For my friends in places other than San Diego, I am sad to say that I am writing again about the San Diego City Council District 4 Special Election. Sorry. I promise that I'll go back to writing about other topics soon - I have a few thoughts on Benghazi coming up - but with the election coming up, I thought I'd mention this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. . . .yes, its owner does insist on people calling him Papa. . . .yes, its as creepy as it sounds. . . .and, yes, it does believe that Playboy naming its playmate of the year is "breaking news" - but that's besides the point. What is interesting is who's spending what.
In this race there are essentially four major players - Myrtle Cole, Dwayne Crenshaw (my friend), the San Diego Labor Council (known locally as "Labor"for short), and the Tea Party/Downtown Special Interests types. Cole and Dwayne are the candidates, and find themselves in the midst of what is essentially a proxy war between Labor and Downtown. As I wrote in an earlier response to an article in Voice of San Diego,* Labor is trying to buy the election, and Downtown is trying to fuck with Labor because it can.
The fundraising numbers that came out today bear out a lot of what I have said. Dwayne, who has a great deal of support in the District, doubled Cole's fundraising numbers. This is despite the fact that Cole has the explicit backing of Labor, and of the entire Democratic Party establishment, from the mayor on down.
On the independent expenditure side, the Tea Party/Downtown establishment types have spent $60,000, more or less, on the race. In the meanwhile, Labor has spent $200,000 so far. Labor HAS SPENT $200,000 SO FAR. In a voter universe of around 20,000 people. Against a guy who the local liberal alternative weekly, San Diego City Beat, deems to be the true progressive in the race. In other words, Labor has really fucked up here.
Let's take a look at what Labor had going for it going into this race shall we: (1) District 4 is, and has always been, a strong Democratic District; (2) With a few notable exceptions, the candidates were Democrats, and generally pro-Labor; (3) The two candidates in the run-off were definitely pro-Labor.
So, what if Labor had, after spending $70,000 to get Cole into the run-off, decided to back off the race, and let Cole and Crenshaw battle it out on their own? Their best case scenario would have been Cole winning, with their worst case scenario would be Dwayne winning - but since Labor backed off after the primary, he isn't pissed at Labor, and goes back to his natural constituency (progressive Democrats). This race should have been the definition of a win-win.
But of course, Labor didn't do that. Instead, it got rope-a-doped into believing that Downtown actually wanted Dwayne in office, and spent over $200,000. Much of that spending has been on negative mailers. And some of which (as I noted in a previous post) attack Dwayne receiving money as a result of what appears to be a meritorious discrimination lawsuit, equating the lawsuit with "taking money from the community," and mocking what was one of Dwayne's most painful personal experiences. Do you think that, post-election, Dwayne is going to be chummy with Labor? Do you think that the San Diego LGBT community, which has seen one of its leaders ravaged unfairly, are going to be as supportive of Labor in the upcoming years?
So here we are. Instead of having options, Labor is painted into a corner. It has to, HAS TO, spend big to destroy Dwayne. In the meantime, Labor is slowly poisoning its connections with the LGBT community. Oh, and because Labor has relatively big pockets, and don't shift their money around like most PAC's, Dwayne wouldn't be entirely crazy to sue for defamation, especially given the conservative bent of the local judiciary. This ramifications of this race could hang around Labor's neck for years.
Again, I can't stress enough how badly Labor has fucked up here. They should never have been in this position. EVER. And ultimately, that's the strangest part of this race. I know the guys at the Labor Council. I've worked with some of them back in my political days. Heck, one of the guys at the Labor Council was Dwayne's campaign manager not so long ago. Labor's head, Lorena Gonzalez, who's now running for the State Assembly, is a goddamn political superstar who should be Speaker of the Assembly any day now.** But this is just fucked up, and I have to think someone over at Labor has to wonder how they got here.
*Damn, I still need to give Voice of San Diego money.
**Lorena, if you're reading this, and I don't think you are, this is your floor. Anything less would be a disappointment.