Tomorrow is Halloween. Are we in for something scary?
But, as in a lot of horror movies, so many things in San Diego politics never seem to die — they just keep coming back, over and over again. That’s just how we roll here in the place “where happy happens.” It’s not scary, but it’s not particularly exciting either.
While the vast majority of people in San Diego are not paying the least bit of attention to local races heading into 2018, there has been quite a bit of petty drama surrounding the San Diego Board of Supervisors District 4 race in recent weeks.
It appears that local Republican operatives have decided to kill Nathan Fletcher’s most recent political aspirations with a strong dose of my all-powerful San Diego Free Press mojo from the 2013 mayor’s race by quoting me extensively on an anti-Fletcher website and, if my social media feed can be trusted, some people are in quite a twist about it.
In fact, I have been contacted by folks telling me that other candidates are citing me chapter and verse and that I needed to do something about it whether that was to disown my previous columns or to unleash my word-hoard against Fletcher anew.
I won’t do either.
While they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in this case, it’s just the usual political dishonesty that we should expect from the GOP from San Diego to Washington, D.C. Anybody who thinks I am in league with the local GOP has either never read a word I’ve written here or is simply not the sharpest tool in the shed.
But just for the sake of clarity, let me echo Doug Porter: I support anyone BUT the Republican candidate in this race.
So what do I think of Fletcher at this stage in his long journey from GOP loyalist and Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge signer, to purple person Independent, to instant Democrat after the Filner scandal, to the current incarnation?
I think he’s a super ambitious politician who, after losing in the mayor’s race in 2013, wants to get back into the game.
What’s different is that he has married Lorena Gonzalez whose record in Sacramento has been fantastic since the days of the San Diego left’s implosion in the wake of the Filner debacle. While I was on the other side of the mayoral primary in 2013 from the Assemblywoman, I truly respect the good work she has done in Sacramento since that time, the recent passage of AB 805 being a stellar example of her many legislative accomplishments. If she has any impact on her husband’s politics, it will likely be very good.
In addition to this, Fletcher has spent several years making connections in the community, staking out solid positions on the minimum wage, the climate, and education as well as other issues. Full disclosure: he has even met with my union president and earned the endorsement of the Board of Trustees of the San Diego Community College District where I teach.
And lots of people in Democratic circles like him and want to aid him on his road to political redemption by doing things like pushing an early endorsement to clear the field. Thus his inside game remains intact for better or worse depending on where you stand.
As opposed to his last run, this time Fletcher has the inside track with the Democratic Party’s early endorsement as well as a number of labor unions and community groups lining up behind him ready to toss his Republican past into the dustbin of history. Simply put, he’s done what he hadn’t done when he entered the mayor’s race as a Democrat in 2013—his due diligence.
In sum, it’s Fletcher’s to lose, so if a few of my zombie columns bring him down, it might be time for him to hang it up for good.
I don’t think they will.
Does that erase his record as a Republican? No. Should it earn him another look from Democratic voters? That’s up to them.
My sense is that the folks in his corner and elsewhere pontificating in the media (both mainstream and social) who want to refight the 2013 race or turn this into a Bernie versus Hillary proxy battle are engaging in an analysis that, to put it nicely, lacks depth and offers little insight.
The only thing that should matter for progressive voters in this contest is whether Fletcher, despite his past record, can do enough to convince them not just that he is a “real” Democrat, but that he is a person who will represent their values and enact policies that are worthy of them.
They might also rightfully ask whether he truly represents their community. It’s also fair to wonder when San Diego progressives will ever develop a bench deep enough that we won’t need to look to converted Republicans for help in the first place. Why are there always so many retreads in the front of the line and so few fresh faces?
Is the push for Fletcher a return to San Diego business as usual politics and the usual triangulation rather than trying to build that base? Is Fletcher in line with the values of the New Democrats or is he planting his flag squarely in the progressive camp?
These are all fair questions and those who want to swat them away are doing a disservice to the process.
In the final analysis, calls for unity that seek to marginalize progressive voices should not be heeded but neither should we foreclose the possibility of political redemption. We need a lot more of it.
From here, I pass the baton in this race to Doug Porter who will be ably covering the county contests from here on out.
The Real Battle Royale: Nightmare on DNC Street
Outside of San Diego, there is a real battle going on in the Democratic Party, whether it is the New Democrats rallying support to marginalize progressives as I wrote about two weeks ago or the DNC’s purging of progressives and doing what they can to reassert the stale hegemony of the old guard. As In These Times noted of recent events on the national level:
For all the talk of party unity and compromise, the Democratic establishment has shown time and again that it knows exactly what is at stake in the current contest between the party’s progressive and corporate wings, and that it will always act with sufficient ruthlessness to maintain its hold over the party.
Progressives should take note and follow the establishment’s lead. To repurpose a famous saying, a well-behaved grassroots seldom makes history.
If the end-result of this is the triumph of the corporatists inside the party whose base overwhelmingly wants to think of itself as the progressive “resistance,” the result will be a real nightmare for ordinary Americans who desperately need a party that is not afraid to fight back hard with a vision that speaks to more than simply not being Trump.