On Wednesday morning my friend of many years, Nathan Fletcher, who was elected as a Republican member of the California State Assembly in 2008 and re-elected in 2010, rather abruptly announced that he was changing his voter registration — leaving the GOP to be an independent (“decline to state”) voter. I also found out that his wife, Mindy, another friend, re-registered as well. We carried the video announcement recorded by Fletcher prominently on the main page of the FlashReport, and we have included links to a number of articles and columns that have appeared on the subject. When I read the news, I reached out to Nathan directly.
Since Nathan’s announcement, I have been deluged with queries from fellow activists, party leaders, and a lot of folks in the media, asking me for my thoughts. With the exception of a call from one reporter whom I have known for over two decades, I have declined to really speak to Nathan’s decision — struggling to figure out exactly what I think about it, and how to put those thoughts into the written word. I have started that column four times now, and I keep stopping. This is not the first time that I have had to try to deal with the challenge of trying to write a difficult column about the actions or decisions of someone I consider to be a good friend. But this is proving, thus far, to definitely be the most difficult. Frankly, just trying to cover this particular race, for Mayor of San Diego, has been a bit difficult. I have endorsed no one thus far.
I have decided to take the weekend to really gather my thoughts about how to best articulate my feelings and thoughts about Nathan’s decision. I can throw out a lot of broad sweeping emotions that have gone though my mind the last couple of days — disappointment, frustration, amazement, and concern.
I have read a number of predictable opinion pieces from left-of-center columnist almost gleefully trying to draw some big-picture generalizations about how Nathan’s decision to change his voter registration is a symptom of some broad malady facing the California Republican Party. No surprise. And I have read pieces by others, party faithful, either upset that Nathan has “abandoned” the GOP or sad about it. One columnist yesterday painted Nathan as a hero, another as a fool. By weekend’s end I hope to be ready to give you all probably more thoughts on this than you will want — so much is running around in my head. For those expecting me to have already come out of the gate, blasting away and Nathan with a “fire and brimstone” sermon — you may very well get your wish. But not this morning, I just don’t have that in me. I’m just not ready to write on this. My apologies to those who count on my consistent “ready, fire, aim” type of political coverage to provide them with instant gratification.
For now I will just say this, with all sincerity. I have, and continue to pray for Nathan and Mindy.
I’ll close out this brief non-commentary by sharing with you the remarks that Nathan delivered to the San Diego County Republican Party on March 10, the night that the party ended up endorsing Carl De Maio for Mayor. It was only 17 days after delivering these remarks that Nathan left the Republican Party…
Thank you for having me. I’ve been a Republican my entire life, which is telling because I came out of a Democratic household. When I was a child, I represent a generation who’s first president we remember was President Reagan, who very clearly and succinctly outlined the difference between the candidates, between being an individualist and a collectivist, and that basic American dream is we have the power if left to our own devices to achieve greatness. We don’t need government to do it for us, we need it to stay out of the way.
I applied this at an early age. As a teenager I walked door to door. I spent summers in college sitting outside Home Depots registeringvoters. I worked on campaigns where I slept in headquarters. I went months without pay because I wanted the money to go to the cause. I organized African American ministers behind education reform and school vouchers. I was the Political Director of the California Republican Party where we gave more money and support to our grassroots causes and our county parties than at any point in our history, because I believe in that effort. I traveled around the country teaching youth outreach and voter registration at the request of the National Party. Then I went abroad to promote our principles and ideas in East Timor and Cambodia and Serbia. And time and again I’ve demonstrated commitment to our cause as a team player.
In 2001, things changed. Our country was attacked and I was asked to serve in a different way and I spent a period of time from 2002 to 2006 defending not only the principles of our Party but the principles of our country. I served in Iraq, in Fallujah and Ramadi and Baghdad and the SunniTriangle, on the Somali border and in Yemen. I witnessed the great pain of loss and terrible sacrifice of close friends of mine and family members who believed in these causes.
When I came back I wanted to continue to serve. I ran for the legislature where I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder to make the tough decisions. We’ve taken protests in our office where we had 20, 30 cops there because we refused to raise taxes. We’ve got mailings dropped across our district. When the Democrats said, “Alright, if you won’t vote for taxes we’ll put up an all-cuts budget,” I stood and voted for an all-cuts budget, not one that reduced welfare but one that eliminated it because we had to take a stand. When we had to vote to eliminate SB 400, the most egregious pension bill at the state that ever passed, I not only voted for it, I was the whip to go get other Republicans who weren’t inclined to stand up to do it.
Time and again I’ve demonstrated that, but I’ve also shown that, consistent with your principles, if you articulate it the right way you can bring people together to get good things done, like we did with Chelsea’s Law, which regulatory reform, with pension transparency and other measures.
And as you’re Mayor, I’ll do the same. I’ve taken the tough positions. I opposed Proposition D, I support the Comprehensive Pension Reform, I support the ban on Project Labor Agreements, I support the outsourcing ofCity services. But as your Mayor, I will also make sure our principles are translated into achievable action items that get done, because it’s not enough to have ideas, you’ve got to be able to turn them into reality to positively impact people’s lives.
One charge that’s been made this week, the only one I think that’s been accurate, is that I didn’t work as hard for this endorsement as others did. And that’s because I’ve been torn between what is in my best interest and what is in the best interest of this Party. And I’d be honored to have your endorsement, but I see a greater purpose and good that says, let’s unite behind the City Council candidates, between passing Pension Reform, between our other causes. And at some point being part of a team means you have to care more about the team than your individual ambitions. If this Party chooses to endorse, I’d be honored to be your endorsed candidate. If you choose not to endorse, I’ll be honored to join our team either as a member or as a nominee for Mayor after the primary as we defeat Bob Filner and as we get our city back on track.
I’ve lived our principles. I am the American Dream. I grew up in a blue-collar family, the first to go to college. I am a reflection of that which is what’s great about us, that ability that anyone can achieve success. I’ve lived our principles as a Party. I’ve defended our principles as a Party as a Marine in combat. I’ve fought for our principles as a legislator, and if elected Mayor, I will take our principles and I will turn them into action as we move our city forward.
I am very proud to have a long and committed track record with this Party and with this cause. I’m very proud to have stood with you for years, going back to the early days, walking door to door, registering voters. As a legislator I’ve raised and given more than a quarter of a million dollars to our candidates and causes, and will do the same.
Thank you very, very much for all that you do every day to make our Party great. Thank you for allowing me to be a member of this group and for participating in today’s process. I appreciate it. Thank you.