In local political news today, the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote that Marty Block — everyone’s favorite tax-raising-after-he-promised-not-to-do-so Democrat — is looking to run for the State Senate seat currently held by a termed-out Christine Kehoe.
Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana is in the mix, and there are rumblings that newly-elected Assemblywoman Toni Atkins might jump in.
All depending upon redistricting, of course, SD Rostra’s Jim Sills wrote back in February that Republicans could win a redrawn senate seat. And, with the right candidate, we certainly could!
The big question becomes: who can we get to run? In a post-Prop 14 world, it would have to be a candidate who not only can run-up the vote totals of a coalition of center-right voters, but conservative-moderate independent and Democratic voters as well. It would also depend on whether that candidate can be either the top, or second-placed candidate going into a November run-off.
The GOP bench isn’t that bad, all things considered, but the big problem in finding the right candidate in a district that covers most of the City of San Diego is, of course, an opening for the City of San Diego’s top spot: Mayor.
City Council President-Pro-Tem Kevin Faulconer would be a great match for this Senate district. As a conservative on fiscal issues, he has been able to win in a city council district that is about as Democratic-leaning as the Senate district. Granted, the Senate is a partisan seat, but Faulconer’s record on the city council could certainly speak for itself and he’d be able to win over scores of independent voters.
However, I fear name ID could be an issue. I’m sure he’s well-known throughout his council district of 160,000, but would Faulconer be able to do well in the other 80 percent of the district that has precincts outside of his district? Since he’s also considering the Mayor’s race, would he want to even go to the State Senate?
Another great candidate would be former Assemblyman George Plescia. Also a conservative on fiscal issues, he represented the 75th Assembly District prior to Nathan Fletcher (more on him, in a few). The 75th AD covers the northern areas of the current 39th SD and, depending upon redistricting, that will likely continue. The problem I see for Mr. Plescia is that he’s been out of elected office for nearly four years, and serves as a former Governor Schwarzenegger appointee to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. As one of those highly-desirable board posts that pay over $100,000 in salary, it could be a political liability for him.
Since we are talking about the 75th AD, why not current Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher? He’s a conservative on fiscal issues as well, a proven coalition builder, and could present himself as the “San Diego Senator who wants to protect San Diego families,” given his signature legislation with Chelsea’s Law. Considering that fellow candidate Lori Saldana DID NOT vote for Chelsea’s Law, I would LOVE to see TV ads on that! Given Assemblyman Fletcher’s working-class roots, he would be able garner scores of middle-income, independent, and moderate Democrat voters. The appeal for Nathan in a race like this could be huge! However, what I just mentioned applies to the Mayor’s race as well, which is why he’s considering it.
Want to give the state unions a heart-attack? Why not a Senator Carl DeMaio? He’s very conservative on fiscal issues, right on pension reform, and has a large following throughout the city. However, he lives in Rancho Bernardo, which is outside the district, and not likely to be drawn into it during redistricting. Plus, since his ego is the size of San Diego, he wants to be Mayor.
Why not our popular City Attorney Jan Goldsmith? He’s proven to be able to win citywide. Plus, as the former Mayor of Poway, and a former member of the Assembly, Goldsmith would certainly be the most experienced candidate we could have running. However, all that experience fits into why he’s been such a successful City Attorney.
Moving south to the assumed open seat in the 78th, let’s go over some potential candidates for this one.
The Democrats certainly have a bench for this, and previous two-time candidate Arlie Ricasa may decide to go for it again. Marty Block named her “Woman of the Year” (for what? I don’t know…), however, given her recent troubles with the Sweetwater Union high School District and her non-profit, any candidate with the resources to run against her could easily paint her as a government official who has run amok on the taxpayer’s dime.
Another Democratic candidate to watch in this district could be former Chula Vista Mayor Tim Nader. He was recently elected to the Southwestern Community College Board and given his name ID and fundraising ability he’d make a formidable candidate. As well as former-Republican-now-Democrat Steve Castaneda who would be termed out of the Chula Vista City Council next year. Also, current San Diego City Council President Tony Young is likely to throw his hat into the ring for Assembly.
As for Republicans? It’s hard to tell given that no one is sure where the district lines are going to be drawn, but it will likely be a southeastern San Diego, Chula Vista-based Assembly seat.
The bench for Republicans includes Mayor Cheryl Cox, City Attorney Glen Googins, Sweetwater Union High School District’s John McCann, and Otay Water Board’s David Gonzalez. I had written about David Gonzalez in a previous post, however, with any of these candidates it’s about approaching them and getting them to run. Cox and McCann are not likely to run, however Googins and Gonzalez would be great candidates.