Conservative Republican group holds first mayoral debateAround the City Thursday, January 19th, 2012
The first mayoral debate among the four leading candidates at the U.S. Grant Hotel, presented by the Lincoln Club of San Diego County was, by all measures, a draw.
The following is this reporter’s analysis of each candidate’s performance at the debate.
City Councilman Carl DeMaio
While DeMaio started out stiff, he soon relaxed and proved to be a very good debater. He stayed focused and consistent on his platform and plans and reminded everyone that he is the only businessperson running.
DeMaio was the only millionaire on stage, and the only candidate who has been the largest single contributor to his own campaign. It was a surprise for many when DeMaio stated that he felt that the Occupy San Diego protestors should not have been charged with felonies, but with misdemeanors.
He also stated that if he became mayor he would “reach out to my former adversaries,” a wise move, as even the Union-Tribune has called DeMaio a divisive figure. And, Donna Frye went as far as calling him a bully.
And though at times, he came across as cold, Carl DeMaio did a great job and was the only one to get major applause interruptions during his remarks.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis
Bonnie Dumanis was certainly a cool, steady and strong debater. And with her 94 percent conviction rate as district attorney (one of the highest in the state and nation), San Diego’s very own Iron Lady worked her way up the ladder, beginning as a typist, moving on to become a prosecutor, judge and now DA. Dumanis reminded the crowd that she was the only one with chief executive experience among the candidates, overseeing more than 1,000 people. During the debate, Dumanis was the first candidate to bring up the issue of the need to create jobs in San Diego.
Dumanis has always come out on top in polling about which officials have earned public respect.
While Dumanis has pledged to give up the $100,464 salary the mayor is entitled to, after last night’s debate, the other candidates are going to focus on her annual pension after nearly four decades of life as a public servant.
Dumanis was very articulate and sincere when bringing up the fact that many San Diegans “are hurting.” She scored points by stating that City Hall under her administration would have a more “open-door policy” for all. Bonnie Dumanis also talked about how the public does not trust government.
She wore her endorsement by Mayor Jerry Sanders proudly and stated that she would not accept any endorsements from any unions.
Dumanis put in a cool, calm and sharp performance last night and proved she was ready, and could take on any of the boys.
Congressman Bob Filner
The lone Democrat in the race knew he was in enemy territory, but held his own with lots of humor, showing the crowd a kinder and gentler Bob Filner than usual.
However, he was blunt. And he was direct; and he kept going after Carl DeMaio. He reminded the crowd that politicians created the city hall mess, not the workers and city employees.
Yes, Filner may be the “old war horse” in this race, but he has established a loyal and unwavering base.
A big laugh came when he stated what Ronald Reagan said during one of his most famous debates: He would not hold some of his opponents’ youth and inexperience against them.
It is said that Bob Filner has a so-called reputation as radical and rude. But, at last night’s debate, he was in full control and proudly stood his progressive-liberal ground in a room full of conservative Republican businessmen, many of whom have hated him for decades. Filner, I believe will continue to go on the attack, but with facts and in a more gentlemanly way. As the past chairman of the Congressional Veterans Committee, his record for helping veterans is outstanding, and he rightfully talked about it.
State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher
If this proud former Marine, who has experience defending our nation in combat in the Middle East, is elected San Diego’s next mayor, he will be the youngest person to hold the office in history.
The problem for Fletcher, according to recent polling, is his lack of name identification in the City of San Diego. Thus he keeps placing last among the four.
The good news for Fletcher is the primary isn’t until June and he has received more individual contributors than any candidates, and can most certainly turn things around. I liked his call to stop blaming and pointing fingers concerning our city’s problems. I’m all for fixing things and moving forward as Fletcher said, so doing would be his focus as mayor.
This son of a factory worker is indeed a new, welcome breath of fresh air, with new ideas. His views on a new sports stadium are right on, and his “shout out” to Toni Atkins and the issue of redevelopment was warranted.
Fletcher came across during the debate as a visionary and most certainly part of a new generation of leadership. But, it is his inexperience in local government that concerns many. Yet, at the debate, he was very knowledgeable about all the issues.
Fletcher called to “move past the divisiveness plaguing San Diego politics.”
One big disappointment for me, however, was Fletcher’s and DeMaio’s refusal to state that they would keep our city’s popular and most effective Police Chief Bill Lansdowne. Bravo to Dumanis and Filner for committing to keeping one of our city’s best police chiefs ever. I say, keep your eyes on Nathan Fletcher, nevertheless. He may well surprise everyone.
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