By Doug Porter
The good news about 2015 is that no elections are scheduled for San Diego. Last year saw three opportunities for people to express their preferences at the ballot box. By the time it was all over even hard core political junkies were disgusted.
I still have nightmares about the DeMaio/Peters contest… DeMaio coming out with a new app that will automatically block Democrats from his social media accounts. Peters announcing a hack that replaces DeMaio’s avatar with a picture of Dick Cheney… Being trapped in a room with TV screens blaring with Political Action Committee ads playing the darkest of music… Or worse, DeMaio winning… DeMaio grinning… [WAKE UP!]
Today I’ll engage in speculation based on rumor and innuendo, along with whispered words of advice from a bookie I used to know, about political personages and their likely impact in 2015, even if it doesn’t mean running for higher office..
Do not try this at home. This is for entertainment purposes only. And all stunts are by a professional driver on a closed course….
City Councilman David Alvarez. He may have lost the race for Mayor, but he ain’t going away. Earlier this month Alvarez was hailed in The Nation magazine as part of the “Group of Feisty Urban Progressives Who Want to Transform the Country One City at a Time.” Voice of San Diego’s pronouncements aside, Alvarez is my choice as the best bet for progressive ideas on the City Council, in part because he’s looking to stay local, at least for now.
Assemblywoman Toni Atkins. She’ll be in the media a lot this year in her role as Speaker. And if you hadn’t already noticed, Atkins is already in high profile mode locally; parades, awards and almost as many media events as Kevin Faulconer, who is likely to be her opponent in the 2016 race for the top job in San Diego.
SDUSD School Board Member Kevin Beiser. The question here, if assorted observers are to be believed, is “What office is he not running for?” Four scenarios are making the rounds:
- He’s going to run for the District 7 seat on the City Council against incumbent Scott Sherman. Sherman’s vulnerability in 2016 could be tied to his as yet undefined role in opposing the minimum wage referendum of the ballot.
- He is going to run for Assembly District 78 currently occupied by the termed out Toni Atkins. He would have to move into the district to do that, but it wouldn’t be hard to do: Beiser owns a condo in Hillcrest.
- He’s going to challenge Todd for Susan Davis’ Congressional seat whenever that comes open. This rumor feeds off of his constant and relentless push for name recognition in places that weren’t that important for the race he was actually running last fall.
- He’s going to sit out 2016 all together because he made A LOT of enemies this past election cycle. This scenario says Beiser wants to to quiet speculation about his ambitions and the charge he’s not really dedicated to his job at the school board.
Governor Jerry Brown. Now governance is about his legacy. He’s finished with running for office, but is sitting on a huge pile of unspent campaign contributions from this year’s laugh of a contest.
The money will get spent, trust me. Will he support a ballot initiative to address the long term financial stability of California? And what will it look like? Insiders say his choices are to either make Proposition 30 permanent or push for a split property tax roll in 2016. The prospect of Republicans campaigning by misrepresenting the latter move as an attack on senior citizens’ property taxes (Prop 13) has many Democrats concerned. A big dollop of campaign cash could allay those fears.
City Councilman Todd Gloria. A popular notion is that he’ll run for mayor once he’s termed out in 2016. I don’t see that happening unless Toni Atkins passes up the contest. Gloria came up in politics working on Congresswoman Susan Davis’ staff and I believe he’d ultimately prefer to be in Washington rather than San Diego getting stabbed in the back by Jerry Sanders. The question is whether Susan Davis is willing to step aside.
What’s becoming more clear are the candidates vying for Gloria’s District 3 seat in 2016. Anthony Bernal, currently employed as Director of Business and Community Projects Todd Gloria, has thrown his hat in the ring, Chris Ward, chief of staff to Sen. Marty Block, who has already filed and put together a campaign organization, garnering early endorsements from a huge list of politically connected people.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. She isn’t running for anything in 2016 other than reelection (she’ll be a shoo-in). Still, she’s a player to watch, having made a big impression with legislative ideas (paid sick days, diaper subsidies) that resonate with voters. Look for her to be everywhere, piling up political IOU’s by campaigning all over the state for Democrats. She’s clearly on a path for statewide office. The only question in my mind is which one.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. He did an admirable job of staying above the fray last year, maintaining a safe distance from the heavy handed political tactics of the Lincoln Club/Chamber of Commerce set.
Along the way hizzoner has flipped on core issues without much fanfare. Back in the days of yore he wrote Op Eds against former mayor Filner’s actions on managed competition, then came in and instituted the same freeze for the same reason. He opposed water recycling for years then flipped so much he even marshaled other Republicans to effectively nullify Proposition A two years after they were out stumping for it (and spending money on it).
Faulconer’s office appears to be in constant campaign mode. If the mayor takes a shortcut on the way to work, it’s likely there will be press release hailing his innovative routing technique and concern for city neighborhood he may have passed through.
Former District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris. He’s already made it clear that he covets the District 78 Assembly seat in 2016.
From the OB Rag:
Harris made this announcement down at OB’s waterfront, Tuesday, Nov. 11th, after we queried him on his future plans. Harris steps down from the council seat on December 10th, the day that Lori Zapf is sworn in as the newly-elected rep for the district.
Since his selection as District 2 council rep 7 months ago, Harris has won a lot of friends in the mainly coastal district. This is definitely true for Ocean Beach. Harris’ support for the Community Plan Update was solid – and he led the City Council in adopting the Update unanimously even in the face of challenges to the Plan by the San Diego Planning Commission.
Then when Harris made a strong stand in rejecting the proposed lease for Belmont Park, all in the interests of getting more for the public out of the deal, his support in District 2 jumped enormously. In contrast, at the time, Zapf favored the lease, as the rep for District 6.
Poway School Board Member TJ Zane. The former President & CEO, Lincoln Club of San Diego County won a spot on the troubled school district’s board last fall, coming in with 14.4% of the vote to win one of three seats out of a field of eight candidates. I don’t know if he’s actually running for anything yet, but look to 2015 as a year where he raises his profile.
City Councilwoman Lori Zapf. Even though Zapf isn’t running again until 2018, she makes the list as a politician who stumbled badly. In the wake of caustic comments made by a staffer aimed at a political protest, Zapf’s performance makes her damaged goods for the local GOP. Any further stumbles could reflect badly on the GOP’s wunderkind Kevin Faulconer. Look for her to maintain a very low profile this year.
Zombies. No discussion of politics in San Diego is complete without mentioning former candidates Carl DeMaio and Nathan Fletcher. Could DeMaio pull a Nixonesque comeback? Is Fletcher sincere about being done with running for office?
My Magic 8-Ball fortune globe says “No Way” for 2016. On the other hand, questions about 2018 get the response “Reply hazy try again.”
Political Activism in 2015
The really important person in politics for 2015 is you. You have choices to make, choices that can be way more satisfying than settling for the lessor of two evils. And if we all do a good job in the coming year, perhaps our choices in 2016 will be a bit more palatable. It’s time to educate, to agitate, to make some noise.
I expect the surge of non-electoral political activities, including demonstrations to increase in the coming year. Shifting the national consensus on issues like racism, climate change and income inequality will come from persistent efforts from activists of every stripe in the coming year.
The way I see achieving this kind of fundamental change is like just about everything else in life: you show up every day and do the best you can, one step at a time.
On This Day:1879 – Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” was first performed, at Paignton, Devon, England. 1936 – A sit-down strike at General Motors spread to Flint, Mich., lasting 44 days before ending in union victory. 1940 – California’s first freeway was officially opened. It was the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena.
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