Less than three months before the vote, the San Diego mayoral primary has come to be defined by continued sparring between the race’s young, up-and-coming Republicans.
Saturday’s vote by the Republican Party of San Diego to endorse City Councilmember Carl DeMaio followed weeks of traded barbs between DeMaio and State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher.
In the days since, not much has changed.
Though DeMaio held an event courting Democrats and Fletcher strengthened his conservative bona fides with a plan to boost pension reform, both found time to hit one another with allegations of hypocrisy.
Fletcher announced Monday his “CPR Plus” initiative, a series of reforms to the compensation and pensions of nonunion, management level city employees.
A DeMaio staffer was there distributing information on a state bill Fletcher opted not to vote on that would enroll public employees who lost their defined contribution plan into Social Security.
Later in the day, DeMaio rolled out a series of laws to increase transparency in San Diego.
Fletcher’s campaign was quick to fire off a reaction, calling out DeMaio for voting to cut the ethics commission’s budget by 30 percent.
Tony Krvaric, chairman of the local Republican Party, fresh off its endorsement of DeMaio, closed the day by citing a Competitive Edge Research and Communication poll as evidence that DeMaio was headed to a November runoff with Congressman Bob Filner, the lone Democrat in the race.
The poll, conducted for a third party but by a firm retained by the DeMaio campaign for internal polling, found DeMaio taking 24.7 percent of the primary vote, Filner getting 19.8 percent, Fletcher with 11.5 percent and Bonnie Dumanis at 10.9 percent. More than 30 percent of voters were undecided.
"We are headed toward a November runoff in the race for mayor between proven reformer Councilman Carl DeMaio and the choice of government employee labor unions Congressman Bob Filner,” Krvaric wrote in the release.
All three Republican candidates support the DeMaio-championed Comprehensive Pension Reform (CPR) initiative, which has received heavy voter support in polls. Half of respondents in the Competitive Edge poll called pensions the city’s most pressing issue. Only Filner opposes it.
Thirty-nine of the party’s 58 central committee members supported DeMaio in the first round of the Republican Party of San Diego’s voting, clearing the two-thirds majority he needed to secure the endorsement. The backing carries added significance this cycle after a federal judge in January ruled that the $1,000 cap on donations from political parties violated the First Amendment. Parties can now donate unlimited amounts.
In previous periods, DeMaio and Fletcher have set the fundraising pace. DeMaio pulled in $431,159 in the six-month fundraising period that ended at the beginning of the year, while Fletcher brought in $415,516. Dumanis raised $314,780 and Filner $111,427.
DeMaio donated $80,000 from his personal wealth during the six-month period, compared to $1,000 that Fletcher donated personally throughout his campaign. DeMaio has donated a total of more than $350,000.
Following the press conference announcing his “CPR Plus” plan, Fletcher disregarded the significance of the local GOP’s endorsement.
“Can you quote a shrug?” he said. “This election’s not going to be decided by City Hall insiders or party insiders.”
Although DeMaio won the endorsement over Fletcher and Dumanis, Fletcher received most of the DeMaio campaign’s attention approaching the vote.
DeMaio has repeatedly hit Fletcher for accepting endorsements from labor groups, calling it a conflict of interest to take political capital from a group with which the mayor will need to negotiate. Fletcher in turn called DeMaio a hypocrite for accepting endorsements from building industry representatives who likewise negotiate for city contracts.
Earlier still, DeMaio jabbed Fletcher when the state supreme court shuttered redevelopment agencies, saying the assemblyman’s deal to expand local redevelopment funding more than a year earlier had contributed to the public’s distrust of the program.
And in the week leading up to the local GOP’s vote, an anonymous DeMaio supporter sent central committee members a package of third-party legislative scorecards that indicated Fletcher had a center-right voting history during his time in Sacramento. Fletcher responded on the conservative website, sdrostra.com, calling DeMaio responsible for the mailer and attributing his legislative scorecard to a vote that closed a tax loophole on out-of-state businesses.