Team Fletcher: “Just Win, Baby!”

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos


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.