Port Commissioner Scott Peters won the endorsement of independent Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher on Tuesday, boosting his campaign to unseat Rep. Brian Bilbray in the 52nd Congressional District.
Fletcher, whose assembly district overlaps much of the 52nd Congressional District, became the story of the San Diego mayor’s race this spring when he dropped his Republican Party affiliation, generating a slew of national press before losing to his more partisan competitors, Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio and Democratic Rep. Bob Filner.
At a press conference Tuesday announcing the endorsement, Fletcher said he’s confident Peters is the best candidate to represent San Diego and will provide leadership to a dysfunctional Congress, but never came close to speaking ill of Bilbray.
“I’ve represented most of this Congressional District for the last four years; I’ve lived in it even longer,” Fletcher said. “I know these constituents. They’re tired of politics as usual. They want leadership. They want someone who is going to listen, who will build coalitions, and who is focused on moving our city forward. And that person is Scott Peters.”
Fletcher’s remarks echoed those from his mayoral campaign, when he left the Republican Party just weeks after a heartfelt request for the San Diego GOP’s official endorsement was turned down and spent the rest of the campaign asking voters to join him in a brand of governance not defined by party labels.
“He sparked a movement to the middle here in San Diego that, I predict, will have a huge influence on politics in our region,” Peters said. “The same is true of Nathan. His term of office in the assembly ends this year, but I hardly think we’ve seen the last of him. Nathan Fletcher represents a new generation of leadership in San Diego.”
After the end of his mayoral campaign, Fletcher returned to Sacramento and crossed his former Republican allies on two high-profile bills, one promoting a ban of retail plastic bags and another to change tax law on out-of-state corporations in order to pay for middle-class scholarships.
Despite showing a willingness to work with Democrats or Republicans on legislation, Fletcher hasn’t attacked members of the Republican Party, specifically. He has said he doesn’t think he left the party as much as the party left him.
On Tuesday, Fletcher kept his comments focused on the virtues of Peters, a friend with whom he first formed a relationship when Peters was San Diego City Council president and he was just a constituent.
The following exchange took place after the endorsement announcement:
The Daily Transcript: As a constituent of Rep. Bilbray, is there anything in particular you were frustrated with by him or his role in Congress?
Nathan Fletcher: I think when you look at Congress today you see an environment that’s completely polarized. They have an inability to solve problems. We need a change. I think we need a new approach. I think Scott Peters will bring that approach
DT: Do you think Rep. Bilbray has contributed to that combative, divisive, intransigent climate in Congress?
NF: What I would say is Scott Peters will be a leader who will look for solutions, who will be willing to step out of his comfort zone, and who I believe will put the interest of San Diego ahead of the interest of either political party.
DT: Do you think Rep. Bilbray has put the good of his political party over the people of San Diego?
NF: I think Scott Peters is who we need in Washington D.C., and he’s the person I want representing me and my family.
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Sept. 29, 2009 -- Reporter Elizabeth Malloy covers a health care town hall forum for seniors hosted by Congressman Brian Brilbray (R-North County).
March 13, 2009 -- Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-North County) talks about the new administration, troops on the border, the economy, and more.