Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Open Letter to Members of the San Diego Democratic Central Committee

Hello Fellow Democrats,

Tonight you will get to make a choice to endorse a candidate for San Diego Mayor.  Choose correctly, and you can turn this election into a win-win for Democrats, progressives, and other left-leaning types. Choose badly and we can end up with Kevin Falconer as our mayor.  Ick.  And here's the choice you should make - endorse no one.

Now before I explain my reasoning, let me first give you a few bonafides.  I used to serve on the Central Committee, and also served on the Executive Committee for the San Diego County Democratic Party, while also serving as the President of the San Diego County Young Democrats.  Hell, I served with the three former chairs of the Party - Kennan, Bob, and Maureen - while I was on the Executive Committee.  While I am no longer as active as I used to be (such is the practice of law), I am still a Democrat in good standing, and I think this blog speaks for itself.

Let me also say this - I don't have a dog in this fight.  I barely know Fletcher or Alvarez, but know people who do, and they highly of both. I supported Aguirre for City Attorney, and loved his bulldozer mentality in City Hall, along with his stirring speeches at during our Central Committee meetings. So, really, I'd be happy with any of these men as Mayor (though I would've preferred Toni).

So, this letter isn't about picking one candidate or another, its about being smart. And right now, the smart play is to not endorse anyone. Here's why - as long as you do not endorse any candidate in this race, Alvarez and Fletcher (especially Fletcher) will go from Democratic club to Democratic club vying for endorsements.  In the process, Fletcher will be pulled further and further to the left.  This isn't just because he will be fighting for endorsements, but because he will spend more and more time talking to progressives, listening to them, and answering their questions.  He will develop greater connections to the Democratic Party and to progressive groups.  Alvarez, meanwhile, will get the lion's share of these endorsements.  He's a strong progressive, he's smart, and well-liked.  Even where he doesn't win, the competition for endorsements will increase his name ID.

In short, forcing both of these candidates to vie for Democratic club endorsements will strengthen both candidates in areas of weakness.  Alvarez increases his name ID, and Fletcher becomes more and more involved in the Party he joined a few months ago.  This doesn't happen if you endorse either candidate.

By the way, about Fletcher's conversion. Before we hold Fletcher's recent conversion from Republican to Independent to Democrat against him, let's remember that his conversion was a huge coup for us. Fletcher was a rising star of the Republican Party until recently. Let's remember that he's backed by Lorena Gonzalez, the most successful Labor leader we've had in San Diego in a long time.  Let's remember that we poached with an eye towards his future run for public office and that Fletcher now is the frontrunner in the race.

What you should absolutely not do is endorse either candidate (or Aguirre).  If you endorse Fletcher (he is the frontrunner, after all), you piss off a good Democrat in Alvarez, and Fletcher can ignore Democrats in his run for mayor.  If you endorse Alvarez, you push Fletcher further to the middle, and we lose influence on a guy who could be mayor.  Also, remember that more likely than not, one of these guys will run against Falconer in the run-off.  So, we want both to be strong.

Now I know that you will be asked to endorse based on your principles, or based on your emotions, or based on connections, but you need to think strategically.  Both of these men - Alvarez and Fletcher - are strong candidates, and both represent the future of the San Diego Democratic Party.  Let's do what we can to build both of these guys up.  That way, we end up with 1 guy as mayor, and the other guy as a strong candidate for a higher office further down the line.  Its the smart play.


Phat Jim

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