If it weren’t for the Republican Party, we would not even know who Nathan Fletcher is.
That’s right, the political party he abandoned last week after 15 years of professional association; the one that provided the structure and opportunities for a politically ambitious young man to learn the system; the one that gave him the identity and resources to run and win a seat in the State Assembly; the one that put him in position today to be a leading candidate for mayor in the 8th largest city in America; and the one that put him in a position of prominence such that his quitting actually mattered to anyone.
Unfortunately, Fletcher’s quitting the GOP has been looked at through the lense of a sympathetic establishment and media who believe Republicans are too extreme. This same establishment bemoans the party’s inability to focus on unifying economic issues while playing down “divisive” social issues. What makes this narrative remarkable is that in their enthusiasm to see Nathan as the good guy and the GOP as the bad, they ignored what actually happened.
The Republican Party didn’t reject Nathan Fletcher. It embraced Carl DeMaio.
Now if you aren’t from San Diego, that probably means nothing to you but it is important because a politically conservative San Diego County Republican Party endorsed an openly gay candidate, who eschews social issues, and focuses exclusively on economic issues. And they did it on the first ballot with 2/3rds of the vote.
The fact is Carl DeMaio has been fighting for reform in the city of San Diego since his arrival while Nathan pursued his political career. While DeMaio has been the driving force for managed competition, pension reform, and an outspoken critic of the downtown insiders on the left and the right, Nathan has been a non-factor. Frankly, even as a candidate he has been a reluctant voice for reform for fear of alienating the public safety unions and downtown special interests he needs for his campaign.
Fletcher served admirably in the Marine Corps and has been an effective state legislator. However, those things do not entitle one to the party’s endorsement – that must be earned. Carl DeMaio earned it.
Until this election cycle, an official GOP endorsement was rare for a candidate in a primary. That changed with Prop. 14, which Nathan supported. It has been said that “you reap what you sow” and we will see what that means for Nathan on June 5th and beyond.
Note: Revolvis Consulting works with DeMaio for Mayor