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Nathan’s Incredibly Bad Move

If Nathan had made the announcement about his party switch six-months ago it could have been construed as a statement of principle, but because he made the move six-weeks before the election it looks like an act of desperation by a candidate who is stuck in fourth place. Of course, that’s exactly where he is in the latest polling.

But Nathan’s big mistake is in his making the race partisan, which it wasn’t before — and that only helps Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner, both of whom carry official party endorsements. Voter intensity in a primary is driven by partisans and Republican turnout will be disproportionately higher in June because of the presidential ballot. If Nathan is going to rely on Decline to State (DTS) voters to carry him to November he’s whistling past the graveyard (see Tom Campbell).

Then there is the more pragmatic question of what does Nathan do if he somehow magically leaps over Bonnie Dumanis and DeMaio and ends up in a runoff with Filner? Nathan has likely foreclosed on any opportunity that he may have of getting local party help in the fall, because he is, well, not a Republican anymore. Party endorsements are important because in San Diego they expand a candidate’s ability to coordinate their voter contact program.

This move will be regarded as a $500,000 mistake if Nathan makes it to the general. Though Nathan may be counting on help from his newly formed Super PAC “San Diegans for Nathan Fletcher” instead — the very type of vehicle Nathan specifically decries with his support of the California DISCLOSE Act. The PAC has already raised $261,000 from just 18 donors. That fact will likely not go over well with any voters, especially DTSs. Heck, at least political parties are broad based, accountable and publicly elected, not cooked up in a conference room somewhere.

With regard to Nathan’s references to Wisconsin in the video, I find it interesting that he would say he doesn’t want San Diego to become another Wisconsin as if that is the best bellwether of dysfunctional government. In the case of the Badger State, since Scott Walker became governor its budget has gone from a $3 billion deficit to a $300 million surplus which was achieved without the new taxes advocated by the public employee unions. Walker and his legislative allies scaled back business regulation and passed a tort reform measure.

The Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce in a survey of business owners found that 94 percent  say the state is on the right track where only 10 percent came to that conclusion during the previous administration. The state lost a total of 150,000 jobs over that past three year but added 10,000 new jobs in Walker’s first year. Finally, Chief Executive Magazine found that Wisconsin’s business climate enjoyed the greatest one-year improvement of any state in the history of the magazine’s ratings.

Please don’t throw me into that briar patch; heck, I’ll leap there.

But back to sunny San Diego and the question, why was Nathan unsuccessful in gaining the local GOP endorsement? Nathan does have a problem and it’s called his voting record. He has made a series of bad budget votes and, at the behest of Governor Brown and Assembly Speaker John Perez, was the co-author of a $1 billion tax increase on business that was introduced on the last day of the 2011 legislative session. The tax increase was mercifully killed by pro-business Democratic members of the State Senate.

Sure Nathan is more moderate to liberal on social and environmental issues than most Republicans but those views place him in the mainstream with many San Diego voters and something many party activists will look the other way on as long as you’re a reliable fiscal conservative (see Carl DeMaio). It’s quite interesting that apparently the local elected body of the Republican central committee figured this out — and basically called Nathan’s bluff.

And I guess that’s what it comes down to, and to paraphrase from the musical Guys and Dolls, well he just ain’t old “reliable Nathan”.

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