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Debates draw clearer dividing lines

Commentary: Politically Aware

Last week started with a Monday mayoral forum at the Old Globe Theatre, where three Republican candidates cozied up to an audience of non-profit volunteers, while the lone Democratic candidate phoned in.

The most contentious moment was Assemblyman Fletcher’s closing argument, where his attacks on Councilman Carl DeMaio felt awkward in an otherwise positive event.

By the time of Wednesday’s forum at The LGBT Center, Fletcher had become an Independent; and contrast was now name of the mayoral game. While DeMaio and Fletcher attacked each other’s LGBT records, Filner played to the crowd’s sense of humor as well as its likely political leanings. Bonnie Dumanis held her ground.

For those who missed either or both of the debates – or left confused, here is a recap …

DeMaio vs. Fletcher

Fletcher threw down the gauntlet at the Monday debate during his closing statement, accusing DeMaio of altering his talking points to suit whatever audience he’s speaking to. DeMaio struck back Wednesday, glancing at Fletcher and suggesting that SOMEONE had put out a hit piece on DeMaio’s sexuality. Fletcher countered by citing DeMaio’s attack on him for supporting the FAIR Education Act, a point he hammered home all night, asking DeMaio whether he would have supported SB-48.

Councilmember Carl DeMaio

Even at The LGBT Center, DeMaio put fiscal reform over LGBT issues, saying the best thing he could do for San Diego’s LGBT community was to be the best mayor he could be.

Best Moment: DeMaio had never seemed more real than Monday, when he discussed how his own adolescence made homelessness a core issue to him. He also gets kudos for keeping it together Wednesday, where members of his own community heckled and booed him. Even those who question his vision would have a hard time indicting his toughness.

Worst Moment: Telling your staff, from the stage, to call your next event and explain your tardiness seems rude, not indulgent.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis

San Diego’s most popular politician always comes across as pleasant and competent. She’d be a runaway choice for city manager – unfortunately for Dumanis, we don’t have a city manager – but she doesn’t always show the strong leadership San Diegans seem to want in a mayor.

Best Moment: Her closing statements. When Dumanis tells you how long she’s worked for San Diego, and what it means to her, it’s hard not to see her hands as the safest place for America’s Finest City.

Worst Moment: At the Old Globe debate, the moderators asked for a four-word answer. DeMaio, Fletcher, and Filner all complied. Dumanis went for about 30 more. That made her answer seem less clear, not more.

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher

Whether a Republican or an Independent, Fletcher enjoys the power to connect in a way that stirs the heart (and a dislike for DeMaio that raises eyebrows).

Best Moment: Fletcher talking about service. By discussing Iraq, his children, and his commitment to San Diego, Fletcher can bring a crowd to tears and to their feet like no other candidate in this, or perhaps any, race.

Worst Moment: Fletcher seemed to get the short end of every exchange of pleasantries with Rep. Filner. By the end of Wednesday’s forum, he seemed two feet shorter, and ready to take any of a variety of jobs that Filner might offer in his administration.

Rep. Bob Filner

Many wonder why Filner isn’t campaigning more. Turns out he has a job. His opponents should hope congressional votes keep him phoning it in, because Filner in person is a dangerous presence to his opponents.

Best Moment: With comments about his opponent’s party switch and numerous job offers, Filner seemed to make Fletcher shrink in front of our eyes Wednesday, doing it in a way DeMaio must envy.

Worst Moment: When you’re the oldest candidate in the race, getting confused about your own stance on issues doesn’t play well – nor does swearing. Grumpy Old Men is a funny movie, but a bad political statement.

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Posted by on Apr 5, 2012. Filed under Politically Aware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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