One of the most interesting aspects of the San Diego's mayoral special election is the existence of Nathan Fletcher. Fletcher fit the mold of the socially liberal, fiscally moderate, San Diego Republican that has been kicking Democrats asses for decades (See Sanders, Jerry; See also Wilson, Pete). Then hurricane DeMaio happened, and the San Diego GOP, which had avoided eats-its-young tendencies of the CA GOP, ate it young. Rather than backing Fletcher, or taking no formal position in the primary, it endorsed DeMaio big-time.
That lead to Fletcher (and his supporters) leaving the Republican Party to become a decline-to-state. And it created an opportunity. As I have said before, Fletcher is the classic little-ray-of-sunshine - he's everyone's friend, people who meet him instinctively trust him, and you end up agreeing with him. Oh, and he is an ex-Marine (I know, I know, there is no such thing), in a military town. Fletcher was a guy on his way up. If the Democrats could get Fletcher to become a Democrat, then they'd have a rockstar candidate in their back pocket. Ultimately, that's what happened. Lorena Gonzalez, Jess Durfee, and even Bob Filner, started wooing Fletcher pretty much from the get-go. Hell, I think they were planning this before the DeMaio endorsement. Either way, they got their man, and planned to stash him away for a few years, let him build up his progressive ties and run him for something.*
Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men. . .Filner ends up being a HUGE perv, resigns after 9 months in office, and Fletcher jumped in the race for Mayor as a Democrat. And, given his general inclination to being mildly pro-government (he actually voted for the State of California to spend money, something Republicans in the State Assembly do not typically do), his support of LGBT rights, and a his pro-biking environmentalism(ish), Fletcher is probably a Democrat at heart.
But of course, Fletcher isn't the only Democrat in the race. David Alvarez has a longer record of progressivism, and generally thought of highly. And so, the Labor Council is backing Alvarez. Or, rather, most of the unions in the Labor Council are supporting Alvarez, the rest are supporting Fletcher. In the meantime, Republican groups are attacking Fletcher because of his Republican past, and that he has "changed parties three times."
This past has sparked an interparty fight within Labor and the Democratic Party. The head of the local American Federation of Teachers (which represent Community College instructors), alleged that Lorena Gonzalez rigged the whole thing so that she could be an Assemblywoman. Nathan Fletcher's confidential Labor Council questionnaire was sent anonymously to create a minor shitstorm.
All of this reminds me, in part, of the recent District 4 campaign between Dwayne Crenshaw and Myrtle Cole.** Labor backed Cole full-tilt, even running misleading attack ads on Crenshaw, because Republicans were sending out anti-Cole mailers. As I noted then, Labor got trolled, and turned what should have been an easy election for them into a knock-down, drag-out fight.
And that's where I think we're headed in the San Diego's special election. This should be an easy election for Labor - Fletcher has the look of a frontrunner, and Alvarez, with mild union backing, could pull the race leftward, while at the same time raising his name identification. Properly done, this campaign could, and should be a win-win for the Democratic Party, the Labor Council and the City of San Diego. But, if the warfare continues, Fletcher will become more hostile to progressive groups, and we could end up with Falconer (the Republican), as mayor.
*By the way, Labor does this all the time because they have to. Republican candidates have, for the most part, deep donor pockets to pull from, and then use that money to gain traction. Progressive groups don't have that luxury, and need to have candidates who can hit the ground running.
**Cole's profiles in courage have thus far been stellar - during the campaign, she claimed that her opponent was a crackhead, practically admitted that the ad was false, and was the last City Councilmember to call on Filner to resign after the 16th or 17th woman came forward. I hate to say I told you so, but. . .