The intensity of political campaigning is rising as Californians have one week of mailing in ballots behind them.
Advertising aimed at creating uncertainty in those who don’t follow politics closely, along with messaging featuring deceptive claims is flooding airwaves and filling mailboxes.
The absentee vote tracker at PoliticalData.com, using information from the San Diego County Voter Registrar’s office, says roughly 10% of those receiving absentee ballots in the region had been returned as of Thursday, May 17.
At this point, there are general statistics about who voted by party and locality, but votes on candidates and issues have not been counted. And, because the voting environment is shifting towards more votes by mail, making judgments about the significance of partisan participation at the polls compared to past elections isn’t a good idea.
San Diego’s voter participation appears to be higher than the statewide average (4.5% of mailed ballots returned), except that all counties don’t report data at the same rate.
A sampling of cities in San Diego County indicates early voter enthusiasm is highest in Imperial Beach (14%), followed by El Cajon and Oceanside (12%).
Over the first four days, City of San Diego voters returned roughly 10% of mailed ballots. I was told on Saturday–by a candidate for office–that the number of Democrats already returning ballots was running significantly higher than in past off-year elections.
I have no means of gauging the significance of this claim. The four types of voters in the City of San Diego appear to be mailing in ballots at roughly the same rate. (Democrats 10%, Republicans GOP 11%, No Party Preference 9.5%, and Other 11%)
The various candidates for California Governor are running advertising aimed at deflating or inflating support for their opponents.
Villaraigosa and Newsom are having their past relationships outside of marriage revived. Newsom’s backers are backhandedly promoting the candidacy of Republican John Cox hoping to make the general election contest a slam-dunk.
Bill Bloomfield, a wealthy backer of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Marshall Tuck, paid for mailers fronting former President Obama’s image. Tuck, who is white, is backed by a coalition of billionaire charter school advocates, is running against Tony Thurmond, an African-American candidate endorsed by the state Democratic Party.
California Legislative Black Caucus Chair Assemblymember Chris Holden, State Senator Holly Mitchell and CA HI NAACP President Alice Huffman are calling on Tuck to renounce the mailer, noting that the former chief executive has not endorsed in this contest.
“I find it unbelievable that a billionaire would use his wealth to first try to defeat President Obama, and later exploit his image to defeat another African American candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party”, said Assemblymember Chris Holden, “Marshall Tuck would do well to make clear that he will not stand by sleazy and dishonest political tricks, especially those which abuse race and wealth.”
Tuck’s campaign has also drawn fire for accepting support from Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson, Jr, who participates in a secretive right-wing funders groups called The Gathering.
Via the LA Progressive:
“The Gathering is as close to a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ as you’re likely to find,” Jay Michaelson reported. Attendees are the “wealthiest conservative to hard-right evangelical philanthropists in America and have led the campaigns to privatize public schools, redefine ‘religious liberty,’ fight same-sex marriage, [and] fight evolution…” he wrote. It was at The Gathering where Betsy DeVos said she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom” through public schools. It was there that she and her husband said that school choice was a way to reverse the history of public schools displacing the Church as the center of communities.
Billionaire Bloomfield donated to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and served as National Director of Volunteers for the 2008 McCain campaign against then-Senator Barack Obama.
From the Union-Tribune:
From Manhattan Beach, Bloomfield is an independent who left the Republican party in 2011 and has backed candidates from both sides of the aisle. A one-time independent House candidate and a current board member for California Common Cause, he describes himself as liberal on social issues, but has put millions into pro-charter school groups as well and pro-business candidates and government reform efforts.
In the contest for the 49th Congressional district, he recently spent $41,310 on mailers supporting Democrat Mike Levin. This mailing has fueled the fire of local activists who’ve claimed for months that Levin was a front man for corporate interests.
The San Diego Free Press has endorsed Tony Thurmond in the race for State Superintendent and either Doug Applegate or Paul Kerr in the race for the 49th Congressional District.
Over in the 50th Congressional District, Democrat Josh Butner is now scraping the bottom of the barrel, with mailers attacking progressive Ammar Campa. The missives suggest Campa, who is endorsed by the State Democratic Party, is actually a covert Trump sycophant.
Here’s Campa, keeping it positive in response to those attacks, via Facebook messenger:
“This is a “where were you?” moment in America. I’ve spent the past 15 months campaigning, listening to voters about what keeps them up at night. And today, thanks to voters who have devoted their labor and love to this campaign, we stand the best chance at defeating Hunter.”
The San Diego Free Press has endorsed Ammar Campa in the race for the 50th Congressional District.
The impact of Charter School billionaire backers includes the contests for San Diego County Board of Education, as my colleague Jim Miller points out in his most recent column.
Incumbents Alicia Munoz and Rick Shea are facing opposition with funding from:
…the Charter Public Schools PAC sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association along with Reed Hastings (think Netflix CEO) and Jim and Alice Walton (think Walmart money)…
I’ve learned some new things about opposition candidate Cheryl James-Ward in recent days.
From the Union-Tribune:
The wife of a former San Diego County Office of Education superintendent, who left office after being accused of misusing public funds, is running for the county’s District 5 board of education seat.
Cheryl James-Ward, a former NASA Jet Propulsion Lab engineer who teaches at San Diego State University, is facing incumbent Rick Shea for the seat, which represents schools in the northwestern coastal and inland area of San Diego County.
James-Ward’s husband, Randy Ward, worked as the county schools chief from 2006 to November 2016. He was placed on paid leave in July 2016, one week after being named in a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court.
The suit, brought by the California Taxpayers Action Network, accuses Ward and the former assistant superintendent of business services, Lora Duzyk, of awarding themselves illegal pay raises, self-dealing, conflicts of interests and misuse of public funds, among other things.
Ward also may not be legally allowed to serve on the County Board, given her employment as Chief of Academic Innovation at E3 Civic High.
According to the County Board of Education By Law 9210, “ Any registered voter is eligible to be a member…except the County Superintendent of Schools, any member of his/her stall, OR ANY EMPLOYEE OF A SCHOOL DISTRICT.“ (emphasis added).
Thus there is a real question about whether she should even be on the ballot as she is an employee of a charter school in the San Diego Unified System which falls under the jurisdiction of the County office.
And here’s a minor tidbit about Lund…
Eric Lund’s chosen ballot designation as a ‘college professor’ was rejected after a judge learned the candidate had only taught a couple of part-time classes. He is currently the head of the East County Chamber of Commerce.
The San Diego Free Press has endorsed Alicia Munoz and Rick Shea for County Board of Education.
The race with the most down and dirty campaigning in San Diego is the District 4 County Supervisor’s contest. Specifically, I’m referencing the campaigns/supporters of Lori Saldaña and Nathan Fletcher.
Saldaña supporters have hammered Fletcher with ads highlighting his days and votes years ago as a Republican member of the legislature, contrasting them with her stances during the same era.
This campaign has been waged by the Lincoln Club on the right, and the breakaway Mickey Kasparian-led Working Families Council on the left.
Fletcher, as the Voice of San Diego politics report notes, was hammered by all sides on this topic during his 2013 run for mayor.
Fletcher has spent the last five years trying to be better prepared. Unlike before, he’s not trying to win a middle lane of moderates or even Republicans. He’s trying to be the most Democraty Democrat who has ever Democrated.
The reasoning for the Lincoln Club’s involvement is actually based on a perceived fear of Fletcher being able to garner business support for Democratic initiatives.
VOSD quoted Brian Pepin, the executive director of the Lincoln Club:
“Nathan Fletcher has maintained significant support within the business community, as evidenced by his fundraising. Given the divided opinions of him among business leaders, we would like to avoid dealing with his candidacy beyond June,”
On the left side of the aisle, it’s my opinion that the basis for the attacks on Fletcher are not-so-thinly-veiled attempts at revenge.
To this point, the responses from the Fletcher side to the various accusations have mostly been truth bombs, like highlighting the endorsements of various environmental groups for his campaign over Saldaña.
This weekend, San Diego’s Democratic Party responded to attacks from the Saldaña side with their own missive, one certain to re-open old wounds from the Mayor Grabby-Grabby era.
The San Diego Free Press has endorsed Omar Passons in the D4 Supervisors contest.
On the positive side of things, San Diego District Attorney candidate Geneviéve Jones-Wright’s latest campaign video got a mention in the Politico California Newsletter. It’s positive. Go figure.
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