By Doug Porter
With just under 200,000 mail-in and provisional ballots left to be counted, two contests thought to be victories for San Diego Democrats have flipped.
Incumbent Dave Roberts now trails Del Mar Mayor Kristin Gaspar by 296 votes in the race for District 3 County Supervisor, a reversal of fortunes with serious long-term implications for the local Democratic Party.
The latest vote counts for Mayor of Lemon Grove now show Raquel Vasquez beating George Gastil by 12 votes.
County Board of Education incumbent Rick Shea, on the other hand, is holding off a charter school lobby financed challenge by Mark Wyland, leading 100,331 to 98,883.
A Crucial County Contest
The final results of the contest for Board of Supervisors may determine the County’s leadership through the next decade.
Supervisor Dave Roberts is the only Democrat in the five-member group, wielding executive, legislative and quasi-judicial power in a county larger than Rhode Island with a $5.3 billion budget. Much of the spending for health and human services for the region is funneled through the County.
District 3 includes Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Solana Beach, as well as a large expanse of northern San Diego, including parts of Carmel Valley, Mira Mesa, Scripps Ranch and Rancho Penasquitos.
Roberts was elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2012, replacing retiring supervisor Pam Slater-Price. He narrowly defeated Republican Steve Danon, chief of staff to Congressman Brian Bilbray, in the November 2012 runoff election. Danon held off conceding for nine days after the election.
In 2015, Roberts survived a scandal trigged by former staff members filing claims seeking monetary relief while alleging various acts of wrongdoing, including misuse of county resources.
Eventually, the other Supervisors agreed to settlements totaling $310,000 for three former staffers of Dave Roberts. They clearly weren’t happy about the deal, releasing a scathing statement, saying in part:
“In the opinion of the Board, activities that occurred in the District 3 Supervisorial office, at a minimum, showed poor judgment by the Supervisor. And, although not conclusive, the investigative material surrounding the inappropriate use of County funds, promoting a hostile work environment, an alleged bribe, campaigning on County time, improper use of a County vehicle and retaliation against District 3 staff members is significant and a matter of concern for the Board of Supervisors. If lawsuits were to be filed by the three former staff members and Supervisor Dave Roberts is named as a defendant, the County would be required to retain outside counsel for him at County expense. According to County Counsel, the litigation cost to defend Supervisor Dave Roberts through trial in the three cases, win or lose, could exceed $1 million. In addition, we believe it is unlikely we would prevail on all three claims.”
During the months leading up the settlement, rumors about additional misdeeds by Roberts were rampant. Consultant Tom Shepard parted ways with the Supervisor and was replaced by Gary Gartner, who aggressively challenged the credibility of the accusers.
I’m told that the local Democratic Party engaged in a quiet search for a replacement candidate. They were unable to find a high-profile substitute and some of Roberts’ financial backers refused to go along with a scheme to force his resignation.
In April 2016, eleven months after the original allegations surfaced, County DA Bonnie Dumanis announced her office would not file criminal charges against Supervisor Dave Roberts.
From the Union-Tribune coverage of the DA’s announcement:
“As with any case, the purpose of a DA investigation is to determine whether a crime has been committed,” according to the statement. “The threshold for criminal charges is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Supervisor Dave Roberts violated county and civil workplace policies, which are civil matters where the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, a lower threshold.”
Term Limits Upset the Same Old-Same Old
In 2010 the local union movement overcame their natural opposition to term limits and supported Measure B. This meant the sitting Supervisors were more dependent on using the powers of incumbency to determine the future make up of their club.
By 2020 the seats held by Supervisor Greg Cox and Ron Roberts will be up for grabs, and Democrats have high expectations.
Both parties are thinking ahead, said longtime San Diego political consultant Tom Shepard.
Shepard said two supervisors who will be termed out — Ron Roberts and Greg Cox — have districts that are predominantly Democratic, so Dave Roberts’ seat could become pivotal. Ron Roberts will be termed out in 2018, and Cox will be termed out in 2020.
“So the 3rd District then becomes the swing seat,” Shepard said. “And I think there’s a desire on the part of both parties to get their guy, or gal, elected.”
The sitting supervisors following the 2020 election will oversee redistricting efforts for the County. And those decisions will help set the partisan tone for the following decade.
The name I’ve heard mentioned most often as the potential Democratic standard bearer for Ron Roberts’ seat, which includes much of the City of San Diego is… drum roll, please… Nathan Fletcher.
City Councilman David Alvarez has been mentioned, along with State Senator Ben Hueso, as a candidate for Greg Cox’s seat. This could bring about a clash between two long-feuding camps in the Latino community.
I’m sure there are other candidates, given the potential powers of the position. The above are just the names I’ve heard mentioned. That, along with $5.25, will get you a latte somewhere I’m sure.
Trumpets Tramping Around DC
The media on both coasts reported on a DC meeting of wannabe Neo-Nazis, otherwise referred to as the alt-right.
From the Los Angeles Times:
“An awakening among everyone has occurred with this Trump election,” Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist think tank, said during opening remarks.
“We’re not quite the establishment now, but I think we should start acting like it.”
Several hundred pro-white nationalists showed up for the day-long confab, buoyed by Trump’s popularity and the role they now intend to play in bringing white identity politics to Washington.
Sitting around conference tables, the formally dressed men more resembled Washington lobbyists than the robed Ku Klux Klansmen or skinhead toughs that often represent white supremacists, though they share many familiar views.
From Talking Points Memo:
The speakers heaped praise on the work of Trump’s chief strategist, Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, and on his other appointees to senior roles in the administration.
Asked about Trump picking Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as his attorney general, Spencer glowed.
“The fact that he is going to be at such a high level is a wonderful thing. What Jeff Sessions is not going to do, in terms of not prosecuting federal diversity and fair housing, I think is just as powerful as what he might do,” he told reporters.
As the white nationalists spoke inside the federal building a stones-throw from the White House and from Trump’s International Hotel, dozens of protesters gathered outside holding signs that read “Alt-wrong” and “No fascist USA.” The protest was peaceful absent a scuffle between one conference attendee and two protesters that left the former with a bloody gash on his forehead, according to CNN.
A snip via Twitter from the New York Times and a reminder:
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) November 21, 2016
If you come across a well-dressed Nazi, the story isn’t that he’s well-dressed. It’s that he’s a Nazi. pic.twitter.com/k15I7GyA8u
— Matt O’Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) November 21, 2016
Keeping the Protest in Punk Rock
The band Green Day took the stage at the American Music Awards, and absolutely nobody was surprised when they added an anti-Trump chant to their latest hit, ‘Bang Bang.’ Given how President-elect Trump’s delicate feelings were hurt with a speech asking for tolerance at the end of a Broadway play and a skit on Saturday Night Live, I can only imagine the upcoming reaction from Trump or his flying monkeys.
You are not allowed to play this video with the volume turned down.
ooops! It’s gone.
UPDATE: It should surprise no one that in the age of Trump this video disappeared. You won’t find it on the American Music Awards site. In fact, the only mention of Green Day is limited to their rehearsal.
Here’s a snip I found on Billboard:
UPDATE #2: Another full length version, via Huffpost
On This Day: 1922 – Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was sworn in as the first woman to serve as a member of the Senate. 1960 – George Harrison was deported from Germany for being too young to perform there with the Beatles. 1973 – President Richard M. Nixon’s attorney, J. Fred Buzhardt, announced the presence of an 18½-minute gap in one of the White House tape recordings related to the Watergate case.
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