Team Fletcher: “Just Win, Baby!”

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 35 Comments


Politics & Media Mashup will return next week. This week, it’s all Nathan Fletcher all the time. 

Nathan Fletcher left the Republican Party because there’s nothing he wants more than to be San Diego’s next mayor.

Yes, to me it’s that simple.

Fletcher said this week he was leaving the party – with less than three months before the June primary – because Republicans and Democrats left him disillusioned.

I believe he would still be a Republican if the party had not endorsed Carl DeMaio, one of Fletcher’s opponents, a few weeks ago.

Team Fletcher thought it had the votes lined up to block the Republican Party endorsement, but DeMaio received the two-thirds needed for the nomination. Party insiders say DeMaio outhustled Fletcher. In the months leading up to the vote, DeMaio personally met with or contacted most of the 50-plus voting members multiple times. It also didn’t hurt that DeMaio has always been viewed as more conservative than the moderate Fletcher.

Fletcher obviously can’t tell San Diegans he dumped the Republican Party because he felt it was his best shot at winning the mayor’s race. “Just win, baby,” may be the message inside campaign headquarters but externally it’s: “You-deserve-better-than-politics-as-usual.” It’s clean and sounds good, and resonates with voters who share his disillusionment. Fletcher also has a voting record that shows this isn’t his first split with the party.

Despite running an aggressive campaign and raising a ton of money, half the city still doesn’t know Fletcher. He needed to change that. But what makes his decision to leave the GOP so fascinating is the huge risk he took for a shot at becoming mayor.

If the early returns are any indication, dumping the party is helping the state assemblyman shore up his most glaring weakness.

Since his announcement this week, Fletcher has dominated the news cycle here and elsewhere. David Brooks from The New York Times weighed in along with reporters from across California. It’s the type of coverage normally reserved for DeMaio, a media magnet who fired off a tweet to Brooks that suggested he’s not comfortable sharing the spotlight.

Fletcher is deserving of the attention. He went all in. He risked his political future. That has to count for something no matter the motive.

Fletcher recently touted an internal poll from another candidate that showed him gaining ground, but we have yet to see polling results from Fletcher’s campaign, which likely will have him as a long shot.

Instead of sitting back and playing out his hand, Fletcher moved everything he has into the center of table. “Just win, baby!”

If Fletcher pulls it off he’s brilliant. If he doesn’t, what’s next? He certainly can’t go back to the Republican Party.

Independents are a growing group and it’s no secret Republicans are struggling in California, but we’re years away from seeing independents winning statewide and national races.

As a Republican, Fletcher was viewed by some as the best prospect on a thin statewide bench. His course was mapped out. Yet as an independent who may lose the mayor’s race, his political future is anything but clear.


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Tony Manolatos is a communications strategist. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedInYou can hear Tony talk politics and media with KOGO’s LaDona Harvey every Friday at 2:35 p.m. on AM 600 and FM 95.7.



Comments 35

  1. So “there’s nothing he (Fletcher) wants more than to be San Diego’s next mayor? I am guessing that the health and well being of his family is probably something he wants more, but if you are referring only to Fletcher’s political desires, you are probably correct. So what? I am sure that Demaio also wants nothing more than to be San Diego’s next mayor. Would you really want a Mayor who didn’t much care whether or not he got the job?

  2. Regarding the amazing David Brooks “Ode to Fletcher” article in the NY TIMES:

    Here’s a comment I made on the NY TIMES website (several times — in various forms), but it never appeared. Note that the paper does screen comments.

    Judge for yourself if this comment is somehow offensive — and offensive to whom.


    It’s sad that the NY TIMES chooses David Brooks as the voice of the “reasonable” GOP. But not surprising, I suppose.

    In this piece, Brooks writes about a San Diego political contest that he knows nothing about. But his factual ignorance doesn’t keep him from making grandiose judgments in the race.

    Brooks claims that Nathan Fletcher is all about pension reform. He is not. He was afraid to back the groundbreaking GOP pension reform measure, waiting until a week before it was qualified for the ballot before putting forward a token effort in support. Carl DeMaio and the GOP did the heavy lifting.

    If you want to know Fletcher’s position on city pension reform, ask the local labor unions. They like Fletcher, though most of the unions will support rabid Democrat Bob Filner. But the police officers’ union has already come out in favor of Fletcher.–132198723.html

    Then Brooks labels GOP competitor and front-runner Carl DeMaio an “orthodox conservative.” I guess that’s similar to being an Orthodox Jew, or Greek Orthodox — a stereotyped extreme social conservative.

    But DeMaio is gay, and openly considers himself “partnered” to his lover Jonathon. DeMaio’s views on social issues range from moderate to occasionally libertarian. It’s on fiscal issues that DeMaio is “conservative” — he’s a bulldog representing the taxpayers.

    “Orthodox conservative”? In what parallel universe?

    Apparently the only source Brooks used in this ode to Nathan Fletcher was — Nathan Fletcher. This is blatant propaganda — even by Brooks’ abysmally low standards.

  3. Post

    I didn’t suggest it was a bad thing, Alger. I don’t think it is. A lot of folks have suggested he left the party for this reason or that reason. As I said in the post, I think he left bc he and his team figured it would give him his best chance at winning and that’s what he really wants.

  4. Post
  5. Interesting column by Virginia Postrel on Fletcher/DeMaio:

    I knew Carl DeMaio slightly when he was barely out of college and working for the Reason Public Policy Institute. RPPI was a very wonky place and he didn’t seem like a scary guy, but maybe he’s taken on some unsavory positions. I don’t know, and you won’t know either if you rely on Brooks or Bradley to tell you. They aren’t interested in the actual candidate’s policies, only in using DeMaio as a symbol of evil right-wing crazies . . . Before he turned hero of the moderates, Fletcher was trying to out-conservative DeMaio by, among other things, gay-baiting.

  6. Bradley,

    Also from the same column:

    “My friend Cosmo Wenman, who lives in the San Diego metro area, points out that Carl DeMaio is San Diego’s first openly gay city councilman, a fact that probably didn’t turn up in the 10 minutes David Brooks spent researching his column…”

    Sorry, but any column that claims DeMaio is San Diego’s first openly gay councilman is simply not credible.

  7. Alger,
    I already submitted a comment to that effect to the author. And that error doesn’t affect the substance of the argument, including Fletcher’s gay-baiting.

  8. I think there is a huge disconnect between what the political class thinks and what the general population thinks. The political class seem to think Fletcher’s move is “brilliant” or at least a “game charger”. The political class seems to think the ‘ends justify the means’ attitude is admirable. You see them running around town saying “Fletcher got an 8% bump” or “Fletcher got donations from people in 30 states recently” as if this validates his actions. While the political class admires pure raw ambition but the general population doesn’t. Only the ambitious admired ambition.

  9. Bradley,

    Actually an obvious factual error like that does detract from the credibility of the remainder of the article, ESPECIALLY the part about Fletcher’s alleged gay-baiting. Or did I miss the part where the author documented that claim?

  10. PC vs. GP,

    I think the general population is tired of partisan gridlock, tired of politicians listening only to their party bosses and tired of elected officials who think members of the other party are enemies of the state. I think the general public is ready for someone who wants to take good ideas, where ever they come from, and move our society forward. I guess time will tell if I am right.

  11. Bradley,

    I clicked on both links and still can’t find anything to justify the “gay-baiting” statement.

  12. Alger,
    So you don’t have to click Postrel’s link, I’m providing the text below, from a Voice of San Diego article. It quotes Fletcher’s post in Rostra, under the heading “Family values”:

    “… I know from conversations with many of you that Carl Demaio tells you he will never advocate or push social issues related to sexual orientation. However, this doesn’t square with the statements and commitments he makes in other communities.”

    There’s Fletcher alluding to DeMaio’s sexuality to score a point against him with “family values” conservatives. Fletcher gave no evidence. He didn’t even specify what were the “statements and commitments” DeMaio supposedly made. This is being honest and direct?

    This episode happened only weeks ago, on this very blog, and some already seem to be forgetting it. Silly pontificators like Brooks won’t even discuss it, because it contradicts their neat little tale of a nice moderate being driven out of the GOP by those mean bigoted conservatives. If the conservatives were truly that bigoted, they wouldn’t have endorsed DeMaio. But that irony is beyond the ken of MSM storytellers.

  13. Bradley,

    I did read that and I still don’t see that as anything other than contending that DeMaio will say different things to different groups. Fletcher has been very consistent in his support of equal rights for the gay community. His endorsement by the Log Cabin Republicans should be proof enough of that.

  14. Post

    PC vs. GP,

    I haven’t heard anyone say it was brilliant. As I said in my post, it’s risky. He mortgaged his future for a shot at the runoff.

    Most people have very little time for, and interest in, local politics. So Fletcher is betting this raises his awareness with voters and positions him as that guy who bucked the system.

    Others will see him as an opportunist not worthy of their vote.

    I’m sure he evaluated the risks and rewards before deciding this was the way he was headed.

    One thing is certain — the race is a lot more interesting now.

  15. I’d like to know how that quote constitutes gay baiting. Fletcher not only rc’d the Log Cabin Club endorsement, over both Dumanis and DeMaio, only to lose it only due to no longer being a Republican, but as a Republican legislator, his voting record was as about pro-gay rights as you’ll find.

  16. Alger,
    Does it bother you at all that Fletcher didn’t provide any evidence of what DeMaio supposedly did? That without evidence, this is just unsubstantiated innuendo?

    Fletcher wrote a section of his blog post addressed to “family values” voters slamming DeMaio because of his purportedly secret commitments on gay issues. This was not some general laundry list of contradictions, it was specifically aimed at a group generally hostile to gay rights. The implication was that DeMaio is a closet radical on gay issues.

    But because Fletcher votes for gay-friendly legislation, he’s given a pass on gay-baiting. This is similar to the double standard applied to politicians that support women’s issues but are misogynistic in their personal life. I’m sure you can think of a few of those.

  17. Bradley,

    Do you have a link to the Fletcher blog post you mention?

    As to your first question, it bothers me when anyone makes unsubstantiated claims. I assume it bothers you as well and that following the Republican Presidential primaries have left you in such a state that you will not be able to vote for any of the candidates.

  18. T.A.,

    If that is the post, I fail to see any gay baiting. In fact, he made clear his view that the government should not legislate morality. I don’t know what DeMaio said to the central committee members, but I have never heard him say anything one way or the other about whether he believes in equal rights for the GLBT community.

  19. Alger,
    I’ve got to get you trained to follow the links 🙂

    The link to the Rostra post was provided in the VOSD article. Here it is

    I’m excerpting Fletcher’s pitch to the “family values” types. I’ve boldfaced the section VOSD boldfaced. :

    2. Family values: Family values are very important to me. As a married father of two, I take very seriously my commitment to my wife and children. As a Christian of strong faith, I take seriously my commitment to God. However, I do not believe it is the role of government to legislate religion and impose our moral values. That is the role of the institutions of family and faith. We have looked to government for too much intervention in people’s individual freedoms and personal lives. Please know and appreciate that I am consistent in this position—regardless of what community I am speaking to and how it might affect a scorecard. I know from conversations with many of you that Carl Demaio tells you he will never advocate or push social issues related to sexual orientation. However, this doesn’t square with the statements and commitments he makes in other communities. Like or dislike my positions, I have always been upfront, honest, and straightforward.

    Gee, what were those unnamed “statements and commitments”? And which unnamed communities could Mr. Upfront, Honest and Straightforward possibly be referring to?

    As far as the Republican presidential candidates go, nearly all of them have been promiscuous with unsubstantiated or false claims. I am sorely disappointed with Romney and Santorum (who finally lost me with his statement about cracking down on pornography).

    I may well vote Libertarian this time, especially if Gary Johnson is the party’s nominee. He is truly better qualified to be president IMO than the major party candidates – not flaky like Libertarian candidates can be. Since California is going to go for Obama, I’d like to see a strong vote on principle for a Libertarian, instead of a Republican we can’t believe in and who isn’t going to carry the state anyway.

  20. Bradley,

    I can follow links just fine, but thanks for the offer. One should never pass up an opportunity for a free education.

    I think our discussion has run it’s course, but I will repeat one more time that I see no gay-baiting in Fletcher’s comment. You are almost certainly correct that he was insinuating that DeMaio tells the party insiders one thing and the GLBT community something else. What I don’t see is how that makes Fletcher anti-gay or doesn’t simply fit in with his whole theme that he is consistent regardless of who he is speaking to, while DeMaio will say and do whatever it takes to get your support, no matter (with the exception of union leaders) who you are.

  21. Alger,
    Context is critical. Fletcher is explicitly addressing “family values” voters. He starts by informing them that he’s a Christian and married, with two children. He talks about how he doesn’t want to enforce religious morality. Then he insinuates that DeMaio has made commitments to gay issues that he hadn’t disclosed.

    Fletcher is suggesting to those voters that DeMaio has a secret gay agenda. while Fletcher, a heterosexual Christan, is “upfront, honest, and straightforward.”

    And let’s also not forget that Fletcher made his insinuation totally without evidence.

    If you don’t think that’s gay-baiting, you’re right, we shall have to agree to disagree. I’d just ask you to remember that using gay-baiting doesn’t mean a politician is personally anti-gay. It just means he’ll do anything to win.

    Of course, Fletcher is now singing a different tune as an independent than he sang to the “family values” types in the GOP. My, that’s a lot like what Fletcher is accusing DeMaio of doing.

    Now I have to turn to simpler matters, such as stem cell research and water agency politics. Good night!

  22. Bradley,

    A closing thought or two (I promise):

    The average “family values” voter is not going to support a candidate who says “I don’t want to enforce religious morality.” Think how that line would have played in the South Carolina Primary. He clearly was not pandering to the crowd.

    Read the line after the bolded section and you will understand his point. He is the one who will tell you his position on the issues whether you agree with him or not; his opponent will change based on the audience. In this instance, the issue may have been gay rights, but his point transcended this issue.

    And yes, before you ask again, it does bother me that he didn’t give a specific example to back up this claim. Maybe someone should have asked him. After all, he ended his post with “Feel free to respond directly to me or call me any time if you have a question.”

  23. switching parties was the best thing that Fletcher could have done for his campaign since DeMaio got the nod from the S.D. Republican party.
    That being said, DeMaio is our best choice for Mayor.
    Now back to Fletcher. I had 2 encounters with him in Feb and after last week’s debate.
    in Feb after Rino State Sen Joel Anderson cancelled his sponsorship of my bill – Balance of Powers Act – a method by which the state legislature could nullify any past and present unconstitutional federal laws, mandates, etc.
    I took it to Fletcher . He said he would look it over and contact me. After the debate –
    I reminded him of the oath he took to honor and defend the constitution. a lot of people are concerned about our v. powerful centralized federal govt and this Bill was vital to stopping them.
    Since I had not heard from him, I assumed he roundfiled it.
    He had looked over the bill and declared it unconstitutional. What? He said any problems with DC, we have to deal with DC. So much for solving our federal problems locally.
    kind of like Mayor Sanders going to DC asking for their help We do not need a mayor doing that. I do not want him as our mayor. Hopefully, enough people will agree with me and vote for DeMaio.
    Your bill? There is no bill until a legislator introduces one. Do you mean to say that you are recommending some legislation to those that could decide to author a bill? Or, is there a bill number, because a legislator has authored it already? – Admin

  24. It will not be sufficient for Fletcher to spend a lot of money, especially that which he collected from gullible Local Republicans before he gave them the shaft. The Christians whom he snuggled up to while telling them I am just like you and share your values are going to do a double take with him snuggling up to the homosexuals and saying I’m not like you but I share your values. His bolting the Republican Party was not because he had a revelation but because he had a calculation. He simply calculated that his best chance to win was to go neutral.

    He has one big problem. He does not drive the issues. DeMaio does. DeMaio is not neutral.

  25. reply to ADMIN –
    You are right. There is no actual bill in the State Legislature. it was a piece of legislation that I wanted a state senator or assemblyperson to sponsor. Joel was local and I was told he was one of the most conservative senators and a go-to guy.
    Once he reneged on sponsoring it – I went to Fletcher. no luck there. A person at the republican meeting said that it was probably too controversial for Fletcher to sponsor.
    I said – right – the act would stop our runaway federal govt and restore our state sovereignty and that is controversial?

  26. So, someone thinks they have a simplistic solution to a complex problem, and thinks they know better than others if it will do what they say, while being a legal avenue to control the feds (unlikely). That’s not getting into whether such legislation would even stand a chance in the liberal dominated legislature, which it won’t. But, because a guy like Joel Anderson won’t carry it for whatever reason, he’s a sell out, and Nathan Fletcher won’t, so he’s scared. Maybe the problem is with the author of the “bill.”

  27. “Maybe the problem is with the author of the “bill.””

    ..or maybe it’s just as Lee says it is; our representatives don’t want to rock the boat and appear to be invoking the constitutional ideals of federalism…because it will upset the lobbyists.

    DISCLOSURE: Lee and I are both candidates for the SDGOP Central Committee and endorsed by the San Diego Tea Party.

    You may continue to laugh at those “simple” grassroots activists now.

  28. reply to: Alger –
    #1 – I am not the author. The author is a constitutional lawyer who loves America, unlike our President .
    #2 – the Balance of Powers Act (8 pages) once passed, is a method by which the state legislature could nullify any past and present unconstitutional federal laws, mandates and regulations.

    (I can totally understand why Anderson, Fletcher and Jones, would not sponsor this legislation)
    However, this very important legislation stops the overreaching federal govt. Once Obama slams the lid on our constitutional republic and ushers in global governance (I have read that it is set to occur before the November elections) , there is not much the states can do now , can they?
    Read the facts –

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