With relatively few surprises in Tuesday’s primary election, much of the talk at the Catfish Club’s monthly meeting -- with guest political commentators John Dadian and John Warren -- focused on the record-low voter turnout, and predictions for November and beyond.
“I think the low voter turnout is very significant because in what we refer to as a midterm election, we expect some low turnout, but the numbers that I’ve seen in San Diego and talking to people here suggest that we have one element of the city that is energized and interested and concerned because they can identify, perhaps from a business standpoint, what the advantages or disadvantages might be,” said Warren, a pastor and publisher of SD Voice and Viewpoint newspaper. “We have another whole element, which I would say is more like three-fourths compared to one-fourth in the other direction, which is just increasingly apathetic. They have no confidence in the political process, with no change seen from the people who go into office.”
Conversely, Dadian said he doesn’t necessarily view low turnout as an inherent problem, and said it can actually be beneficial in allowing candidates with less financial backing to get their message out.
“I have no problem with low voter turnout, as long as … it’s completely open and fair and everybody has the opportunity to vote,” said Dadian, founder of government relations firm Dadian & Associates. “To me, either not registering or not voting is a choice -- it’s a major choice, as is voting.
“If I had my magic wand I would like 100 percent voter turnout, but ... there are races where the low turnout worked — candidates didn’t have to have a lot of money and still could get their message across, so I’m still very optimistic.”
When asked who the low turnout ultimately benefits, Dadian said whichever campaigns are able to get their supporters out, “Because it’s a lot easier to get your supporters out than to try to sway that undecided or uncommitted vote.”
Warren said it really benefits the Republican Party.
Voter turnout played a role in deciding the fate of propositions B and C on Tuesday’s ballot, in which voters around the city chose to toss out the Barrio Logan community plan update. Warren and Dadian agreed this raises some serious questions and concerns.
“I think one of the backlashes you’re going to see, I know a lot of people may have supported it for the economic reasons given, but I’ve heard people in different parts of the city say ‘I don’t want the rest of the city voting on my community plan either,’ so that’s a concern,” Dadian said. “Are community plans going to be put on the ballot citywide,” and if so, do people in other parts of the city understand what the issues really are?
To Warren, the issue went even deeper.
“I think in California we have a pattern where when the local government or assembly can’t get something done, they turn to a ballot. If we’re going to have government by ballot initiative, then let’s get rid of the people that we wasted money on in office,” he said.
On the state level, both panelists agreed Jerry Brown will almost certainly maintain his seat as governor over challenger Neel Kashkari.
Looking ahead to the presidential race in 2016, the two had some interesting thoughts on what possible tickets might look like.
“Hillary [Clinton] would do an excellent job, and I think if Hillary’s health and interests are sustained, that she will run and I’m willing to predict if she runs, she’ll win,” Warren said. “The only question is who would be on the ticket as vice?”
He said to keep an eye on two promising African American “stars on the rise” to claim that spot: Cory Booker, junior senator from New Jersey, and Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts.
Dadian said Clinton could certainly run, though he’s not as confident in her ability to win as the rest of the country seems to be.
“One of my pet peeves is a lot of people on the Democratic side are saying everything from 'Hillary definitely has the nomination,' to 'she definitely has the oval office.' I would remind everybody that her popularity right now in the Democratic party is almost identical to what it was in 2007 when Barack Obama was a state senator nobody ever heard of,” Dadian cautioned. “So I do not think she has it locked like everybody else thinks.”
He and Warren agreed that Joe Biden will most likely run but isn’t a real concern, and Dadian also threw Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, into the ring of possibilities.
Warren said he doesn’t give much thought to the Republican side, and Dadian said he doesn’t think Chris Christie is damaged to the point of no return, and said he will still run.
Dadian said he’s smart enough to not make predictions, but added that there’s a strong possibility the Republican ticket might be a Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindahl double-header. That idea drew actual hisses from the audience. 2016 should be interesting.