Richard Barrera
San Diego Unified Trustee Richard Barrera / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

A few weeks back, we noted that Richard Barrera, a member of the school board for San Diego Unified School District, was actually going to face an opponent in his re-election race for the first time. It was unclear what that would mean for his prospects of winning endorsements from his former employer, the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, and the Democratic Party Central Committee. Under normal circumstances, both would seem like easy wins for an incumbent.

But his other former employer, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 135, is under new management, and it wants Barrera and allies to know how unwelcome he is in that shop.

Todd Walters, UFCW Local 135’s new president, sent a letter to the county party asking it not to endorse Barrera.

On behalf of UFCW Local 135 and our 12,000 members, I am asking the Democratic Party Central Committee to NOT endorse Richard Barrera. He was the Secretary Treasurer of Local 135 when we got sued by four women. The Local lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in members’ dues money and it’s (sic) reputation. He had a position where he could have spoken out and stopped the abuses, but he did not.

Nonetheless, Barrera got the endorsement. We asked Barrera for his response to the opposition from his former employer:

“I’m honored and grateful that the San Diego County Democratic Party has joined over 6,500 teachers, school nurses and counselors represented by the San Diego Education Association in endorsing my candidacy for reelection to the San Diego Unified School Board,” he said in a written statement.

City Attorney Mara Elliott won the party’s endorsement, too. Elliott suddenly finds herself in a real re-election race, now that attorney Cory Briggs has officially decided to run against her. But Elliott, like Barrera and other incumbents, was up for a friendly endorsement from the local Democratic Party this week. She showed up to defend herself against criticisms from Briggs, and ultimately won the party’s blessing, party chair Will Rodriguez-Kennedy confirmed.

Congressman Can’t Get Dem Club Endorsement

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) speaks at a pro-immigration rally in San Diego in February 2015. / Photo by Liam Dillon

Rep. Juan Vargas, a Democrat, had a rough night at the Democrats for Equality San Diego club endorsement session this week. Vargas has never gotten the club’s endorsement, but he sent a representative to the club this year to try. Club president Ryan Trabuco said Vargas hasn’t had a perfect score on abortion and marriage equality issues in the past.

This year, Trabuco said, Vargas’ questionnaire for the club was perfect on those issues (though they were a little troubled about his take on right-to-die legislation). Former Democratic Party Chairman Jess Durfee said he had been witness to Vargas’ evolution on the issues and asked the club to simply stay out of the race altogether, rather than endorse his opponent.

That was not enough. Vargas got just one of the 45 votes cast.

Aeiramique Glass Blake, an activist running against Vargas, got the overwhelming majority and the endorsement.

They also shunned Kevin Beiser: Despite the scandal that has clouded Kevin Beiser’s remaining term on the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, Beiser has continued to go through the motions of running for City Council in District 7. Democrats for Equality previously called on him to resign from the board but it also voted this week to officially make clear he is not invited to participate in the endorsement process for the City Council race.

Hayek, Out

For years, Ashley Hayek has been one of the most important Republican fundraisers and consultants in San Diego County. She started Golden State Consultants and has raised millions for local candidates and causes, while national campaigns tapped her to help with Southern California donors. She flirted last year with running for the chairmanship of the Republican Party of San Diego County.

“There are some donors who would be interested in seeing some changes,” Hayek told us at the time. “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.’”

The party decided to stay the course with current chairman Tony Krvaric.

Now, Hayek’s leaving to work for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, she announced to friends and colleagues in a recent email. She and her family are moving to Virginia. Albin Soares took over as CEO of Golden State Consultants.

Deuce, Out

In an act of profound public service journalism, Sara Libby pulled together an explainer of the blood feud between Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Rob Schneider, the actor known for his performances in “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” and “Judge Dredd,” which is a good movie, objectively. In it, Libby mentions that Gonzalez’s husband, Nathan Fletcher, challenged Bigalow, er, Schneider, to a debate about vaccines. Friday, Schneider declined.

Looking for a laugh? Check out Roger Ebert’s review of “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.”

Educate the People

The March 2020 presidential primary will be the only chance a California voter has to weigh in on who becomes president. The state’s electoral votes will almost certainly go to the Democrat in November 2020. So, which one?

Spread the word: If you are reading the Voice of San Diego Politics Report, it means you are very important and knowledgeable – a maven of sorts. You have a role in spreading information to those who are not so plugged in.

Voters registered as Republicans will not be allowed to choose between the Democrat presidential candidates. They will only get to choose Trump in the primary (unless a rival survives until then). Voters registered as No Party Preference will have to choose which party primary they want to take part in. And parties have until October to decide whether to allow those independent voters to weigh in. More here.


We woke up this week with a press release from Carl DeMaio saying, “We have a RAT problem.” We assumed he was just calling Democrats names and were rather startled to see he was talking about actual rats. Rodents aren’t usually his thing.

But we weren’t curious enough to actually vet his alarmist message about rats. Then he made it to national news. Politico’s Carla Marinucci caught how it played on Fox News.

Fortunately, the U-T’s Michael Smolens took some time to review the claims. Yes, there’s a fight about legislation that would ban certain rat poisons that have been found to harm mountain lions and other wildlife. DeMaio denied, though, that he was acting on behalf of the companies opposing that ban.

Will Huntsberry contributed reporting to this. If you have any ideas or feedback for the Politics Report, send it to and

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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