Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why I'm supporting Alvarez by Larry Remer

This is an edited version of an email I wrote to a very close friend who is supporting Nathan Fletcher for Mayor explaining why I’ve chosen to support David Alvarez. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thinking with the broader Progressive community.

I like Nathan Fletcher. In fact, I like him a lot. He’s VERY SMART. (David Alvarez is also VERY SMART.) And he’s very dynamic.

I am also really glad that Nathan has become a Democrat. We should welcome him with open arms. As crazy as the Republican Party has become, it’s amazing that there aren’t more defections. 

BUT my problems with Nathan’s mayoral candidacy are the following:

One. I am worried that Nathan simply CAN NOT WIN (against Faulconer or against DeMaio or against any well-funded Republican) and those who are supporting Nathan (and are doing so in good faith) are inadvertently setting up San Diego for Kevin Faulconer.

It’s no accident that the Republicans are running Faulconer. They are a lot savvier and more disciplined than the Democrats. They pulled their top people together. They commissioned a lot of polling. They thrashed it all out and they got behind their STRONGEST candidate. Believe me, they polled Nathan Fletcher versus Carl DeMaio and Nathan Fletcher versus Kevin Faulconer and Nathan Fletcher versus Ron Roberts and even Nathan Fletcher versus Mickey Mouse.

They (the Republicans) are very confident Faulconer can beat Fletcher. That’s because Nathan has what we pundits and spin doctors call “very serious negatives”. 

This election is all about TRUST. Bob Filner, after all, betrayed our TRUST. 

So, what do you think the voters are going to TRUST after the Republicans spend a gazillion dollars pummeling Nathan for all of the various contradictory positions he’s taken? Remember, this will be a special Mayoral election where turnout will be more conservative than the Presidential general last November that re-elected Obama that elected Bob Filner.

I don’t want to go into the gory details of how somebody like Karl Rove can and will fillet and fry Nathan because I don’t want to give Papa Doug and his ilk any new ideas. But, trust me, that’s what’s coming.
Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner were the most polarizing political figures in San Diego. Yet, DeMaio got 47% of the vote in the high turnout Presidential. Now, DeMaio is gone (Filner too) and I certainly don’t expect the DeMaio voters will now turn to Fletcher?

Enter now a “supposed” moderate named Kevin Faulconer. I say “supposed” because we insiders all know he’s 100% with Carl DeMaio on policy. He’s really Carl DeMaio with a smile. But the voters know him as a 2-term Councilman with a sprinkling of environmental credentials and enough ertatz accomplishments to be “sold” as a moderate who can be “TRUSTED”. 

So, that’s my first concern.

Two.  We do have another excellent option. David Alvarez is a lifelong Democrat with a proven history. David is a solid progressive. Pro-choice his entire career. Pro-environment when tough votes needed to be taken. Pro-education. Pro- worker. I could go on.  Look at the phenomenal job he did this week on the Council championing the Barrio Logan Community Plan and earning his community a measure of justice and self-determination.

David grew up in Barrio Logan, was the first in his family to attend college, and lives in the community with his family. He has a strong moral rudder and he knows which side of the race/class/neighborhood/working people divide he stands on. If elected, he will be the first Latino mayor in San Diego’s history.

Over the weekend, 150 people gathered in David’s backyard to start his campaign and walk precincts. He doesn’t have a multi-million dollar paid walk program like Nathan does. He knows that he’s not well known across the city and that the odds against him are high. But he believes that the Mayor of San Diego should be chosen by the people in the neighborhoods and not by billionaires (Dem or Rep) who use their wealth to manipulate the process.

For a parallel, just look at what just happened in NYC. The “smart” money was behind Quinn. She had the money. She had the Name ID. She had all the “smart people” and all the insiders. But DeBlasio had better politics – and a solid track record to prove it.  DeBlasio stood up to police. He stood up to Wall Street. He stood up FOR working people. He stood up to all of the self-appointed power brokers – and now he’s poised to be New York’s next Mayor.

Thinking about San Diego, those who believe that Nathan is “inevitable” because of all the money that seems to be behind him, just remember that money didn’t elect Peter Q. Davis, Ron Roberts or Steve Francis.
This, to me, is what primary elections are for. This is when we should vote with our hearts and with our beliefs . . . when we should be called to answer to our better natures.

Three. As happy as I am that Nathan is now a Democrat, I think he needs to prove himself before we anoint him as our savior and our leader.

In my book, Nathan should run for City Council. There are openings in Districts 2 and 6. We need more Democrats on the Council regardless of who the Mayor turns out to be. Nathan could/should serve a term or two on the Council. He can prove himself and his Democratic credentials by making tough votes, working with neighborhood groups, parsing thorny problems and showing us some of his mettle. 

But, instead he runs for Mayor. He’s said that he didn’t plan to run, but suddenly it became open. Well, he still didn’t have to run. Much as I dislike the Republicans, at the end of the day their best candidates sat down and hammered it out. Think about it: Carl DeMaio (of all people!!!!) took one for the team.

Why didn’t Nathan offer do the same? Why didn’t he try to sit down with Toni Atkins and Todd Gloria and David Alvarez et al and say, We need to get behind the strongest candidate. Let’s poll. Let’s assess strengths and weaknesses. Let’s agree that we are all in this together and unite the progressive forces for the betterment of San Diego.

Instead, he got out in front with the argument that HE ALONE was the best candidate to beat DeMaio. No proof. And – most important of all – no accountability. We all know he wants to be Mayor. He says that he is running as a Democrat. If he fails to make it through the primary, I assume he will he endorse and work for David Alvarez. Has anyone asked him that question? 

Having said all of that, if Nathan Fletcher does emerge in a runoff as a candidate against Kevin Faulconer, I will support him. I believe him when he says that his politics have evolved. I believe that he’s no longer the Republican back-bencher with the abysmal record. And I believe he will be a better Mayor for the issues I hold dear than Kevin Faulconer, if that’s the choice.

But, in the interim, I am supporting David Alvarez because:

-He’s a proven progressive.

-He’s accountable to the community.

-It’s time to vote my beliefs and not “settle”.

-We need to keep not just Nathan Fletcher and Kevin Faulconer honest, but we also need to keep the system honest.

Larry Remer has been a fixture in San Diego progressive politics for more than 40 years. He worked on the DOOR in the early 70s, went on to found SAN DIEGO NEWSLINE and later became a political consultant who works for progressive Democratic candidates and to pass school bonds including Propositions S and Z for San Diego public schools.