In an early-morning Friday forum, San Diego’s four main mayoral candidates outlined their platforms and campaign messages for a group of downtown business people atop Symphony Towers.
Congressman Bob Filner, the race’s only Democrat, said he was also the only candidate independent of downtown interests.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she was the only candidate with executive experience cutting through the proverbial red tape of a large bureaucracy.
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said he’d work with anyone to solve the city’s problems.
Councilman Carl DeMaio said he’d complete the fiscal reform of City Hall he spearheaded when he came to City Council.
Moderator John Dadian asked whether the troubles of San Diego Unified School District were worth discussing in the race, given the lack of control City Hall holds over the district’s independent board of elected officials.
Dumanis has made the issue the central component of her candidacy, proposing to grow the school board to nine directors by adding four new mayoral appointees, and used the opportunity to outline her plan.
In addition to exerting more control as mayor, she’d also create a mayoral liaison whose job it would be to secure not only state funding, but also national grants and philanthropic support.
After unveiling it earlier in the week, Fletcher talked up his plan to spur innovation at the Port of San Diego.
Up to this point, increasing commerce at the port had been Filner’s primary economic platform, but the veteran congressman didn’t discuss his plan when asked about developing the city’s downtown area.
In her closing statements, Dumanis took the only direct shot of the forum, accusing Fletcher of falsely claiming to be above the political fray, a charge she’s levied previously.
“The very first person who went negative is the person who says he doesn’t want a campaign like that, and that’s Nathan Fletcher,” she said.
Otherwise, the candidates were friendly with one another, belying what mailers, TV ads and press conferences show to be an increasingly hostile race.
Filner brings Newsom to town
Filner’s money-starved campaign is looking for some financial stimulus, recruiting California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to San Diego for a fundraiser.
The former mayor of San Francisco will appear at a rally supported by the Democratic Party on Wednesday at Rich’s San Diego in Hillcrest.
Donna Frye, former city councilwoman and mayoral candidate, and City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirez will also attend the event.
This comes after a week that saw Filner secure the endorsement of the city’s alternative weekly publication, City Beat.
The unenthusiastic editorial explaining the endorsement expressed appreciation for Fletcher’s campaign, but said the magazine’s progressive staff was more comfortable with Filner, despite saying “the threat level for scandal of varying sorts is at least orange” in a Filner administration.
New super PAC goes to TV for Fletcher
A new independent expenditure committee, icPurple, introduced itself to the San Diego mayor’s race with a television ad in support of Fletcher this week.
The super PAC is an offshoot of Movement to the Middle, a group of Fletcher-supporting business leaders from the city that made news last month by publicly renouncing their party affiliation and sounding Fletcher’s call for an end to partisan squabbling.
Ted Waitt, co-founder of Gateway Inc., is listed as a co-founder of icPurple, and was also one of the initial business leaders associated with Movement to the Middle.
Both groups cite the same “Declaration of Independents” as the outline of their values.
The 30-second TV spot features two groups of children arguing over whether they should paint their tree house blue or red.
A child between the two groups then mixes the paint together.
“Sometimes, it takes an independent leader to get us back on track,” a voiceover says. “If you’re tired of partisan politics, vote Nathan Fletcher for mayor. He’s not a Democrat, he’s not a Republican, he’s an American,” a call to the final line of the group’s “Declaration of Independents.”
Along with Fletcher, icPurple also supports for the Assembly Chad Walsh (AD-28), for the House of Representatives Chad Condit (CA-10) and Linda Parks (CA-26), and in the U.S. Senate Angus King in Maine.
DeMaio stays on Fletcher’s voting record
Along with a group of his high-profile backers, including former mayoral candidate Steve Francis, DeMaio demanded Thursday that Fletcher return his salary for the days he was campaigning in San Diego, rather than voting in Sacramento.
Fletcher has missed more than 70 percent of legislative sessions this year while running his mayoral campaign.
Though he hasn’t received a per diem for those missed days, per Assembly rule, he has kept his $95,000 annual salary.
While DeMaio, Francis and others said it was reasonable to request he reimburse taxpayers for days he didn’t fulfill his job, political scientists reached for comment disagreed with the notion that a legislator’s job description could be so easily quantified.
Steve Erie, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, laughed off the significance of DeMaio’s criticism, and said such lines of attack don’t usually resonate with voters.
“This happens all the time,” he said. “You can’t be in two places at once. It’s part of the arsenal of attacks. If DeMaio had been the one in Sacramento and Fletcher in the City Council, Fletcher would probably be saying the same thing. DeMaio is throwing as much mud as he can at the wall."
Ronald King, professor of political science at San Diego State University, said making the case that Fletcher wasn’t doing his job would require far more detailed data.
Attendance alone doesn’t tell the story, he said, because legislators also need to meet with constituents, write legislation and hold policy meetings, among other responsibilities.