SD GOP’s Dilemma: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maienschein?

Jon Fleischman Jon Fleischman 12 Comments

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Cross posted at FlashReport…

Over the past week I have gotten a couple of phone calls and a few e-mails from elected members of the San Diego Republican Party Central Committee.  While none have been identical, the subject matter of the calls has been the same – the candidacy of former San Diego City Councilman Brian Maienschein for the State Assembly.

The context is this – Maienschein, a Republican, is running for what is, in essence, the Assembly seat currently held by Nathan Fletcher.  Tomorrow the San Diego GOP is considering potential party endorsements in many legislative races, including this seat, at a special meeting.  Maienschein has a Republican opponent, Dustin Steiner, who works for Supervisor Bill Horn.  Apparently Maienschien is a controversial candidate because, while on the San Diego City Council, he voted for a lot of the public employee pension boosts that have led that city to being ground-zero for pension reform.

Brian Maienschien’s past votes for generous public employee benefits are controversial within the GOP…

While I counseled those people who contacted me privately, I thought that I might address this issue publicly as well.  I don’t know Maienschein personally.  I have met him a few times over the years, and said hello to him at last weekend’s big Republican dinner at the Rancho Bernardo Inn.  He seems like a very nice, personable fellow.  That said, there is no doubt that he placed a complicit if not central role in burying San Diego in public pension liability hole so deep that even the pension reform ballot measure on the ballot in June, while a great step, does not adequately address the problem.  My friend (and FlashReport blog contributor) Richard Rider, whom I hold in high regard, simply decimates Maienschein over on our local partner-blog, SD Rostra mainly over this pension issue.

I am told by some folks who know Maienschein that he is personally regretful, in hindsight, for his role in making San Diego into, what the (hardly conservative) New York Times called, “The Enron By The Sea.”

Not knowing Maienschien, nor having sat down with him personally, it’s hard to gauge the sincerity of his misgivings about past public policy decisions.  That having been said, I have always taken the position that the single best indicator of how someone will perform in elective office is his or her past performance (if they have served in public office before).  I should also pose the question (pardon this poor attempt at an analogy) but one also has to question the wisdom of putting even a recovering alcoholic into a seat at the bar.  The pressure from public employee unions on members of the state legislature is nothing short of staggering.

I suppose it is also appropriate to recall that in his previous race for City Attorney against Jan Goldsmith, San Diego GOP Chairman Tony Krvaric had to slap around Maienschien after he apparently put out campaign mail that implied a SD GOP endorsement that not only did he not have, but that had actually gone to Goldsmith.

Now, by all accounts, Maienschein is the prohibitive front-runner in the Assembly race, having amassed a big war chest and many endorsements.  And to his credit he has signed the ATR No New Taxes Pledge.  But supporting massive benefits increases for public employees would not have violated such a pledge.

Ultimately Maienschein will have to have a conversation with the voters about his qualifications, and they will decide whether to put him into the state legislature.  But the question right now is whether he should be endorsed by the San Diego GOP (and then potentially the California Republican Party) before the June election.

I can only say this.  If I were a member of the San Diego County GOP, I could not in good conscience in-essence reward the previous bad behavior of Maienschein with an endorsement from the party when there is still another Republican in the race, and there is zero chance that at least one of them will fail to make it to the November top-two runoff.  To depersonalize this just a tad, to give Maienschein a party endorsement this early would really send a message all around not only San Diego County, but around the state that the party is all talk when it comes to being tough on those who, for whatever reason, further the agenda of the public employee unions.

I guess I would close my expressing my admiration and appreciation for those on the San Diego County Central Committee.  No one pays you for your service, and in fact you all pay a price in terms of time spent on party matters that comes at the expense of time with family.  Good luck to you tomorrow as you weigh all of the decisions before you.

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Comments 12

  1. Tough, those who contributed to today’s problems get the boot. Time to purge the party of such opportunists. When the Democrats finally bankrupt the state, the GOP needs to present a credible alternative. Less of the same won’t be the order of the day, we will need to provide a true limited government vision.

  2. BDaddy – I think the party voted that today in an indirect way, had there been a strong candidate against Maienschein, you would have been able to stick a fork in it, it’s done. But now we will have a person that we is not consistent.

  3. I spoke strongly against Brian. He had 8 years on the city council, bankrupted the city, hurt a lot of people, but made a lot of city workers rich. He had his chance. Now it’s time for him to step aside. He needs to show that he is a man of humility and honesty and admit that he does not deserve any office.

  4. Dan,

    Quick quiz: which former President:

    1. Started his political career as a Democrat?

    2. Was President of the liberal Hollywood Union known as the Screen Actors Guild?

    3. As Governor, raised taxes numerous times?

    4. As President, signed the first “amnesty bill?”

    5. As President, ran up what was to date the biggest deficit in our history?

    6. As Prsident, withdrew our troops from a foreign country after they were attacked?

    The quest for perfection is noble, but it is also why the Republican Party is losing the registration war. It is also why the candidates you love the best (Steiner, Ellis, Sherman, Stahl) are those that have never held public office; they have no record for you to dissect and find fault with.

  5. * Ronald Reagan had been a Republican activist and fundraiser for 15 years before he ran for California Governor.

    * Reagan courageously testified before Congress, as SAG president, denouncing Stalinist bids to make US films toe the Party line. He assured lawmakers Hollywood would take care of the issue itself.

    * Reagan backed the Jarvis-Gann Prop. 13 tax cutting measure, and made Federal tax cuts his 1st priority as President.

    * Reagan crafted the strategy which undermined and toppled the 74-year-long Soviet dictatorship.

    It is pretty shameful to rewrite the history of an American hero who passed away 7 years ago. I don’t visualize Horatio Alger doing that.

  6. Jim,

    Everything I said was factual, but I certainly meant no disrespect to Reagan. Quite the contrary, because even as a Democrat, I agree that much of what he did as President qualifies him to be classified among the greats. In fact, you make my point because had we had the ridiculous litmus tests that the Republican Party and its activists have now, we never would have had a President Reagan.

  7. Alger: Noble? No, I would settle for “didn’t screw things up too badly”. But Brian is a train wreck….seriously. Every time you look at a pothole on the street that hasn’t been filled for a year, think of Brian. As a Director of Sales in the high tech industry for 20 years, I have a litmus test of “what did the person do and what were the results”. We private sector people think that way to judge whether a person is competent or not. Brian fails miserably. The new ones don’t have much of a record. So what? Let the new blood, Steiner, Ellis, Sherman, and Stahl fight in the arena of ideas to get elected. Lori Zapf didn’t do too bad in the last election.

  8. Dan,

    Thanks for completely missing my point.

    And by the way there are quite a few people who lost their homes in Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo who think Mr. Maienschein did quite a bit of good.

  9. Alger: While It is rose-colored glasses noble of you to defend Brian, his efforts on behalf of the homeowners in Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo are far out weighed by bankrupting the entire City of San Diego. Go find a winning cause. Brian is done.

  10. Brian Maienschein is like a failed football coach who keeps getting recycled in the system. Dustin Steiner will bring fiscal sanity, family values, intelligence and vision that is sorely lacking in Sacramento. I worked side-by-side with Dustin for several years when I was on staff with Supervisor Horn.
    Maienschein was a failure in the big things when he was on the city council and non-responsive on the little things that mean so much to constituents.
    Dustin Steiner will serve the people with honor and give them no voter remorse as will be the case with Maienschein.

  11. John:

    Brian may have some baggage, but to compare him to Norv Turner?! Come on, that’s very insulting. To Norv Turner.

  12. Apologies to Norv. At least he knows his x’s and o’s from a hole in the ground. All Maienschein is interested in is getting x’s at the ballot box.

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