Why I’m Leaving the Republican Party

Nathan Fletcher Nathan Fletcher 51 Comments


Today, I’m announcing my decision to leave the Republican Party and re-register as an independent. This is a decision I’ve struggled with for some time, and I wanted you to hear the reasoning directly from me. Please click on the video below.



Comments 51

  1. This is likely a politically smart (if desperate) move by Nathan Fletcher — at least in this race for mayor (not so much long term, perhaps). I’m sure he’s done the polling. This is a coldly-calculated shift.

    The irony is that, just three weeks ago, Fletcher spoke to the San Diego County GOP, extolling the virtues of the GOP — while seeking the GOP endorsement for San Diego Mayor. Carl DeMaio won that endorsement with 71% of the vote.

    Sore loser? Could it be??

    Fletcher’s union allies (and yes, he DOES have public employee labor union support) are delighted, of course — now they can pour money into his campaign with a clear conscience — assuming they have a collective conscience.

    This move to “independent” for political gain is growing. I THINK Fletcher is too late and too far behind to make the mayoral runoff, but we shall see in June.

    Funding will not be a problem. He’s already tapped out his many GOP supporters (primarily downtown development subsidy-seekers) — now he will get an influx of labor money through IE campaigns.

    Hopefully the local GOP is now breathing a sigh of relief that it didn’t withhold a DeMaio endorsement for mayor.

    Thanks for “coming out,” Nathan. However belatedly.

  2. Assemblyman Fletcher was begging and pleading for the GOP mayoral endorsement just 18 days ago.
    If this is a decision he’s been “struggling with for some time,” curious that it comes shortly after he lost his chance at the GOP endorsement .

  3. The inevitable result of making endorsements between Republicans is an erosion of the broad based support that a Party organization needs to consistently win elections year-after-year.

    This principle holds true across all races. But it is worth noting that since the mistake happened in such a high profile race this time, that the damage to the party in losing such a high profile member (and his supporters) is very substantial.

  4. If he were sincere about moving beyond partisan politics, he wouldn’t have worked so hard for the local endorsement or to block it from going to another. He’s just throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get what he wanted.

    He basically took his ball and went home with a sour-puss face on.

    The funny thing is that he is the establishment Republican guy statewide. This has to hurt him long term, especially if he loses the Mayor’s race.

    Dumanis is playing this right.

  5. D. Morton, I agree accept for that pesky Prop. 14. I wonder how the electeds that have endorsed him feel about this move…

  6. somebody’s mojo ran out.

    but those of us who were pointing out his problems all along feel vindicated. he’s not a even a rino, he’s worse.

  7. Timing. Timing. Timing.

    I wonder what finally motivated Mr. Fletcher to jump ship? Couldn’t have anything to do with the latest polling numbers showing that a DeMaio/Filner November is all but inevitable.

    Mr. Fletcher’s switcharoo is an all-or-nothing Hail Mary stunt designed to keep him in the game. Nothing more.

    Anyone who buys into this “I searched my soul” nonsense is wet behind the ears. Being on the losing end of the primary math induces soul-searching, none of it genuine and all of it calcuated.

    Lest we not forget how much Tom Shepard likes to lose. Lest we not forget the large-scale political ambitions of Mr. Fletcher and his wife.

    This is about as authentic as the hair on the top of Jan Goldsmith’s head.

  8. “This is a decision I’ve struggled with for some time”

    Why would you seek an endorsement, from the county GOP organization, if you’ve been struggling with this issue for some time, Mr. Fletcher?

    Representing to people, who intended to donate time and money to you, based upon your commitment to a platform of ideas, while silently deliberating whether or not those ideas were congruent with your internal philosophy is misrepresentation at worst or phony politics at best. Certainly people are free to change their minds but can you see how disingenuous your bid for the SDGOP endorsement was?

    I admire you a great deal, Sir for your commitment and service to our nation. I admire you for your passion to serve our community as Mayor. I am disappointed however, that you told my representatives, who carefully use my money, (which I freely donate to support candidates like you), that you subscribe to the same set of principles which I do. That was never true and you said as much in the beginning of your video. That was the dishonest gesture of a politician and, despite my disappointment, I know you’re better than that, Sir.

    You also said we “aren’t enemies” and I assure you that I agree with that statement. We disagree on the role of government in people’s lives and, as you said in the video, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

    My best wishes to you Mr. Fletcher. I’m sure our paths will cross again and we may want to “do business” together. We can do that but, in the future, I hope you’ll respect me enough to look me in the eye and say “we disagree on some issues but I’d like your support on a the ones on which we do agree”.

  9. Fletcher contributed thousands of dollars towards the San Diego GOP the very month he decided to leave it. It’s disappointing to see him leave, as he’s a promising candidate for future races. Dumanis and DeMaio have always been better positioned for mayor than him. It would have been better for Fletcher and taxpayers, to sit this race out, perhaps look at the 39th CA Senate seat, or maybe even US Senate, or wait 2 more years for something else (Governor??). Fletcher’s never endured a political loss before, and as what appears to be the inevitable closes in this June, I hope he keeps his head up and not burn too many bridges for his long term career.

  10. The snipe at Councilman DeMaio about wanting to make San Diego like Wisconsin is, as we’ve seen before from Fletcher, misleading and twisting his words. When Carl says he wants to be like Wisconsin, he’s obviously talking about the major reform they’ve conducted which is has generated huge savings to taxpayers and has weakened the unions’ political grip. To infer Carl wants riots like Wisconsin is as ridiculous as stating that DeMaio wants San Diego to have frigid winters like Wisconsin.

  11. As a flaming liberal, I would say this is a brilliant move on Fletcher’s part, although I disagree with him on the part where he talked about the Democratic Candidate, I agree that Carl is playing a dangerous game. I would prefer Fletcher over DeMaio, but Bob has the best ideas. You should have endorsed Fletcher.

  12. Ha-Ha! Why didn’t folks see this coming the minute DeMaio got the endorsement? Fletcher has always been for Fletcher. He has at this point only moved from the position of Wannabe Democrat to Don’t Wannabe Republican. Any Republican Fletcher donor got the gumption to say, “Give me my money back?” The easily beguiled and his money will soon be parted.

  13. From the Rep Party…

    “Running dead last and panicked, partisan Republican tries to reinvent himself
    About as credible as Rick Santorum running as a Green party candidate” 
    CONTACT: BARRETT TETLOW(714) 614-4455

    SAN DIEGO — This afternoon San Diego Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric issued the following statement in response to the decision by Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to reinvent himself as an “independent:”  
    -“It’s never pretty to watch a panicking politician, but that’s what we saw with Nathan Fletcher today.”
    Nathan Fletcher has a long track record as a conservative, partisan Republican.  He worked as the Political Director of the California Republican Party, and later as the District Director for disgraced former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham.  He is pro-life, and was a loyal soldier for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the legislature.  He was a prominent supporter of Meg Whitman against Jerry Brown in 2010.  His mayoral campaign is endorsed by Karl Rove.
    -“Now, running dead last for San Diego Mayor, and after having raised as much Republican money as he can, Fletcher is trying to hide from his conservatism and partisan Republican record to reinvent himself as something else.”
    -“Nathan Fletcher running for office as an independent is about as credible as Rick Santorum trying to run as a Green Party candidate.”

  14. Well it is nice we are not talking about hoodies today……

    I do have to say I don’t really get this. I guess it gets him a “news hit” for a day, maybe 2. Maybe it helps with the TV (‘I am the only independent in the race”) but……

    A) Most San Diegans are blissfully not even aware there is a Mayor’s race yet. This is just a blip on their radar screens.

    B) Nathan’s challenge remains NAME ID. Was that yesterday, is that today, will be that tomorrow. Ins’t fair. Stinks. Sorta sad about our level of civic engagement but most people don’t have a CLUE who he is, what he has done and what the heck the legislature does (except they don’t like em)

    C) But the problem for Nathan is that this just enabled all three opponents a tailored made, easy to understand, simple and almost impossible to screw up story with the media – HE SWITCHED PARTIES LESS THAN THREE MONTHS PRIOR TO THE ELECTION!!???!!!

    Now “C” is irrelevant UNLESS AND UNTIL Nathan starts to get traction with the 700+ he has banked. But I BOGGLES THE MIND that Carl won’t be doing tracking polls. Bonnie probably will be too if she can cobble together the cash and Terrance group is willing to cut a deal.. THE MINUTE Fletcher starts to pick up steam expect….

    TV ANNOUNCER “Can you really trust a person willing to switch his stripes just to win election…. Yada Yada Yada.”

    Candidates all too often make the mistake of thinking that THEIR message is the only one voters hear. They believe it is a “monologue”. It probably sounded good when it rolled of the tongue “Nathan – he is an independent and will always put city and country before self and party.” Probably true. He is a good guy.

    But politics isn’t monologue. It is dialogue. And switching Party Registration at the end of March before a June primary just seems very shortsighted and pretty dumb.

    Fair disclosure (we all should do this) Endorsed and donated to carl.

  15. I wonder if Filner’s lackluster commitment to the mayoral race has anything to do with the decision. Fletcher realized he could not overcome Demaio’s strength with the Republican party…maybe he now will position himself as the de facto Democrat.

    The sad thing is I like Nathan. I am undecided on the mayoral race, but with this decision I now know that I will not be voting for him. He claims his positions will not change. Unfortunately actions speak louder than words, and his abandonment of his party two mid-election is very disconcerting.

    If he loses the mayor’s race does he remain independent or does he re-register as a Republican? A Democrat? Does he become the new Peter Navarro?

    Will Mindy, who has fought hard for guys like George W. Bush, also leave the Party?

  16. Regardless of Fletcher’s real motivation for doing this, I applaud the decision. He is saying what is on the minds of many Republicans, including this one. I am sick and tired of the “party over policy” mentality that is ruining this state and this country. I know the Democrats are just as guilty, but the simple fact is the Republican Party is becoming more irrelevant by the day in this state and no one in the party hierarchy is showing an ounce of courage or leadership to stem the tide.

  17. This seems like the kind of situation the new CA Top-2 primary law was designed to encourage (even though in the mayoral election the non-partisan structure was already set well before that law passed): with the parties supporting more “extreme” candidates, an independent or moderate could run up the middle and make it into the runoff. Should be interesting to see if Fletcher can pull it off and, if so, what kind of signal that might send across the state.

    Personally, I doubt it’ll work unless a significant number of Dems decide to cast off Filner and go for Fletcher. Won’t exactly do wonders for Fletcher’s conservative rep. in that case though.

  18. That disgraceful release from the RPSD is just the latest in this mind-numbingly stupid sage that began with an endorsement that never should have been.

    1. When your opponent is self-destructing, stand back (seriously Barrett, WTF were you thinking).

    2. NF is a sitting assemblyman and per the party’s statement, is reliably a Republican on a dogmatic level. The loss of NF to the Republican Party is as much the latter’s loss as the former.

    3. Per above, by attacking a guy for leaving the party in the same statement where you also acknowledge (even tout) his conservative credentials, the RPSD loses credibility as an organization that stands for anything other than loyalty to itself.

    4. DC already considers the GOP in CA to be a joke…and the RPSD to be the saddest part of that joke. In a year when SD will actually have a federal race that is relevant in Nov for the first time in about a decade, that doesn’t help.

    5. Did Tetlow knock Santorum just for the heck of it. Classless and stupid. Santorum has already secured his place in the GOP for several years (a la Palin) – in the event that somebody actually reads this statement,that will only serve to further isolate the RPSD from the rest of the Republican movement nationally.

  19. So, so happy about his decision. I feel that he was forced to tow the party line even though he didn’t believe in everything the Repub party had to offer in order to be viable. Simply put, he’s a good man and personally knowing him, I think he is the best for the job.

  20. Kirk Effinger, I am also one of those Republicans that has contemplated leaving the party. The difference between Nathan Fletcher and people like you and me is that you and I are not in the midst of a political campaign. If Fletcher has been struggling with partisan politics for some time now, as he claims, he should have left the party before he launched his mayoral bid, not two months before election day.

  21. I keep singing a song in my head today:

    Nah Nah Nah, Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!
    Nah Nah Nah, Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!
    Nah Nah Nah, Nah Nah Nah, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!

  22. Let’s remember what a “moderate” position is — from a fiscal standpoint. It means modest (window-dressing) reforms for pensions. It means modest tax rate increases — probably annually or biannually.

    It calls for modest increases in laws governing everything you do — either as a business or individual. NEVER does moderate mean any REDUCTION in government (or even a plateauing of government) — either in cost or in function.

    You can keep your “moderate” model — I’m hanging tough for the limited government viewpoint.

  23. What a bizarre press release from the RPSDC. Why call him on his GOP credentials when he’s leaving you. It’s like having telling people your ex-girlfriend was good looking, very caring, a great cook, personable, funny, etc. ….. and then in the very next sentence say “I’m glad she left me.”

    Looks like we know who really has the sour grapes, Chairman Krvaric.

  24. I think this is the smartest move Fletcher has made. The last straw for me was when DeMaio got the endorsement. DeMaio has no interest in coming to negotiations with an open mind. He’s a series of soundbites and bad, twisted information. He intentionally distorts facts and outright lies to prevail.

    The GOP is so horrifically out of touch with real republicans. I had always figured on being a cradle to grave republican. But in the last few years the party has become so ridiculously polarized (as has the democratic party that there is no alternate but to move to be independent. The problem comes during a presidential primary – which this June is – forcing republicans to remain registered republicans and then jumping ship. Which I fully intend to do.

    Regardless on whether Fletcher tried to schmooze the idiots at the GOP or not – this was an intelligent move. My guess is it was the last straw for him trying to work with the central committee down here.

  25. This article is so poorly written. Did he just get his information from Nathan’s website? Do some homework David, there is much more to the story of Nathan Fletcher’s candidacy.

    How about mentioning that he has consistently been running in 4th place even though he has all of the big name GOP people endorsing him?

    How about mentioning that he was a gung ho “conservative” republican for the past four year (according to Nathan)?

    How about mentioning that his dead of night deal on down town development forced Jerry Brown’s hand? Brown got rid of ALL the state’s redevelopment offices. (Thanks Nathan).

    How about mentioning that he is the Union’s choice….besides Filner?

    How about mentioning that he was the only Republican assemblymember to vote to force gay history in our crumbling schools?

    How about mentioning that Nathan’s only true dedication is to himself? He would sell his grandma to get elected.

    Can anyone else help me out here?

    Plus, I don’t think being endorsed and being called a moderate by David Brooks is a good thing. I sure wouldn’t want his endorsement if I were a candidate.

  26. Brook’s article was incredibly poorly written. Brooks is a liberal who clearly didn’t do any research when writing about Fletcher. Come on David, do more than just look at his website.

    What Brooks doesn’t mention is telling.

    Nathan has been crowing for years about his “conservative” credentials. Now he is an independent? The fact is…is that Nathan is an empty suit who only stands for himself. Can you tell me otherwise? Don’t tell me he stands for getting things done. What the hell does that mean? Or working across the isle? Does Nathan understand that the Democrats in Sacramento have made us the most taxed, over regulated State in the country? So now you are going to work hand in hand with the democrats to do more of the same? Thanks for being a “uniter” Nathan, but no thank you.

    He is just so easy to take on. He likes to say that government shouldn’t be forcing things on the voters. Oh, like the bill that Nathan voted on to push gay history in our schools? Guess what Nathan, we don’t want a social agenda pushed on our kids. Our school’s curriculum should be about learning things so our kids can get ahead….not to make them feel good.

    What we all should look for in our politions are specifics. Nathan loves to use platitudes because he knows that if the voters know how liberal he is, they would never vote for him. “I want to make San Diego the nation’s most innovative city!” Seriously? That is a platform? It means nothing, but sounds good. Who doesn’t want San Diego to be that? Nathan is a genius!

    What about the biggest threat to our State…the public employee unions? Nathan won’t touch that subject with a ten foot pole because he agrees with them. Is that what we need in San Diego, another Union supporter? Has he looked at the San Diego pension mess?

    The shame in all this is that so many good people have been duped by Nathan’s “charm.” Many others, me included, see right through him for what he is…an extraordinarily arrogant libeal in an suit who is only out for himself.

  27. Whether the article was well-written or poorly-written is hardly the point. The important fact is that it was written and was written in a newspaper that has a national readership. Since there are a large percentage of people in this country fed-up with partisan gridlock (I hope I don’t have to cite polls to support that statement), it wouldn’t surprise me to see Fletcher start receiving donations from throughout the country.

    In my never humble opinion, I believe Fletcher’s move was political genius, and the fact that so many of DeMaio’s supporters here are spending time trying to bring down the guy who has “consistently been running in 4th place,” tells me that DeMaio believes it too.

  28. Alger, that’s ridiculous and you know. If someone wrote an article in an important newspaper claiming Barack Obama is not a citizen and should be impeached, I doubt you would think that was a good thing. That David Brooks article was garbage, and you only agree with it because it aligns with your viewpoint. To leave out the fact that Fletcher is 4th in almost all polling, campaigned let heck less than a month ago to receive the endorsement from the same RPSD he claims he is out of touch with, and that fact that he is the choice for the big money downtown interest is just flat out dishonest. Leave out important facts, even in an opinion column, is almost as bad as fabricating facts. David Brooks went from being the darling of a segment of conservative Republicans to there bete-noir. His mantra is to attack conservatives, like DeMaio and to prop up the great “moderate” politician.

    You are right that Nathan will probably rake in money nationwide, because he is getting great publicity from this, as is evident by the comments in articles nationwide. However, raising money has never been a problem for him. he doesn’t need money, he needs votes.

    Contrary to your views, the conservatives and Republicans on this sight are not part of some cabal associated with DeMaio, attempting to drag down Nathan Fletcher. Facts are facts. This is a non-partisan race. No Republican or Democrat labels on the ballot. Fletcher has in all polls been in 3rd or 4th place, well behind the 2nd place candidate. Facts, not propaganda.

  29. Marshall,

    I never said I agreed with the article. I actually said it didn’t matter whether the article was a good one or not. I only said that the article would help him.

    Fletcher has been polling in third or fourth, at least in part because he polls far behind in name ID. His decision to leave the Republican Party and the subsequent coverage of that decision will help him with that problem. There is no doubt that this move increased his visibility and his fundraising potential and when you are last in name ID, there is no such thing as “doesn’t need the money.”

    As for your contention that this is a non-partisan race, I all can say is “who is being ridiculous now?”

  30. Alger,
    You make a good point on, if Fletcher is polling in 4th, why do we care.
    The fact is that many of us feel betrayed. Many of us either supported him or were willing to support him if he went into the run off. Now he is something completely different. Plus, it is clear that he ran as a conservative to get conservative money. Once that dried up, he went independent to get union money. That is a betrayal, clear and simple.

    Love the timing of this announcement too. He announces his quitting the GOP the day before he had a debate in the ultra left LGBT debate. Truely a betrayal.

  31. Juan,

    Two of the main problems plaguing our political environment is the notion that elected officials (and candidates) should put party principles above personal principles, and the notion that if you are not 100% with us, then you must be against us.

    I believe you will find that Fletcher’s principles are the same today as they were last week. He was never in lock-step with the Republican Party platform and he never claimed to be. It is unfortunate that you could have supported the man if he had an R after his name, but cannot support the same man without it.

  32. Nathan raised hundreds and hundreds of thousands from well-to-do Republicans. When he had them pretty much maxed out in contributions — he suddenly left the GOP 70 days before the election.

    Now THERE’s a principled act!!

  33. 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.

    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.

  34. Richard,

    I would hope anyone who gave money to Fletcher gave because they were supporting the man and/or his policies. His change in party registration changes neither of those. You, of all people, should understand that.

  35. Alger,
    I did not say I supported him because he had an R after his name. What I said was that there are many people who thought he held republican ideals overall. As time went on and we saw his record, and listened to his comments on things such as Prop 187, the occupy movement and forcing the gay agenda in our schools, many of us became dillusioned. When he finally quit the GOP, most of us were already done with him….but it felt like the final nain in the coffin.
    So his betrayal was one that happened over months and years for many of us. For those who didn’t follow his record closely and just listened to his platitutes, his switch to Independent status was a wake up call. For many it was a bait and switch betrayal through and through.

  36. Juan,

    As I said previously, Fletcher hasn’t changed his ideals, just his party registration. As you point out, he never agreed with everything in the party platform. He still believes in most of it, but that wasn’t enough for the party, so he left. What I don’t understand is why you consider this a betrayal or a bait and switch. You point to his positions on gay rights and immigration, but Fletcher never pretended to be a social conservative.

  37. In 1978, Pete Wilson for Governor and finished in 4th place in a 4-candidate Republican field. He could have walked away from politics then, or blasted the Republican Party. But he didn’t.

    Instead Pete Wilson backed the primary winner, waited 4 years, ran for US Senate in 1982 and beat Jerry Brown. In 1990 he was almost unopposed for the Republican Governor nomination and beat Dianne Feinstein in November.

    Nathan Fletcher should have learned some lessons from Pete Wilson’s patience and ability to look ahead. It is ironic that Wilson supported Fletcher this time, and must be embarrassed by this impulsive bridge-burning.

  38. In 1978, Pete Wilson ran for Governor and finished 4th place in a 4-candidate Republican field. He could have walked away from politics then, or blasted the Republican Party. But he didn’t.

    Instead Pete Wilson backed the primary winner, waited 4 years, ran for US Senate in 1982 and beat Jerry Brown. In 1990 he was almost unopposed for the Republican Governor nomination and beat Dianne Feinstein in November.

    Nathan Fletcher should have learned some lessons from Pete Wilson’s patience and ability to look ahead. It is ironic that Wilson supported Fletcher this time, and must be embarrassed by this impulsive bridge-burning.

  39. Sacramento Sam,

    The difference is that the Republican Party didn’t endorse a candidate in the Republican primary when Wilson was running for Governor. In other words, the Republican Party of California never told their members to vote against Pete Wilson. By endorsing DeMaio, the Republican Party of San Diego is telling Republicans to vote against Fletcher.

  40. Alger, IF Fletcher had “come out” as an independent a year ago, he could claim the moral high ground , asserting that he acted on principle.

    But fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollar from mostly well-to-do Republicans — loudly claiming to be a Republican — and then bailing when many of these folks had “maxed out” their mayoral contribution to Fletcher — is simple opportunism.

    It might be a POLITICALLY smart move (we’ll know in June), but it damn sure wasn’t principled. Quite the opposite.

  41. Richard,

    A year ago, the Republican Party hadn’t told its members to vote against him.

    As for those who gave him money, if they did so just because he was a Republican and not because of who he is and what he stands for, then shame on them. They are the problem with our political system.

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