Politically Aware Awards 2015Politically Aware Thursday, January 7th, 2016
Commentary: Politically Aware
Local Politician of the Year: Mayor Kevin Faulconer. How does the mayor win with the Chargers likely leaving San Diego and no Comic-Con approved Convention Center expansion? Simple. Despite those issues, he is a Republican poised to skate to re-election unopposed in a city with a plurality of Democrats. Two Democratic powerhouses, Councilmember Todd Gloria and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, both passed on the race despite terming out of their current jobs. Faulconer owes some thanks to the City election laws that allow outright victory in the June primary, but part of politics is leveraging your advantages. Holding the mayor’s office could be just the first step, as it keeps Faulconer the most attractive Republican candidate for state-wide office in 2018.
Honorable Mention: Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. I listen to AM talk radio some days, and no local politician generates more ire with her agenda than Gonzalez. She also occasionally upsets some fellow Democrats. If they’re screaming at you from both sides, you must be doing something right. If she helps her current beau and former Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher into the mayor’s race, I may have to flip her and Faulconer.
National Politician of the Year: Justice Anthony Kennedy. “But Supreme Court justices aren’t politicians,” I hear you scream. Right. And Santa ate the cookies you put out Christmas Eve. On a divided Court, the Constitution increasingly says what Justice Kennedy says it does. Not only did he deliver on gay marriage and Obamacare, he was on the winning side of 5-4 decisions on equal housing, redistricting, lethal injection and pollution limits. If politics is about enacting your agenda, Kennedy did it better than anyone this year. In 2016, he is already poised to be the swing vote on abortion, affirmative action, voting rights and President Obama’s immigration orders. (Obammigration?) With Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Ginsburg all over 75, expect Supreme Court appointments to be a major issue in the 2016 general election.
Honorable Mention: House Speaker Paul Ryan. Former Speaker Boehner left behind a bitterly divided Republican caucus when he resigned. About all they could agree on was Ryan as the only leader all factions would tolerate. Genuine or not, Ryan played his reluctance perfectly, taking the Speaker’s gavel with enough good will to avoid a government shutdown despite growing the deficit. It will be interesting to see if the honeymoon lasts into 2016.
Best New Thing: Nationwide same-sex marriage. No contest.
Worst Thing: Chargers drama. It is absurd that this is still going on. The NFL wants a team in L.A., and Oakland doesn’t really have a stadium plan. Sounds like a match. Move the Raiders, let the Chargers and Rams stay where they are, and give Spanos and Kroenke an extra share of the L.A. revenue for a little while. Done. Roger Goodell, I’ll send you my bill.
Most important issue: Black Lives Matter/police conduct. Activists will tell you this isn’t a new issue, and they’re right. It gained a much needed spotlight this year, but sadly due to tragic events. Hopefully some answers can be found and implemented in 2016.
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