I respect Nathan Fletcher, he’s served honorably and put his life on the line in defense of our county – we all owe him a debt for that service. He has been an able and conscience Assemblyman. And, he’s been effective, successful Republican.
But, Nathan spent much of his adult life as GOP insider, fighting and taking sides as a Republican staffer, activist and elected official. He promoted and helped Republican candidates – supporting those he thought were the “better Republican.”
A short time ago he was fighting to become the Republican standard bearer in the race for San Diego Mayor. Only after the San Diego Republican Party said “we like you, Nathan, but we think Carl is a better choice for Mayor” did he suddenly find a moral imperative to abandon the party. I don’t know what is in his heart, but I cannot help asking if this was a crisis of conscience or simply raw political opportunism.
Rather than “rejecting division,” the moves strikes me more of embracing the politics of personality over principle. To me, it screams that he values his personal success more than the ideas all of us have fought for together.
If after a long struggle to address his concerns with the Republican Party; if he had put his office on the line by raising his voice in a call for change; if he had barnstormed the state recruiting and supporting like-minded Republican candidates; then I could accept this as a noble act of conscience rather than a desperate tactic to revive a flagging campaign. Had he been doing that, I could say, “we disagree on this, but maybe we’ll agree on something else.” But he hasn’t – in fact, he largely floated along with the prevailing partisan currents.
He’s voted differently than his Assembly GOP colleague on a vote or two. But he was certainly no maverick demanding a new path. In 2009 five GOP legislators broke with their colleagues on the budget by “negotiating” – they said they were doing so out of conscience, to keep the state from driving off a financial cliff and to win pension and other reforms before the Democrats passed the budget without any input from Republicans. While I disagreed with them, they all put their office on the line to do what they thought was right. Nathan not only did not join them – or even defend them – he merrily went along with efforts to drive them out of office.
I’m a Republican, because I agree with the core principles of our party. But I’ve never been a party “favorite” – apparently I am too blunt and rebellious for some folks. I’ve been a vocal critic of the Legislature and the tone-deaf messaging of GOP leadership. I think big announcements about the need for Latino outreach, followed by a failure of the CRP to endorse 8 of the 9 Latino Republicans running for Legislative office is funny – not ha-ha funny, but peculiar funny. I think 122 convention speeches lauding smaller government and the need for a farm team program, that never led to smaller government or support for candidates who are the farm team smacks of jolly rhetoric. I’ll continue to push, prod and work to make the party more effective. But I’m not going to quit just because the Party doesn’t support me or one of my candidates.
We shouldn’t pillory Nathan for his decision – he’s in a tough election and trying to survive. But let’s not pretend his move was altruistic, or anything more or less than a campaign tactic.