The District 4 Election Hangover

The District 4 Election Hangover

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Myrtle Cole celebrates her special election victory.

This morning a supporter of Dwayne Crenshaw, who lost the District 4 City Council election Tuesday night, said he was done.

 

You could chalk up Katz’s dissatisfaction to the fact that his favored candidate lost. But the grossness that emanated from the campaign affected the winner, Myrtle Cole, too.

“This was almost like hell week, but for five months,” Cole said in her victory speech to supporters.

We’ve written about why the campaign got so negative: Outside groups spent lots of money, few people showed up to vote and the two Democratic candidates needed to find ways to distinguish themselves.

But it’s worth taking stock of the viciousness and voluminous ways groups tried to mislead voters or attack the candidates’ characters.

• A shadowy PAC called San Diego Voters for Progress and Reform sent an intentionally false mailer dubiously attacking Cole for an Ethics Commission fine. The PAC took advantage of a loophole in financial reporting rules and didn’t list its donors. Though the mailer was sent in March, we still don’t know who paid for it. Not only that, but the PAC used a facsimile of the city’s seal to make its mailer look like an official letter.

• Before the primary, community newspaper Voice & Viewpoint wrote an editorial saying Crenshaw wasn’t qualified for the seat in part because he’s gay.

• The conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego County sent a mailer repeating the claim we already debunked about Cole’s ethics fine.

• The San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council implied in a mailer that Crenshaw took money from a neighborhood organization to spend on himself. In fact, he sued the organization claiming he was fired for being gay and received a legal settlement.

• Cole falsely accused Crenshaw of being involved in a crack cocaine deal two decades ago. Even worse, the police officer Cole quoted to support her claim said he was taken out of context when the allegation first surfaced 10 years ago.

• More than $630,000 was spent on the race and, according to the current tally, fewer than 25,000 people voted in the primary and runoff combined. That’s more than $25 per vote. All the outside money prompted a local political consultant to call the race “bought.”

Doug Porter, who edits the liberal website San Diego Free Press, said he stopped covering the race because it had gotten so ugly.

“I can’t even hold my nose and get near this sh*t,” Porter wrote.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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11 comments
Sam Ollinger
Sam Ollinger subscriber

What upsets me is not so much the negative campaigning (that strikes me as part and parcel of the campaign game these days) - but the low voter turnout (which could certainly be an effect of the negative campaigning). I wonder if an informed voting populace would result in higher turnouts and then the campaigning would essentially be all about one-upping the other in terms of accomplishments and/or promises. I also think that many don't feel like they have a voice or a stake in the issues so...why bother. That coupled with the dilution of how information gets to people - it seems like this may be a very hard problem to solve: i.e. how to educate the public, build the trust and then deliver on promises while being honest about the processes involved with good governance? I am in general very surprised at how little people know about civic involvement and one's role as a citizen - not just in voting for Council or the Mayor but in all the tiny little elections that happen around the city and region (school board, community planning board, etc). I am totally out of touch with what is taught in schools these days - but I do find it surprising that few people know the basics of civics.

Kelly Abbott
Kelly Abbott contributormember

How would this work? Are the models for this elsewhere?

Jerry Ollinger
Jerry Ollinger

What's unfortunate is the candidate who runs strictly a positive campaign and doesn't take outside money loses the election. This 4th district election is an example of why we need voting reform. The money and vitriol in elections is what turns citizens off on politics and makes them feel negative about their elected officials. Let's all of us work towards Clean Elections and get neighborhoods involved.

Steve Mehlman
Steve Mehlman

The election is over, so let's review. Once again, it cuts both ways. 1. A shadowy PAC called San Diego Voters for Progress and Reform sent an intentionally false mailer dubiously attacking Cole for an Ethics Commission fine. The PAC took advantage of a loophole in financial reporting rules and didn’t list its donors. Though the mailer was sent in March, we still don’t know who paid for it. Not only that, but the PAC used a facsimile of the city’s seal to make its mailer look like an official letter. (At least with the Cole campaign you knew who was paying for mailers, etc.) The conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego County sent a mailer repeating the claim we already debunked about Cole’s ethics fine. 2. I've been over this several times, but supporters of Crenshaw falsely alleged that Myrtle Cole's employer--UDW Homecare Providers Union--did not support LGBT candidates. 3. When the Voice and Viewpoint ran its anti-gay editorial about Crenshaw, Cole denounced it and disavowed it immediately. When did Crenshaw disavow the false PAC mailer or the false accusations about UDW? 4. We've reached some sort of bizarro world when the labor movement in San Diego is condemned for not being progressive enough and for being homophobic by the same people who are being supported by the UT and the Lincoln Club. Yes, it was a nasty campaign, and I'm truly sorry. I know Myrtle Cole is a better person than that, and I assume Dwayne Crenshaw also is. But it is time to stop with the nonsense that the Cole campaign was the epitome of evil while the Crenshaw campaign was all sweetness and light. It's time to move on.

Steve Mehlman
Steve Mehlman subscriber

The election is over, so let's review. Once again, it cuts both ways. 1. A shadowy PAC called San Diego Voters for Progress and Reform sent an intentionally false mailer dubiously attacking Cole for an Ethics Commission fine. The PAC took advantage of a loophole in financial reporting rules and didn’t list its donors. Though the mailer was sent in March, we still don’t know who paid for it. Not only that, but the PAC used a facsimile of the city’s seal to make its mailer look like an official letter. (At least with the Cole campaign you knew who was paying for mailers, etc.) The conservative Lincoln Club of San Diego County sent a mailer repeating the claim we already debunked about Cole’s ethics fine. 2. I've been over this several times, but supporters of Crenshaw falsely alleged that Myrtle Cole's employer--UDW Homecare Providers Union--did not support LGBT candidates. 3. When the Voice and Viewpoint ran its anti-gay editorial about Crenshaw, Cole denounced it and disavowed it immediately. When did Crenshaw disavow the false PAC mailer or the false accusations about UDW? 4. We've reached some sort of bizarro world when the labor movement in San Diego is condemned for not being progressive enough and for being homophobic by the same people who are being supported by the UT and the Lincoln Club. Yes, it was a nasty campaign, and I'm truly sorry. I know Myrtle Cole is a better person than that, and I assume Dwayne Crenshaw also is. But it is time to stop with the nonsense that the Cole campaign was the epitome of evil while the Crenshaw campaign was all sweetness and light. It's time to move on.

Audie de Castro
Audie de Castro

I was disappointed in the homophobic remarks the most. They began early on. And I was witness to many of them. Some blatant, some subtle--but the intent seemed the same. Even if those statements were criticized, it was too late. They were out there. And it was unfair to expect Dwayne Crenshaw to have to respond to them because common sense tells me that it only highlighted his private life which should have never been an issue but was. I find it really ironic that homophobia was prevalent in a community that often claims to be discriminated against. I am disappointed in a lot of groups, including groups that I previously supported, to not fight harder against this type of discrimination. They wanted to win, at all costs. Also, did anybody criticize other candidates for reaching out to the other side? As a Democrat, I didn't see anything wrong with Nathan Fletcher reaching out to Democrats when he was a Republican. He was never called a sell-out. Criticizing Dwayne for reaching out to Republicans and other groups (when he was discriminated against by many in his own community and had no other choice) was really unfair. Double standards.

Audie de Castro
Audie de Castro subscriber

I was disappointed in the homophobic remarks the most. They began early on. And I was witness to many of them. Some blatant, some subtle--but the intent seemed the same. Even if those statements were criticized, it was too late. They were out there. And it was unfair to expect Dwayne Crenshaw to have to respond to them because common sense tells me that it only highlighted his private life which should have never been an issue but was. I find it really ironic that homophobia was prevalent in a community that often claims to be discriminated against. I am disappointed in a lot of groups, including groups that I previously supported, to not fight harder against this type of discrimination. They wanted to win, at all costs. Also, did anybody criticize other candidates for reaching out to the other side? As a Democrat, I didn't see anything wrong with Nathan Fletcher reaching out to Democrats when he was a Republican. He was never called a sell-out. Criticizing Dwayne for reaching out to Republicans and other groups (when he was discriminated against by many in his own community and had no other choice) was really unfair. Double standards.

Kelly Abbott
Kelly Abbott contributormember

Classic Pyrrhic victory.

Sam Ollinger
Sam Ollinger

What upsets me is not so much the negative campaigning (that strikes me as part and parcel of the campaign game these days) - but the low voter turnout (which could certainly be an effect of the negative campaigning). I wonder if an informed voting populace would result in higher turnouts and then the campaigning would essentially be all about one-upping the other in terms of accomplishments and/or promises. I also think that many don't feel like they have a voice or a stake in the issues so...why bother. That coupled with the dilution of how information gets to people - it seems like this may be a very hard problem to solve: i.e. how to educate the public, build the trust and then deliver on promises while being honest about the processes involved with good governance? I am in general very surprised at how little people know about civic involvement and one's role as a citizen - not just in voting for Council or the Mayor but in all the tiny little elections that happen around the city and region (school board, community planning board, etc). I am totally out of touch with what is taught in schools these days - but I do find it surprising that few people know the basics of civics.

Kelly Abbott
Kelly Abbott

How would this work? Are the models for this elsewhere?

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