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Last week, we had an update on the future of the Republican Party of San Diego County. It was unclear who would be chair of the party months after current Chairman Tony Krvaric announced he would not run for re-election.
But this week, Krvaric flipped. He is sticking around after all — at least he would try to be re-elected, which seemed like a sure thing if he wanted it.
This time, though, he may end up getting paid.
We confirmed that the executive committee of the party met last week and discussed a new compensation package for the chair that would be worth $15,000 per month in election years and $10,000 per month on off years. That’s a $180,000 salary on election years — a significant executive salary.
The committee didn’t make that deal official. It’s just a range and an idea right now. But it seems to have legs. The Republicans will set their budget next year. The party had $731,277 in cash on hand as of Oct. 20 this year.
Krvaric will stand for election among the Central Committee officers Monday, Dec. 10.
We heard this week that one potential rival to Krvaric had expressed interest in running the party: Ashley Hayek, probably the most prominent fundraiser for conservative causes and candidates in San Diego.
But she is not a member of the Central Committee. She would have to be appointed to even have a chance to run. And she said she thinks Krvaric has done a good job.
“There are some donors who would be interested in seeing some changes,” Hayek told us. “I don’t think anyone would look at what happened in the election and say, ‘Everything is great and we should do exactly what we have been doing.’”
But she said she didn’t think there was evidence that fundraising was particularly bad. She pointed to the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner, which this spring brought in more money than ever before.
She did reiterate her qualifications, though.
“I’ve been very successful. I know how to run a business. I want to make a difference,” she said. “But the last thing I would want to do is undermine our chairman. If he wants to continue being chairman, he should.”
And, about pay: “I don’t think a chair person should be paid that amount. It’s unprecedented and too much,” Hayek said.
And on the Dem Side, a Contest Brews
San Diego’s Democratic Party is also getting ready to select a new leader.
Current party chair Jessica Hayes’ term is up and she decided not to seek another. Two contenders are vying for the job, with the party’s central committee set to select its new chair on Jan. 29.
The contenders: Will Rodriguez-Kennedy is president of the California Young Democrats, and president of the San Diego Democrats for Equality, the largest and one of the most influential Democratic groups in the county.
He’s running against Craig Roberts, a Central Committee member, longtime party activist and former former chair of the National Stonewall Democrats.
The winner will steer the party to 2020, with the San Diego mayor’s office, two County Board of Supervisors seats and two competitive congressional races on the ballot.
But he’ll also be left to build a direction and message for a party that has had a voter registration advantage in the county that for years did not translate into electoral victories – though that may be changing, if last month’s results were any indication.
We talked to both about how they’d handle those tasks.
Settling party infighting: The Democrats had a great year when it came to winning races, but it ran into some problems.
In two Democrat-versus-Democrat City Council races, the party endorsed one candidate and threw some punches at the other. In District 8, a party-controlled Facebook account called Vivian Moreno – who won without party support – “the choice of Trump Republicans.” In District 4, the party supported Council President Myrtle Cole’s re-election bid despite widespread grassroots opposition, leading a community group to demand the party “stand down.” Monica Montgomery won in a rout. The primary in the county supervisor’s race got messy too, with multiple Democratic candidates thinking they didn’t get a fair shake from the party.
Roberts said the prevalence of Democrat-versus-Democrat races is a testament to the party’s success. “It’s cool to be a Democrat now, and so we’ll see more of these races.”
He said the party needs to enact a clear rule to handle those races.
“We should have a policy to positively support our endorsed candidates” he said. “I’m not willing to say what that policy should be now, because it should be crafted by membership.”
Rodriguez-Kennedy said the party needs to rebuild a sense of solidarity around issues, not personalities.
The problems in D4 and D8, he said, were symptomatic of one problem he intends to solve: revitalizing the party’s brand.
“In both scenarios, the party made decisions against a growing reality on the ground,” he said. “We missed that groundswell because we aren’t paying enough attention to these communities on the ground.”
The party, he said, focused heavily on an anti-Trump message this cycle. It needs to instead embed itself in town councils and other local groups to get an early warning about what’s happening in communities.
“If you have someone on the ground listening to what’s happening at town councils, we would know that that the council member is losing the community; it’s like intelligence from a military perspective, that helps you make better decisions,” he said.
Taking the next step: Roberts, an engineer at General Atomics, said the party is on an upward trajectory that the next leader needs to continue.
“When you’re an engineer, you’re all about solving problems,” he said. “That’s why I’m a Democrat, we believe and want to solve problems to improve people’s lives. Our county Democratic Party needs to keep trying to solve problems.”
He said a focus would be continuing to infuse the party with youth by focusing on voter registration, and nurture the passion of all the young people who flocked to the party within the last two years.
“I want to mentor those young Democrats, because that’s what I received over the last 25 years of activism at the local, state and national level.”
Rodriguez-Kennedy said he’s focused on three steps for the party: rebuilding a sense of solidarity, revitalizing the party’s brand by connecting to communities and “modernizing our coalition.”
“The next level is to embrace the diversity of our party,” he said. “It’s been a while since the party was represented by someone of color or under 50. We need leadership that is bold and charismatic and can elegantly state our values to voters.”
He said the party needs to better engage underrepresented communities, and less populated communities, so that it can extend victories to the northern and eastern parts of the county.
SDSU, City Negotiations
One of the most influential San Diego residents these days is Adam Day. Not only is he the chief administrative officer of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and its casino holdings, he’s the chair of the Board of Trustees of California State University. The CSU system will be the entity to purchase the Mission Valley land from the city of San Diego, if those negotiations end happily after the victory of Measure G, which mandated such a sale.
One of the thorniest issues the city and SDSU face is just how much that land is worth. The university and its supporters pledged, and wrote into Measure G, that the land would be purchased for fair market value.
The supporters of Measure E, SoccerCity, had agreed to an appraisal of the land at $83 million. Others have made the case that the land is worth much less because of how much work it needs. San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman wrote in a commentary in the Union-Tribune that “unfortunately, rumors are already swirling around City Hall of plans to sell the property at less than market value and possibly give it away for free.”
Day emphatically denied that was a possibility. “I’m not expecting that, and the university is not expecting that,” he said.
He went on: “While I have a fiduciary responsibility to the system as a whole, I am also a taxpayer and I recognize the city has to get the best deal possible,” he said.
Day has a history with the valuation of this land. He co-chaired the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group Mayor Kevin Faulconer set up in 2005.
In that group’s final report, it valued just 75 acres of the Qualcomm land at $225 million.
We asked him whether he thought that was still relevant. He said he’d have to go back and look at what it was based on.
“Our report was really a report from a moment in time,” he said.
We won’t hold him to that report too much though because we, well, we mocked the flimsy case the report made for how it got to that number. But at the time, Day was very confident the city could sell just about half the stadium land for $225 million.
“We believe that’s a conservative number,” he said at the May 2015 press conference when the report was released.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Roberts’ position with the National Stonewall Democrats. He is a former chair.
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