MAGA Politics Have Arrived at a San Diego School District

by on March 16, 2021 · 23 comments

in Education, San Diego

Election of Mike Allman to San Dieguito Union High School Board Achieves MAGA Majority

By Thomas Ultican / Tultican / March 15, 2021

One of America’s wealthiest public school districts typifies the damage MAGA Republicans are doing to public schools.

San Diego County’s San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) serves just over 13,000 students in five middle schools and five high schools. With former Republican congressional candidate Mike Allman’s narrow school board victory, a MAGA coalition has achieved a 3 to 2 majority.

This election result advances using school reopening as a political wedge issue. Normally nonpartisan school board elections have been turned into partisan political battle grounds.

May 25, 2020, the former President Tweeted,

“Schools in our country should be opened ASAP. Much very good information now available. @SteveHiltonx @FoxNews

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2020”

In July, the former Secretary of Education declared,

“School leaders across the country need to be making plans’ to have students in the classroom. There will be exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be kids go back to school this fall. And where there are little flare-ups or hot spots, that can be dealt with school by school or a case-by-case basis. There’s ample opportunity to have kids in school.”

Carl Hulse’s Feb. 12, 2021 New York Times article ran under the banner, “Republicans Seize on Shuttered Schools as a Political Rallying Cry” with a subtitle stating, “As President Biden struggles to keep his pledge to reopen schools in 100 days, Republicans in Congress are hammering at the issue as a way to win back alienated women and suburban voters.”

The SDUHSD school board election is a case study in using school reopening and hard ball politics in search of political gain.

Mike Allman’s Election Signaled MAGA Politics have Arrived

Michael Allman is a self-described “libertarian-leaning Republican.” He came to San Diego to work for Sempra Energy; is a former executive of Southern California Gas Co. and until 2016 was an executive at a software company called Bit Stew Systems. He received a BS in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State and an MBA at the libertarian economist Milton Friedman’s school, the University of Chicago.

He is a wealthy investor who lived in Rancho Santa Fe for twenty years before moving to Solana Beach.

Running for school board was Allman’s second foray into electoral politics. He ran in the 2018 district 52 congressional primary; a district in which he did not live. He was matched against incumbent Democrat Scott Peters and five fellow Republican challengers. Allman reported $415,109.45 total campaign spending in that race of which $300,000 came via his personal loan.

He garnered a disappointing 3.9% of the vote.

In 2020, Allman ran against Jane Lea Smith and Ana Caterina to become the Area 4 SDUHSD board Trustee. Caterina eventually dropped out and endorsed Allman but was still on the ballot. A former special education teachers and medical device researcher, Jane Lea Smith, proved to be stout competition. Allman won the seat with 7,507 votes to Smith’s 7,181 (42.3% to 40.5%).

Like in his congressional race, Allman ran for a school board position in an area where he does not live. He personally contributed $29,000 of his total $33,333.55 in campaign contributions received and loaned his campaign $30,000. He out-spent Smith who received a total of $14,096.01 in campaign contributions five to one. If the $7,066.88 in independent expenditures by the teachers union is included, the spending advantage drops to three to one.

Allman was clear about two points in his campaign to be on the board; schools must be opened full time for face to face instruction and the teachers union is the problem. Four days before the election he posted,

“Teachers unions’ goals are in direct conflict with those of school boards.

“I will be your independent voice on the board and will work for students, parents and taxpayers. I am not beholden or supported by the teachers union.”

A post by Allman at the end of August called for opening schools and joining his political movement. He wrote,

“The Teachers Union will demand that the return to in-class learning be delayed.

“If you would like to get involved to ensure that our schools open as quickly and safely as possible, please join this group. We have a SDUHSD Board Meeting in a couple of weeks, and we can make a difference!”

Allman provided a link to the private face book page “SDUHSD Families for School Reopening.”  Education activist and student mother, Robyne Ruterbusch who was kicked off of the page, says that Allman was the key voice and administrator of the group until he was elected. She claims he is still the key voice leading FB discussions in the group but is no longer an administrator.

Of the five people who are current administrator of “SDUHSD Families for School Reopening,” Ginny Merrifield and Alison Stratton seem to be the most politically involved.

For the balance of this important article, please go here.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

HAL March 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Really dumb article. Reopening schools and Trump have no correlation. Parents see private schools and schools in other states open in other states and insist on having them same for their kids. I would estimate Trump supporters in the SDUHSD are even less than the approximate 35% who voted for Trump statewide in CA.


Frank Gormlie March 16, 2021 at 1:01 pm

Sorry, “Hal” – it’s the new wedge issue of the far right. The election of Mike Allman puts a spotlight on this renewed movement to take over school boards with MAGA politics. Ya can’t ignore this. And thank you Thomas for bringing it all to light.


Chuck B. March 16, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Bad take. Essentially just saying, “Trump wants to re-open the schools?! Well looks like we gotta keep ’em closed, sorry kids.” It’s not a political act to reopen schools. If other states can do it, both blue and red, then why can’t we. Keeping them closed is unpopular, so by doing that you would be stupidly giving the GOP an edge.


Frank Gormlie March 16, 2021 at 1:53 pm

Not saying everyone, every parent who wants to get their kids back into school is of the far right. But it is an issue the far right, the MAGA, have taken up as their cause. Allen’s dissing of teacher unions is one example.


rich colwell September 9, 2021 at 1:04 pm

When you publically confuse issues, it really reduces your credability. I think you do not like the man, and are happy to use any tool to discredit him. I suggest that you research your arguments more fully. Shameful.


Geoff Page September 9, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Ask yourself, why is a 65-year-old guy so interested in the school system? His kids are clearly no longer in the system. He’s doing all of this our of his heartfelt belief everyone else’s kids need to be back in school, that’s all that motivates this guy? Hard to believe pure altruism is the motive. No it’s politics.


triggerfinger March 16, 2021 at 2:33 pm

People are leaving California in droves. Its almost as if they don’t like paying the highest taxes in the nation while schools and many businesses remain closed.

Maybe Newsom’s goal is to run all the sensible voters out of Dodge so he doesn’t have to worry about reelection.


Geoff Page March 16, 2021 at 5:29 pm
Peter from South O March 17, 2021 at 5:56 am

Population of CA: 39,510,000. We lost 70,000 between 2019-2020. That is your definition of “droves”?


triggerfinger March 17, 2021 at 8:28 pm

A decreasing population in a state with robust immigration, documented and undocumented, and birth rates… that’s significant.

Let’s see what Uhaul has to say.


micporte March 17, 2021 at 5:26 am

as a parent, and grandparent, anyone should know that schools ( discos, bars, whatever..closed environments) are Petri dishes of common shared infections… just got a big headache cold from taking care of my granddaughter, who goes to nursery school, for one weekend.. so yes, germs abound in schools, “herd immunity ” in the US? mega big, and everyone is gonna have to pass..
do we deprive our kids of social interaction , societal method, etc.. because of the germ factor?
maybe… or not? happy I’m not a school board person at this time, I thought fighting artificial turf was already hard, in the face of big Nike business…


Chris March 17, 2021 at 7:03 am



Geoff Page March 17, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Well, micporte did say he or she was a grandparent. Probably has not been out in a while, a long while.


Chris March 17, 2021 at 6:07 pm

That’s kind of what I gathered LOL. I’m glad at 59 I still go see shows @ The Casbah and other venues out and around town (or do when not in Pandemic mode).


Chris March 17, 2021 at 6:27 pm

Off topic of the OP. Disco wasn’t my thing back in the day and by the time I reached 21, disco as a genre was already passe so I never went to a “disco”. Three years ago a buddy of mine held a 70s disco themed birthday party for his 50th. There “may” be videos of me and for the sake of humanity I hope they never make it to Youtube.


Geoff Page March 17, 2021 at 8:22 pm

Chris, I’m gonna need a little more information for my Google search…


Chris March 17, 2021 at 8:45 pm

I doubt you’ll find anything but it was held @ The VFW in PB.


micporte March 17, 2021 at 5:39 am



Richard March 17, 2021 at 8:33 am

“People are leaving California in droves” Music to my ears. Goodbye and good riddance.


triggerfinger March 17, 2021 at 8:30 pm

Don’t bite the hand that feeds. Those people leaving are taxpayers.


ruth santori March 24, 2021 at 4:43 am

I’m confused about the point of the article.
Are you trying to convince us that he’s “bad” because he makes a lot of money?
Or that him, or anyone who believes kids should be back in school is “bad?”
I do not affiliate with either party.
Bc I believe doing so makes it too easy to be lazy about the issues.
Going to the poll just to fill in a bunch of Rs or Ds for a sticker you can wear as a badge of honor does more harm than good for the community.
On that note, even MORE is done to respective “sides” (usually left-leaning … there, I said it & sorry if I offend anyone but I think we can all agree that the liberals are usually, if not ALWAYS “squeaky wheels getting the grease”) when people who claim they’re “debating” just whine about whoever they don’t like that day, feel threatened by and/or who represents THEIR VERSION of “all the evils in the world.”
With no facts or anything worthy of being considered “thought provoking” by the average person.
Don’t people GET that TRUE WINNERS don’t NEED to prove their worthiness by tearing down their competitors in effect to convince they’re “better.”
They just do what they do and KEEP WINNING.
I just don’t get why liberals keep using the same, “look how BAD they are!” strategy when a PSY 101 student knows that doing so just makes you look even weaker?
I’m just giving you some advice from the perspective of someone who is politically neutral, take or leave it, I could care less and have no agenda.
But I think you would do far better in your efforts to persuade others to your point of view by articulating pros & cons, relative to how it will affect THEIR lives.
Versus your personal opinions about the “right type” YOU think is best to fill any given political seat.
What you DID make clear are your PERSONAL opinions of the following:
people who earn a lot of money are bad,
People who donate out of their own pockets to fund their own campaigns are bad,
All Republicans are MAGA-hat wearing Trump fanatics,
Quotes from ANY Republican automatically apply to ALL Republicans,
You don’t like his platform (opening schools, prioritizing needs of parents/kids before teacher union bargaining chips)
You suspect he was admin of his FB page but now think he’s not, BUT you know the names of people who you think now are (how does “calling people out” and exposing them by name, help you, help anyone?)
I’m sorry but articles like this just piss me off.
People have a hard enough time as it is to find REAL information which is objective, relevant and purposeful.
And tells them what THEY need to know in order to make best decisions to THEIR families.
We’ve had enough of the “tit-for-tat, he-said/she-said, they’re BAD we’re GOOD” crap, people who can’t say anything that doesn’t someone fit or fuel their own political agenda.
Try selling people on how it benefits/harms THEM & THEIR FAMILIES & you’ll prob have a much easier time winning their support.
YES .. that’s “WINNING” not “WHINING.”


Geoff Page March 24, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Whew, I’m just glad you aren’t a liberal. Your sheep’s clothing could use some work.


sealintheSelkirks March 25, 2021 at 10:42 am

Wow, for someone who calls herself “politically neutral,”…who claims that she “could care less and have no agenda,” this Ruth Santori person is really chewing on the Faux Infotainment propaganda talking points like a dog with a big juicy bone and a very large chip on her shoulder. I had to laugh about your sheep’s clothing comment, Geoff, because she really isn’t wearing any wool, it’s all a bitter snarling MAGA hat rant.

Obviously touched a bare nerve with this article and the comments, eh? Since she’s so “confused” with the point of the article, maybe she shouldn’t have tried to stuff so many RWNJ talking points into her diatribe?

As for HAL, Allman seems to really dislike Teacher’s Unions for some reason. Maybe it’s because they are trying to keep their members ALIVE? Most teachers are not in their 20s…

micporte: As a former Pre-K teacher (I’ve got an ECE) you did get the children are disease carriers correct but really went off the beam when you tried to compare DEAD TEACHERS with depriving our kids/grandkids of social interaction? My first year I caught every damn bug my class of 16 brought into the classroom; pink eye (conjunctivitis) twice, strep throat, and I don’t remember how many colds and flu bugs. The other class of 4 & 5 yr olds in the school (a San Diego private 3-school system pre-k through 6th) was Mrs. Kulis a woman in her 60s who had the constitution of an armored rhino. She would be a prime candidate for death now I’m afraid.

Chris: be GLAD you weren’t an adult for the 70s disco crap! It was ridiculous and as a blues & rock musician I absolutely hated it and not once did I walk into one of those places!

Italy is closed with what they are calling the ‘4th Wave’ of this disease. It ain’t over by a long shot and with the absolute stupidity of Republican governors (who of course all have degrees in infectious disease transmission) who have essentially declared this Pandemic over, I’m afraid we are about to find out exactly what Italy is talking about. For my part in all this I’m wearing a mask and staying mostly on the property. Contagious mutating strains of virus’ I doubt pay much attention to the open mouths of politicians…except as tunnels to flow into and make lots of baby virus’.



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