Endorsement of Carl DeMaio over Scott Peters washes away any pretense of the club’s non-partisanship.
By Andy Cohen
The Lincoln Club yesterday formally endorsed Carl DeMaio in his quest to unseat freshman Democratic Congressman Scott Peters in the not-yet-begun 2014 52nd Congressional District race in San Diego. Not exactly a huge surprise there. The Lincoln Club is a right wing, conservative organization that typically endorses conservative Republican candidates for office. What is surprising, however, is the claim by a Lincoln Club spokesman that it is a “non-partisan,” pro-business organization.
This came as a complete shock to me. “The Lincoln Club is populated by R’s, D’s, and DTS who all share a common thread—business interests,” wrote spokesman Tony Manolatos in response to an email expressing my faux “shock” at the club’s release announcing that they were “critical of Filner’s behavior.”
“San Diegans voted for a strong mayor form of government, not a strong arm mayor,” the release quotesdclub President and CEO T.J. Zane as saying in response to Mayor Bob Filner’s ejection of a representative of the City Attorney’s office from a closed session meeting with members of the City Council last week. “But that’s exactly what Filner is. The Mayor is abusing his authority and ruining San Diego’s reputation in the process.”
How soon they forget the “Enron by the Sea” moniker. That debacle that led up to that label was pretty damaging to San Diego’s reputation, and I’m quite positive that Mayor Bob had no role whatsoever in it; it was a series of Republican administrations that were responsible.
Also from the news release, former Superior Court judge and current Lincoln Club member Larry Stirling called for a DA and Grand Jury investigation into the “false arrest” of Andrew Jones, the number two man in the City Attorney’s office.
Again, this is not surprising since the local Republican establishment is absolutely incensed that a liberal candidate—particularly this liberal candidate—managed to win a citywide election in a town that has more or less been dominated by Republicans for the better part of three decades. Filner is the first Democrat to win the office in 20 years.
“Again,” continued Manolatos, “(The Lincoln Club is) focused on what’s best for business, taxpayers, and neighborhoods, etc.” If that were true, then logically Bob Filner would seem to be exactly the kind of mayor they would appreciate. Filner’s actions in the TMD showdown were completely focused on what was best for the taxpayers of San Diego, i.e. making sure that the taxpayers would not be left on the hook for the hotel guest surcharge levied by the city’s hotel interests that the courts very well might find illegal. Filner was not against the activities of the TMD, but he was against the taxpayers having to ultimately foot the bill, so he sought stronger indemnities for the city and got them.
Filner has also worked hard to follow through on his campaign promise to focus more on the city’s outlying neighborhoods and shift the sole emphasis from Downtown. That’s actually good for the entire city, as it promotes economic growth throughout San Diego rather than concentrating it in one place, something that hasn’t been done for decades.
It would also seem that if business and economic interests were truly their emphasis, then Scott Peters would be their candidate of choice. Republicans in Congress have become enamored with sequestration and the devastating cuts to the federal budget they entail. San Diego in particular has been gut punched by the one-time poison pill that has become championed policy by one side of the aisle. Meanwhile, Peters has fairly devoted his first term in office to railing against sequestration, highlighting at every turn the damage it’s doing to the local economy, from maritime interests to San Diego’s burgeoning innovation economy, to promoting ways to leverage the border with Mexico to goose economic growth.
Whereas Peters has stood for a pro-investment strategy, in DeMaio the Lincoln Club has sidled up to a slash and burn, kill-all-government-spending-and-regulation candidate. They’ve sided with a “pro-business” candidate who favors an anything goes mentality, so long as it’s good for the business interests involved, regardless of the overall effects on the economy.
Whereas Peters has stood for economic strategies that will bolster the middle class, recognizing it as the key to sustained and robust growth, DeMaio favors the same top down strategy that led to the Great Recession in the first place, where the rich get richer and maybe by the grace of their own goodness they’ll allow some of it to trickle down to the rest of society. ‘Cause, you know, the job creators and all.
The truth is that the real job creators are the middle class who supply the demand required for economic growth. But that’s not something that will ever be acknowledged by DeMaio. In his Koch fueled brain, if the uber wealthy are doing well, then everyone else must be too. And we’ve seen what that approach has done over the last decade.
The Lincoln Club’s endorsements should tell you all you need to know about how in tune with California voters they are: They opposed Prop 30, which passed pretty overwhelmingly by the voters last November. Prop 30 temporarily raised the state sales tax 1/4% and raised income taxes on the wealthiest Californians, using the bulk of the proceeds to undo some of the catastrophic cuts to the state’s education system. They supported Prop 32, the anti-union measure that would have prohibited unions from contributing to political campaigns, but which left a gaping back door open for “business interests” to make unlimited contributions of their own. That measure was flatly rejected by the voters.
The club also supported Prop 33, the pet project of Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph, who bankrolled 99.5% of the $16.2 million “Yes on 33” campaign. Voters saw that one for what it was, a blatant money grab by a greedy billionaire and swatted it away at the polls.
Their endorsement of Prop B, the so-called “budget reform” initiative has actually cost the city money instead of saving, putting San Diego from a projected budget surplus back into a $40 million deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. But it was promoted by DeMaio, former mayor Jerry Sanders, and the Lincoln Club as “fiscally responsible.” It will also likely be deemed illegal under state law–just a minor nuisance to be ignored.
The club’s list of candidate endorsements is a veritable who’s who of regional Republicans. Not a single viable Democratic or independent candidate to be found in any competitive race anywhere (although to their credit, they did back judicial candidate Garland Peed over the Birther Gary Kreep, who ended up eking out the victory, much to the horror of any informed voter). The club touts the odd Democratic endorsement here and there, but those are in non-competitive races where the Republican has no chance of winning, so they merely chose the most conservative candidate available.
Oddly enough, the club’s endorsements look an awful lot like the local Republican Party’s, including that of 2014 City Council candidate Chris Cate and DeMaio, further undermining their “non-partisan” claim.
This is hardly what one could ever reasonably call a non-partisan organization. They’re about as partisan as it gets. And to insist otherwise is an insult to the voters of San Diego, because in this day and age “pro-business” is nothing more than code for “Republican.”
“In many ways, the Lincoln Club is the Republican Party in San Diego County. Without them, you would not have [Mayor Jerry] Sanders, you would not have [Councilmember Lorie] Zapf. A lot of electeds need them in order to get to where they are,” politico Steve Rivera told CityBeat’s Kelly Davis in her 2012 profile of the club.
‘Ol Honest Abe must be turning in his grave.
Michael C. Burgess says
A lot of Americans make the mistake of thinking the Lincoln Club represents gay Republicans, confusing it with the Log Cabin Republicans. I blame the popularity of Lincoln Logs, which are a popular children’s toy.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
A good point, Mr. Burgess, and to further confuse the matter, I found out just the other day that Lincoln Logs were invented by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s son in 1916! Who knew?
Brent Beltran says
Good piece, Andy. I’m glad you exposed them as the hypocrites that they are.
In a town – our town – where 1 out of 6 makes a living directly from the DOD – the Lincoln Club’s embrace of all things Republican do show how out of touch they are with the interests of our city.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
Good that Andy’s highlighted the Lincoln Club’s predictable endorsement of a right-wing carpetbagger as part of the GOP’s attempt to claw back the seat in Congress now held by moderate Democrat Scott Peters. Peters is a perfect fit for the electorate in the recently impartially redistricted 52nd Congressional District. People in this area benefit from an intelligent and thoughtful Congressman who really knows the community from past service on City Council as well as the Port Commission, someone who is local, practical and pragmatic — not a doctrinaire ideologue bent on proving a point with Koch Brothers/Reason Foundation funding.