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Campaign notebook: DeMaio returns to vote-absenteeism attack

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In the San Diego mayoral primary, one of a handful of attacks by Councilman Carl DeMaio's campaign used against independent Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was a repeated appeal to the number of votes Fletcher had missed in Sacramento.

Now, he's targeting Democratic Rep. Bob Filner's attendance in Washington, D.C. in the same way.

DeMaio's campaign issued a press release pointing out that Filner has missed 60 percent of roll call votes this year, the worst attendance record of the year. But compared to the entire term of the current Congress, Filner's record is no longer the worst.

"Filner's last year in Congress exemplifies personal privilege over community obligation," DeMaio's press release read. It also said San Diego's taxpayers should be refunded 60 percent of his compensation.

Filner's campaign responded with a press release lauding Filner's record of roll call votes throughout his Congressional career. Before he was running for mayor, which demanded his time locally, his attendance for roll call votes wasn't an issue.

"If I had spent all my time in Washington, D.C., DeMaio would have attacked me for missing debates in San Diego," Filner said.

Political scientists largely dismiss the line of attack altogether. For one, the job of a Congressman includes more than making votes. As a single measure, the percent of roll call votes entered is a bad proxy for whether the representative is or isn't doing their job. Perhaps Filner wasn't taking care of those other responsibilities — meeting with constituents, working with policy advisers, or writing legislation — but a simple percent of roll call votes filed doesn't say one way or the other.

Another reason is that the outcomes of the overwhelming majority of votes facing Congress are predetermined, so flying to D.C. to press a button on something destined to pass by hundreds of votes isn't a good use of anyone's taxpayer money, either.

As SDSU political scientist Ron King said at the time of the attacks against Fletcher, "With this data only, it's a set-up issue for silly political embarrassment ... Fourth-rate politicians make fourth-rate scandals out of other fourth-rate politicians ... all we should actually do is giggle."

But if past is prologue, DeMaio's attacks will soon make their way to airwaves, and Filner may be forced to give a more forceful defense.


DeMaio, Dumanis announce Clean, Safe Schools task force

Throughout the mayoral campaign, local politicians have used education as a means of entering the race without levying an endorsement.

Wednesday, DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced the creation of a task force of parents, elected officials and stakeholders in education to provide city schools with a learning environment that's free of crime.

Dumanis did not, however, endorse her fellow Republican. She said she wasn't there for a political endorsement, but to applaud DeMaio's commitment to safe schools.

"I'm here to support this effort and that's what I'm here for today and we'll take each day as it comes," she said.

Filner hasn't called her since the mayoral primary, when she finished in fourth place, and she'll continue talking to DeMaio over the course of the race.

The non-endorsement press conference echoed those held by Democratic Councilman Tony Young, who in August stood with DeMaio to call for a stakeholder meeting to discuss the inequity of educational opportunities based on council district, and a few weeks later endorsed Filner's education-related platform, but not his mayoral candidacy. Young took the same approach in the spring with Fletcher's education proposal.

Dumanis successfully injected education into the mayor's race in the spring when she proposed expanding the size of the San Diego Unified School District's board in order to give the city more control of its decisions and its financial issues.

During the closing days of the mayoral primary, when polls showed her running a distant fourth, Dumanis became increasingly aggressive during debates, especially toward Fletcher, attacking him for his voting record, a legislative deal he made with Mayor Jerry Sanders to help fund a Chargers stadium, for negative campaign ads and for his attendance record in Sacramento. She also frequently attacked Filner for his plan to restructure the city's pension debt and for a lack of policy specifics. She rarely attacked DeMaio.


Filner collects endorsements

Filner added another city labor group to his endorsement roster Thursday as the city lifeguards gave him their support.

Earlier in the week, the union representing firefighters also backed his candidacy.

Altogether, he has the support of half of the city's six labor unions, including the Municipal Employees Association (MEA), which represents white collar workers and is currently engaged in a court challenge against the voter-approved pension reform measure Proposition B.

Filner's two new union endorsements bookended a public safety-focused debate Wednesday afternoon that airs on 10News Thursday, Oct. 11.

In it, Filner and DeMaio both announced their support of the police department's five-year staffing plan, which proposes returning the department to 2009 staffing levels by 2018 through $11 million in hiring during each of the next five years.

Filner said he'd pay for the proposal by using half of the $30 million in annual funds garnered through a recently extended hotel tax used to fund the Tourism and Marketing District (TMD), a proposal with questionable legal standing.

DeMaio says he's the only candidate who can pay for such a staffing plan, due to the fiscal reforms outlined in his "Roadmap to Recovery," such as a flattening of management levels in City Hall, performance-based pay and departmental budgeting, increased use of managed competition, and implementation of Prop. B.

Filner also added an endorsement from the Environmental Health & Justice campaign.

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