Local Democrats held back on automatically endorsing two sitting Democrat school board members for reelection last night and will instead make John de Beck and Katherine Nakamura make their case for the party nod. Members called it rare: Incumbents are usually guaranteed their party endorsement.

The San Diego Democratic Party could still endorse de Beck and Nakamura for re-election this fall, but the two will have to persuade them to do it. Holding back is a sign that the Democrats aren’t totally convinced that the two sitting members, who have split with rest of the San Diego Unified school board on touchy issues like a labor pact for school construction, are voting far enough to the left. The rest of the all-Democrat board was elected a year and a half ago and enjoyed strong support from the teachers union, something that de Beck and Nakamura haven’t always had.

Both of the incumbents have possible Democratic challengers: Nakamura is facing off with Kevin Beiser, a Sweetwater middle school teacher, and business owner Stephen Rosen. De Beck is competing against Patrick McFarland, a San Diego State student interested in the seat.

The Democrats are expected to make their decision in April. These will be interesting races to watch. The school board may be a nonpartisan election, but that hardly means it isn’t political.


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