San Diego Becomes Ground Zero in Presidential Contests (For a Few Days, Anyway)
By Doug Porter
As May slides into June, enthusiasm about election contests big and small is sweeping San Diego. Hope, an elusive feeling in an era of pessimism, is in the air.
Democrats Senator Bernie Sanders and ex-President Bill Clinton both campaigned in the area. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump is holding a rally at the Convention Center on Friday, prompting promises of protests from activists throughout the region.
Away from the bright lights and big crowds, campaigning for local offices has reached a fevered pitch. Democrats, environmentalists, and organized labor are providing volunteers, who are going door-to-door in City Council contests, backing up direct mail campaigns. Republicans are carpet bombing the city with money for TV ads, slick (and often questionable) mailers and paid canvassers.
The good news from my perspective is that early ballot returns show a high level of interest in the primary from Democratic voters. The locally based National University System Institute for Policy Research reports a surge in voter registration with more than 850,000 new voters statewide signing up between January and March.
Bernie at the Border
Earlier in the day on Saturday, Senator Sanders toured Friendship Park, a location near the westernmost point of the border, where separated families from San Diego and Tijuana can see each other (through a fence) on the weekends.
Joining him were Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, and Maria Puga, widow of Anastasio Hernández Roja, who died of a heart attack after Border Patrol agents beat him and shot him repeatedly with a taser. Here’s what Sen Sanders had to say:
“All of this tells us why we need comprehensive immigration reform,” Sanders said after hearing the stories of families who can only see their loved ones on weekends. “I would hope that the Republicans in Congress understand that we have a very, very broken immigration system and that it must be reformed and that they should in fact work with Democrats to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If not and if I am elected president of the United States, I will use the executive powers that the president has to do that the best that I can.”
Sanders Events Draw ‘Yuuge’ Crowds
Despite all the ‘clickbait’ articles suggesting increasing tensions between Sanders and Clinton efforts, the reality is that both campaigns have turned down the heat on each other while still stoking the fires of their supporters.
An estimated 10,000 Sanders supporters showed up at a Saturday afternoon rally in National City. Comedian George Lopez and actress Shailene Woodley both appeared on the stage, as did former City Council candidate Carol Kim, now Political Director of the San Diego Building Trades.
‘Our big enemies are Ignorance, Apathy, and Injustice. And every day you’re out there, talking to voters and having meaningful conversations with them, you are winning. You are winning against those big enemies. We are winning against Ignorance, Apathy, and Injustice. Don’t forget that.'”
Here’s a snip of the reporting on Bernie, from the Los Angeles Times:
“I’m running for president because we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors,” Sanders said at yet another of his massive rallies, this one in Kimball Park with an estimated 10,000 attendees.
He said the goal of the campaign was ending “the rigged economy.”
“We will not allow the Trumps of the world to divide us up,” he said.
Sanders has continued to campaign hard against Clinton, even though she is close to winning enough delegates to clinch the nomination. In an interview before his speech, Sanders said he believed Democrats would close ranks after the fissures that opened in the primaries.
The Times of San Diego’s reporting on the Sunday rally at Rancho Buena Vista High School stadium indicated that Sanders’ pitch to his supporters focuses on polling showing him to be a better candidate going up against Donald Trump in the general election.
“I think the objective evidence is very clear that in virtually every national poll and every state poll, we defeat Trump by larger numbers than does Secretary Clinton,” Sanders said to a roaring crowd. “So I say to every Democrat in this country and those delegates who are going to the convention in Philadelphia, if you want the strongest candidate to make sure that Trump does not become president, we are that campaign.”
It’s not just the poll numbers that Sanders cited to make his point during his hour-long speech.
“Anybody who looks at Secretary Clinton’s campaign and our campaign understands that the enthusiasm and the energy and the drive is with us,” he said. “And when there is energy and people are prepared to stand up and fight for a better America, voter turnout goes higher. And when voter turnout goes high, progressives and Democrats win.”
Bill Clinton Comes to Town
The would-be First-Man and former President appeared at a rally in Chula Vista and a north county fundraiser on Saturday.
From the Los Angeles Times:
At events at high schools in Chula Vista and Pomona, the former president largely ignored his wife’s Democratic challenger, Bernie Sanders, in favor of a few gibes in the direction of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
He derided Trump’s planned wall on the Mexican border and said his campaign theme reflected a desire to turn back on the social gains of recent generations.
“ ‘Make America Great Again’ is another way of saying mostly how great it’s been” in the past, Clinton said in Pomona.
“If you believe that, that’s your choice,” he said, adding: “America wasn’t so great the way it used to be.”
San Diego City Contests
This was a big weekend for canvassing, with the UCSD Tritons for Bernie group joining Sarah Saez’s campaign for D9 City Council in going door-to-door.
Meanwhile, D9 candidate Georgette Gomez, who also had people working the streets held a fundraiser hosted by Democrats for Equality Saturday night featuring Assemblywoman Toni Atkins and former Assemblywoman Chris Kehoe.
Former City Councilman Ed Harris has released a hard-hitting commercial aimed at Mayor Faulconer’s 911 call center foibles:
Independent candidate Lori Saldaña released a statement calling on Mayor Faulconer to take action, following an incident at Padres game where the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was left standing on the field as the public address system played an earlier night’s version of the national anthem.
Now would be a good time for Kevin Faulconer to demonstrate that there is more to his vaunted support of Marriage Equality and a San Diego AIDS Memorial than lip service.
The San Diego Municipal Code gives the Human Relations Commission — whose members are appointed by the Mayor — jurisdiction to investigate the public humiliation of 100 members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus before almost 40,000 attendees of the Padres-Dodgers game at Petco Park on Saturday night.
(The Padres have since fired a contractor and dismissed an employee in connection with the incident.)
The Saldaña campaign has released their own video, calling attention to the city’s failure to process at backlog of rape evidence kits:
Both Saldaña and Harris attended the National City Bernie Sanders rally.
All Fired Up Over Trump
Frank Gormlie has the rundown on groups organizing protests in response to Donald Trump’s visit later this week:
At least four networks or groups are organizing protests outside the Trump rally. One has also stated its intention of organizing something inside his event. One of the groups is mobilizing protesters from the LA area as well. And, of course, each network has their own facebook page.
I’m Taking the Rest of the Week Off
As much as it pains me to say this, I won’t be in town for The Donald’s visit. I will be out of town for a long-planned family event. This column will return on June 1st.
On This Day: 1903 – An estimated 100,000 textile workers, including more than 10,000 children, struck in the Philadelphia area. Among the issues: 60-hour workweeks, including night hours, for the children. 1934 – In Bienville Parish, Louisiana, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed by Texas Rangers. The bank robbers were riding in a stolen Ford Deluxe. 1970 – The Grateful Dead played its first British concert at the Hollywood Rock Festival. It was also their first show outside of the U.S.
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