Opinion

DeMaio to Blame for Filner’s Election

DeMaio to Blame for Filner’s Election

File photos by Sam Hodgson

Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner

Now that the deal for his exit is set, assuming Bob Filner doesn’t pull some stunt at the last second, the finger-pointing can start. Just who is responsible for Mayor Filner’s election? That’s an easy one: It’s Carl DeMaio, who made two monumental blunders.

Letters logoFirst, DeMaio had already enraged every union leader by continually pointing out how public employee unions had substantially damaged San Diego’s finances with the fabulous package they enjoyed at taxpayer expense. How many times did he drum home the unanswerable question, “Why should public employees have a much better deal than those in the private sector?” Union leaders fumed as DeMaio constantly decried the ridiculously early retirement ages, the bloated pensions, job security and generous health care benefits while private sector employees had watched their situations deteriorate. And, when he followed it up by co-sponsoring an initiative to try to correct the situation, unions throughout the state and even nationally became obsessed with defeating DeMaio.

Mistake No. 2 was in thinking Filner was easily beatable. DeMaio had done his homework and knew that Filner was an egomaniacal bully, prone to melt down at unpredictable times, and counted on him to do this during the campaign. I remember attending one of DeMaio’s fundraisers and hearing him say he was working to make sure Filner was his opponent in the runoff. I thought at the time DeMaio should be careful what he wished for, given our Democratic registration plurality and Filner’s vaunted “liberal” credentials: working in favor of the downtrodden, the disabled, veterans, minorities, etc. And DeMaio never really made an issue of the fact that Filner, throughout his long career, had never actually run anything but his mouth, so he was unprepared to delegate and ended up trying to micromanage everything upon taking office.

Sure enough, although Filner made some gaffes during the campaign and DeMaio showed a pretty cool demeanor in their debates, the coalition of union “feet on the ground” and liberals constantly reminded of Filner’s “freedom riding” more than 50 years ago got out the vote and overcame his track record as a back-bench 10-term congressman not popular among his peers. The displays of pique Filner had shown during his long tenure in Washington were overlooked, and the misgivings of many of his Democratic colleagues about his behavior toward women went unstated until long after he was elected. So, his positive-sounding “community” agenda appealed to the imagination of sufficient voters to elect him.

So DeMaio is the villain in this saga, no doubt to the delight of his many detractors. But I think that Filner’s former employee, the one now suing him, summed it up pretty well when she noted that, without character, the agenda is irrelevant.

Bradshaw’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

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Bill Bradshaw

Bill Bradshaw
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14 comments
shawn fox
shawn fox

Bill; although it was a good effort your use of the word villain was a turnoff. The sarcasm may have registered initially, but the use of the word villain ruined it. It made it seem like Carl was doing something malicious, rather than simply making a series of mistakes. The first bullet is way off considering that prop b passed overwhelmingly. The biggest was mistake was in assuming that Bob could be easily defeated in a two way race. In a two way race, progressives have only the choices of Bob and none of the above. They certainly aren't going to vote for an R under any circumstance. A two way race is much harder due to the lower margin of error. Carl is correct that the R brand name is a nonstarter for some people, but that was a poor excuse for losing because that will never change. I just think that the attempts to move towards the middle alienated some of the most passionate supporters, and that was ultimately the downfall of the campaign in my opinion. The votes for a republican to win in a city wide election are available. There is nothing wrong with the brand name or whatever he wants to call it.

shawn fox
shawn fox subscriber

Bill; although it was a good effort your use of the word villain was a turnoff. The sarcasm may have registered initially, but the use of the word villain ruined it. It made it seem like Carl was doing something malicious, rather than simply making a series of mistakes. The first bullet is way off considering that prop b passed overwhelmingly. The biggest was mistake was in assuming that Bob could be easily defeated in a two way race. In a two way race, progressives have only the choices of Bob and none of the above. They certainly aren't going to vote for an R under any circumstance. A two way race is much harder due to the lower margin of error. Carl is correct that the R brand name is a nonstarter for some people, but that was a poor excuse for losing because that will never change. I just think that the attempts to move towards the middle alienated some of the most passionate supporters, and that was ultimately the downfall of the campaign in my opinion. The votes for a republican to win in a city wide election are available. There is nothing wrong with the brand name or whatever he wants to call it.

Billy Boy
Billy Boy

And now Aguirre is in the race...As much as I would love to see the soap opera drama created at City hall between Aguirre and Goldsmith or Demaio and himself, I sure hope San Diego moves past all this comedy. We need a leader that will move forward with the City's business and hopefully be a bit less volatile. Maybe someone who can win it on the first go round so the City doesn’t have to shell out more $$$ A certain combat vet comes to mind...

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Thanks for the fan letters, guys. Guess my sarcasm didn't register. As for blaming the voters, that’s what Democrats usually do when they lose an election they hoped to win. I’m a Republican, so I don’t do that. Like David Cohen, I thought Filner would probably win, simply because labor had so much at stake they worked and spent their tails off getting out their voters. We didn’t, and unfortunately the “dumb” votes count as much as the smart ones. Carl thought Fletcher, as an independent, would be harder to beat than Democrat Filner? Made no sense to me at the time. Would Democrats have rallied around an independent fresh from the Republican ranks? I didn’t see it that way. Now we’ll see whether “Democrat” Fletcher can be beaten, and whether Carl wants to go for broke by switching to the mayoral race. Should be interesting, except it’s likely to be a long slog, and with Mike Aguirre and probably Todd Gloria entering the race it’s not likely to be decided without a runoff. You can add another 6-10 mil to the cost of the Filner fiasco.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Thanks for the fan letters, guys. Guess my sarcasm didn't register. As for blaming the voters, that’s what Democrats usually do when they lose an election they hoped to win. I’m a Republican, so I don’t do that. Like David Cohen, I thought Filner would probably win, simply because labor had so much at stake they worked and spent their tails off getting out their voters. We didn’t, and unfortunately the “dumb” votes count as much as the smart ones. Carl thought Fletcher, as an independent, would be harder to beat than Democrat Filner? Made no sense to me at the time. Would Democrats have rallied around an independent fresh from the Republican ranks? I didn’t see it that way. Now we’ll see whether “Democrat” Fletcher can be beaten, and whether Carl wants to go for broke by switching to the mayoral race. Should be interesting, except it’s likely to be a long slog, and with Mike Aguirre and probably Todd Gloria entering the race it’s not likely to be decided without a runoff. You can add another 6-10 mil to the cost of the Filner fiasco.

amy roth
amy roth

Two bones to pick with this: 1. Since when is endlessly repeating a key campaign talking point unusual or ill-advised? 2. And a greater force behind Filner's election was that at a time when liberal strongholds around the country are moderating their anti-business/pro-union populist approaches, the traditionally red city of San Diego is marching self-righteously in the other direction.

amy roth
amy roth subscribermember

Two bones to pick with this: 1. Since when is endlessly repeating a key campaign talking point unusual or ill-advised? 2. And a greater force behind Filner's election was that at a time when liberal strongholds around the country are moderating their anti-business/pro-union populist approaches, the traditionally red city of San Diego is marching self-righteously in the other direction.

David Cohen
David Cohen

Consider that one of the folks who commented here before me assured us (with magic numbers to prove it) that DeMe-me-me-o was a dead certainty to defeat Filner in the runoff. Foolish me, I thought at the time Filner was likely to win. Now, if primary voters are not careful, DeMe-me-me-o might get Todd Gloria elected. I'll comment again after we know who will be in the runoff election.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Consider that one of the folks who commented here before me assured us (with magic numbers to prove it) that DeMe-me-me-o was a dead certainty to defeat Filner in the runoff. Foolish me, I thought at the time Filner was likely to win. Now, if primary voters are not careful, DeMe-me-me-o might get Todd Gloria elected. I'll comment again after we know who will be in the runoff election.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

The only people responsible for Filner being in office are those that voted for Filner, and they were overwhelming people who put their own greed above the good of the city.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

The only people responsible for Filner being in office are those that voted for Filner, and they were overwhelming people who put their own greed above the good of the city.

Gregory Gandrud
Gregory Gandrud

This is about the dumbest article I have ever read. Rather than blame DeMaio, why not blame the low-information voters who register and vote Democrat?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Yes, I underestimated just how little electing someone like Filner would matter to some people. I guess bullying women and taking money from terrorist groups resonates with the left. How's Filner working out for you?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Yes, I underestimated just how little electing someone like Filner would matter to some people. I guess bullying women and taking money from terrorist groups resonates with the left. How's Filner working out for you?