Indeed it was Nixon’s “lucky city” but, as we note, “San Diego has too frequently been a town wide open to greed but closed to social justice. Like its Sunbelt siblings—Orange County, Phoenix, and Dallas—it has a long history of weak and venal city halls dominated by powerful groups of capitalist insiders. ‘Private Government’ has long overshadowed public politics.”

More recently in “Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Failure in San Diego”, Steve Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott MacKenzie similarly illustrate how San Diego’s political and business elite have done a fantastic job of “using public resources to maximize private profit” with little to no oversight from our “shadow governments.”

And that, at base, is what this election is all about: whether we want to hand San Diego back over to the same old “shadow government” that has run things for the city’s entire history or whether we want a city where the doors to city hall are open to all. So, just as the folks at SD Rostra invite you to think about who is backing Alvarez, I suggest voters do the same for Faulconer who was literally anointed at a backroom meeting featuring Doug Manchester, the Chamber of Commerce crew, and a host of other conservative moneyed interests.

b 2Thus when Faulconer talks about neighborhoods, know he’s not thinking about yours. When he says “reform,” think about outsourcing city services to moneyed special interests. If he talks about jobs, imagine a taxpayer-subsidized Charger stadium and big giveaways to developers, hoteliers, with an accompanying race to the bottom for local workers. When Faulconer talks about “integrity” remember how he is shamelessly supporting the malicious efforts of the maritime industry to roll over a working class community of color. Think back room deals for the downtown insiders and America’s Finest Tourist Plantation for the rest of us.

That’s why the forces behind the curtain promoting Faulconer want to scare up as much anti-union hysteria as possible—it’s a bait and switch.

They want you to glare at the union worker asking for a cookie while they walk away with the whole jar. Follow the money, dear reader, and you be the judge.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

sean M December 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Jim miller’s bosses would rather ‘negotiate’ (wink) with alvarez regarding the ‘fairness’ of their paychecks and pensions.


Frank Gormlie December 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Sean M. Trying to throw us off the trail, are you? Jim Miller is employed by the Community Colleges – his union, AFT, does not negotiate with the City. Nice try


obracer December 19, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Great article, thank you.


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