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I might make Scott Lewis’ point in a different way — likely reflecting the fact I am a history geek. What Carl DeMaio represents is an effort to see if one can forge an alternative coalition that is a break with San Diego’s history.

Traditionally (really stretching all the way back the Marston’s mayoral races) conservative candidates have largely aligned themselves with “downtown” commercial interests while the more liberal candidates have tried to oppose this coalition by cobbling together neighborhoods. This doesn’t mean Republicans vs. Democrats since numerous times in San Diego’s history it has been two registered Republicans fighting it out. The challenge has always been that the neighborhoods are extremely diverse in their interests and concerns and thus the more liberal candidate has always had a hard time squaring the circle to convincing Point Loma, Barrio Logan, La Jolla and College Area that all their concerns could be met if one just voted “against” the center-right. Maureen O’Connor and Dick Murphy (remember, he was left of Ron Roberts on a ton of issues) did it but it took the aftermath of scandal. Most times the more center-right candidate wins promising downtown projects and at least a neutral position when it comes to land development.

DeMaio is recasting this and seeing if you can win in San Diego by building a non-downtown movement from a conservative perspective. What Lewis is picking up, I believe, is that because in times past the San Diego GOP would not have endorsed a mayoral candidate with DeMaio’s record on lifting the redevelopment cap, a new City Hall, and his skepticism about taxes for infrastructure investments. Not sure they have given DeMaio a fair shake on this but, at least the things I hear on the street, there are a lot of the downtown folks who are NOT DeMaio fans.

What is really fascinating is, should DeMaio and Bob Filner get through the primary, where do the downtown commercial interests go THEN???

Fair disclosure — I have supported and endorsed DeMaio for mayor.

Erik Bruvold, president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research.


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