As Sacramento legislators continue to pass laws that make California increasingly less competitive, while ignoring needed reforms in the way state government taxes, spends, and regulates, San Diego stands as a bright spot for advocates of reform, fiscal sanity, and transparency. That bright spot is because of the efforts of City Councilman Carl DeMaio, candidate for mayor of California’s second largest city.
Charter reform, coupled with redistricting, have taken the San Diego City Council from eight seats to nine, having already changed the mayor into a “strong mayor” executive role, and separating the office from the council. Going into this election, left-leaning councilmembers outnumbered pro-business councilmembers 5-3. However, the outright victories of businessmen Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman in the June primary have created a 4-4 split with the deciding ninth seat a battle between businessman Ray Ellis and liberal incumbent Sherri Lightner. Ellis topped Lightner in the 4-way June primary and reformers are excited about Ellis’ chances in November.
But the best part about what is happening in San Diego is not the prospect of a pro-reform, pro-business city council. It is the prospect of unwavering reformer DeMaio as the city’s next mayor. After coming in first in the 4-way June primary, which featured two other right-of-center candidates: Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis; and liberal 20-year Congressman Bob Filner.
DeMaio, finishing his first term on the council, placed first, with Filner second, however the combined right-of-center vote exceeded 60%, far outpacing Democrats 40-28% registration advantage.
Going into November, DeMaio is running a strong campaign based on his efforts to reform government employee pensions (Prop. B), transparency in government contracting (Prop. A), and opposition to the sales tax increase (Prop. D). DeMaio led the charge for both reforms and the anti-sales tax campaign and prevailed with over 60% in each battle. His reform agenda has become the mantra of the pro-jobs right-of-center coalition in San Diego and has unified the Republican Party while attracting impressive Democrat and Independent support.
In fact, after Nathan Fletcher’s switch from Republican to Independent in the primary, polling showed that DeMaio still pulled more Decline to State voters than any other candidate, including a 4-1 advantage over Fletcher.
Party leaders who want to see a model for reform, transparency, and the application of market-forces to good governance, need look no further than DeMaio’s efforts in San Diego. With labor and Sacramento liberals increasingly killing our state’s economy and competitiveness, the DeMaio model can be the path out of the political wilderness.
With all that DeMaio has going for him, he will still see the public employee unions come after him with a vengeance. They are expected to spend millions against DeMaio and have already reserved hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of TV ad time. Their campaign against him is 100% negative and will be as brutal as anything San Diego voters have ever seen.
If the right-of-center coalition wants to build an eventual governing majority, that effort starts in San Diego and Carl DeMaio.
Revolvis Consulting advises DeMaio, Ellis, Kersey, and Sherman.