Jason Roe is offended.
Carl DeMaio’s top strategist is busy raining on the parade being thrown in the media for Tom Shepard, another political strategist who helped orchestrate Bob Filner’s mayoral win.
Only Nathan Fletcher’s switch from Republican to independent was more startling this year than Shepard’s decision to work with Filner after Fletcher failed to advance to the general election.
Why was this such a big deal? After all, Shepard has worked with Democrats before. And it was no secret that Shepard loathed DeMaio. That he would go in on the campaign to keep DeMaio out of office, no matter who was running, should not have been a surprise.
That Shepard would take such a big risk, however, was a surprise. Shepard knew that DeMaio was a darling of the Republican Party leadership unlike anyone in recent years. Going against him would provoke a ferocious response — and it did, even spawning comparison to the man who betrayed Jesus Christ.
And sure enough, the profiles are pouring in about how Shepard managed to win, managed to preserve his reputation as a “kingmaker” and managed to help a very liberal 70-year-old man beat out a highly organized and well-resourced Republican. In San Diego.
Obviously, there are many reasons Filner won the election. Shepard may have just done enough to keep Filner from drowning himself.
Either way, people love a good hero story.
Roe, in this case, does not.
Roe is the foil in these hero stories about Shepard.
Here’s his quote in the U-T’s new profile of Shepard. Roe thinks Shepard working for Filner was just, well …
“It is so outrageously offensive to me,” Roe said, “for someone who has worked for Republicans their entire career, because he got his ass kicked, to go over to the other team. For me, it’s like a political midlife crisis.”
Snap! He has no soul, he’s got sour grapes and he’s old!
But the better quote is in Investigative Newsource’s dual profile or Roe and Shepard.
In that piece, Roe admits that he and his colleagues knew that DeMaio would advance to the general election. So they deliberately propped up Filner’s primary campaign with strategic ads and mailers meant to remind Democrats that Filner was their guy. They wanted Filner to advance so they would not have to run against Fletcher.
Here’s how Roe put it:
“We got involved in the primary in places to … help Bob Filner run the campaign that he was incapable of running for himself,” Roe said, “to help him get across the finish line.”
That’s right. This guy thinks it’s “offensive” that a political consultant who has worked primarily with Republicans helped Democrat Bob Filner get elected. Yet this guy also helped Bob Filner get elected.
And he’s touting it like some kind of admirable move in a chess match.
Political consultants operate in a pretty offensive world. But they usually acknowledge this.
For Roe to call out a counterpart’s tactical move as offensive on the grounds of it displaying no “ideological soul,” it better be an atrociously cynical move.
Helping Bob Filner get elected may have been atrociously cynical to some Republicans. But Roe and his camp did this, too.
There’s another point to this.
Again, Shepard has represented Democrats in the past. The last one I can think of is Scott Peters in 2004. As Liam Dillon pointed out when Shepard decided to help Filner, Shepard minimizes the importance of the political party on local politics.
But Shepard absolutely represents an ideology, and he does it well. He may be nonpartisan, but not in a hippy-dippy way.
He has a strong coalition of his own: clients, campaigns he’d like to put together in the future, and then, of course, his own vision for San Diego.
You might not like the things he wants to see done. But his coalition is probably just as bad and as good as any other one, including the political parties.
Now, Filner is not part of the Shepard Coalition. But Shepard created one link to Filner that his world did not have. In fact, if the old guard San Diego establishment can take solace in anything, it’s that they have this tenuous connection to Filner.
So I’m not sure what Roe is trying to say other than urge Republicans to stay away from Shepard, because he’s so offensive.
And he’s offensive because he helped get Filner elected.
Ha! As Roe well knows, lots of folks did that.
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