In one of the more bizarre conversations I’ve had on the San Diego Unified campaign trail, school board candidate Xeng Yang asked me not to print which groups had endorsed him. Yang is running against incumbent Shelia Jackson.
On the phone Wednesday, Yang listed his endorsements as the county Republican Party, the conservative-leaning Lincoln Club, former school board member Susan Braun, and several professors including his friend Kenji Ima.
A few minutes later, Yang called me back and said he did not want his endorsements to be listed. I asked him why. He just laughed. I explained that we routinely list endorsements for political candidates, and that typically candidates want us to list their endorsements. Several of his endorsements are already listed online on the websites of the local Republican Party and the Lincoln Club.
Yang has also refused to say if he has support from any current school board members, saying, “I can’t tell you right now.”
Curious about the endorsement, I called Lincoln Club executive director T. J. Zane to ask about the group’s selection of Yang, who previously identified himself as a Democrat. Zane said he “couldn’t comment specifically on his candidacy” though the club “stands by that endorsement.”
“He requested an endorsement, completed a questionnaire, did a candidate interview, and therefore he was endorsed,” Zane said, noting that Jackson did not seek their endorsement. He didn’t want to give a reason for endorsement because his members “may have each had their own reasons for voting for endorsements.”
Yang got a more enthusiastic endorsement from Kenji Ima, a retired San Diego State University professor who has donated to Yang and said he supported him because he was a friend, and because he was unimpressed with Jackson “grandstanding” on the issue of teacher layoff notices, which he believed were necessary during the budget crisis this spring.
Campaign disclosures for Yang show a small list of donors who gave him $3,422 between July and September, and a total of $1,375 in loans during the same period. He has charged nearly $6,500 to Discover Card for yard signs and slates.
Update: The original version of this post listed Yang’s party affiliation as Democrat. However, Yang changed his party affiliation to Republican after the June primaries, when he had identified himself as a Democrat. State Senate candidate Jeff Perwin, a Republican, said he believed that switching parties was a condition of the county Republican Party endorsement for Yang, who won their nod because “he was the only Republican running.”
Yang said he decided to change parties because he had not previously been involved in politics and did not realize that his beliefs more closely aligned with the Republican Party.
“I always believed in being self-sufficient, being independent, not relying on somebody,” Yang said.