Assorted representatives from the region’s defense industry, including the Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association, endorsed Republican Councilman Carl DeMaio’s mayoral campaign Friday, pointing to his experience in small business and commitment to reducing regulatory burdens as their reasoning.
The endorsements came a day after DeMaio’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Bob Filner, outlined his jobs plan, which emphasized strengthening the city’s role as a strategic port, expanding the Navy’s footprint, attracting investment for shipbuilding services and installing a veteran hiring office in City Hall.
DeMaio’s long-held jobs plan includes many of those same elements, but one member of the group endorsing the Republican candidate said he worked with Filner in Washington, D.C. and doesn’t trust his promises.
“We received zero assistance from him when he was on the Hill,” said Dave Carver, of General Dynamics NASSCO, the region’s largest shipbuilder.
Another member of the group cited Filner’s support for an update of the Barrio Logan Community Plan, which would address mixed-use zoning that currently places businesses in the area, including shipbuilders, in the vicinity of homes and schools.
“It’s clearly the way to go, and that’s why every environmental organization in the city endorses my candidacy,” Filner said at a recent KPBS-hosted debate.
DeMaio has also said he supports updating the Barrio Logan Community Plan, but hedges his response by qualifying that the change can’t come at the expense of local businesses. He’s also said Filner’s embrace of separating residential and industrial zoning in the area is at odds with his goal of expanding the Port.
“You have no record creating jobs,” DeMaio said at the same debate.
Asked where his and Filner’s defense-related jobs platforms differed, DeMaio returned to the theme.
“It’s a matter of rhetoric versus reality,” he said. “I’m a businessman.”
During his 20-year career in Congress, Filner served as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 2007 through 2011. During his campaign, he has touted his commitment to San Diego’s military presence by advertising his role in expanding the Veterans Affairs health care budget, provided increased funding for the GI bill and extended it to spouses and children, provided increased foreclosure protection for veterans and a VA plan to end homelessness among its members in five years.
DeMaio campaign focuses on Filner flare-ups, attendance
Increasingly, the DeMaio campaign is looking to distinguish its candidate by portraying its opponent as an erratic and unreliable figure unfit for the mayor's office.
The characterization is by no means new. Most notably, the campaign looked to do the same after Filner inaccurately accused DeMaio’s domestic partner of being responsible for damage caused in Balboa Park by a raucous watergun fight.
But DeMaio's campaign specifically focused its attention on that line of attack this week after Filner delayed his entrance to a University of California, San Diego-hosted debate last weekend because of a disagreement over the coin toss to decide who would speak first.
DeMaio’s communications director, K.B. Forbes, immediately began pushing the coin-toss dust-up, and surrogates on Twitter began pushing the story as well. It was eventually picked up by TV stations, and the U-T San Diego ran its own story on the event.
“Maybe the campaign is wearing on Bob Filner, but no matter what his excuse, this pattern of behavior shows Bob Filner is unfit to be mayor,” campaign manager Ryan Clumpner wrote in a statement.
The next day, when San Diego Council President Tony Young endorsed Filner, DeMaio held a press conference highlighting his opponent’s poor attendance on the City Council in the early 1990s.
DeMaio has previously criticized Filner for his poor attendance in Congress this year while he’s been running for mayor. Voice of San Diego pointed out that DeMaio recycled campaign flyers from the spring, when he hit Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher with the same charge in the mayoral primary.
Filner releases jobs plan, announces Young endorsement
Expanding the Port. Mandating that city buildings rely on solar power in five years. Merging the region’s green sector with a nascent “blue,” water-based industry, to create an “aqua” economy. Filner has repeated these promises throughout the campaign when debates have veered to job creation.
This week, he put those ideas in writing in his jobs plan, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.”
The plan included few surprises, focusing on the aforementioned programs, but it did pin the long-time congressman to a specific promise over a two-term mayoral stint: the creation of 50,000 jobs with average annual compensation over $50,000.
Alongside Filner while he described his jobs proposal was newfound public supporter Council President Young, who later said Filner had demonstrated through his career an ability to work with others to get things done.
Young is a popular politician in town, regarded as a pragmatic, pro-business Democrat who regularly stands with Mayor Jerry Sanders when there’s good news to announce. DeMaio also sought his endorsement, and the two appeared together in August to discuss inequitable educational outcomes based on city districts.
After the press conference announcing Young’s endorsement, Filner’s campaign sent out another notice saying the two politicians were available for on-air or on-camera interviews. Two days later, Young came out for the release of Filner’s jobs plan.
Young said at the press conference that he’d aggressively campaign for Filner in the closing weeks of the race. That hasn’t been the case for many high-profile endorsers in the race, whether for DeMaio or Filner.