What has me interested about Nathan Fletcher’s departure from the Republican party, as well as the group of local CEOs that have followed him, is the potential this group has to recreate the institutional and economic support that a third party candidate needs to compete against the establishment parties.

The extent to which Fletcher is a true independent or just a Republican opportunist is less important than whether he can seriously compete against the two parties. If he can, both the Republican and Democratic candidates would have to redefine themselves more closely to their extreme bases (it seems that the Republican Party has been doings this anyways, at least nationally).  

Parties seem to be fairly weak, with respect to their ability to enforce policy preferences among their members. Voters are more able to keep politicians in check — Tea Party pressure on DC Republicans is a good example.

What the party can do is offer institutional support in terms of endorsements, campaign contributions from other party members and the national/state party, voter phone/email lists, support in getting on the ballot, etc.

If these CEOs can set up the political infrastructure for an independent candidate to flourish in San Diego, I think this would be the more far-reaching impact of Fletcher’s decision to leave the GOP.

Oscar Ramos lives in Golden Hill. What do you think? Put your thoughts here.

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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