The Republican Party of San Diego County tries to enlist new members outside Golden Hall on Dec. 19, 2018. / Photo by Jesse Marx

We had lots of interesting feedback from Andy’s piece this week about the future of the local Republican Party. One that stood out was a note from Ryan Clumpner, one of several consultants featured in the piece. He reacted to this passage about consultant Jason Roe and his work in support of incumbent County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar (emphasis ours):

Roe thinks he found an issue that can provide the party a lifeline. He’s running Gaspar’s re-election bid – likely the race that will determine if the party can hold the board.

An early poll in the district found 28 percent of residents listed roads, traffic and infrastructure as a significant concern. The next highest-rating issue came in at only 15 percent.

Then, a few weeks later, Hasan Ikhrata, director of the regional planning agency SANDAG, proposed shifting remaining funds from TransNet, the voter-approved sales tax for transportation, from highway projects to transit projects.

“I thought, ‘This is a gift,’” Roe said.

Republican political strategist Jason Roe / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Clumpner says he has different polling about transportation.

“I’ve got that issue in single digits, behind homelessness, cost of housing and climate change,” Clumpner told us. He said his polling was regional.

Clumpner donated $100 to Olga Diaz, who is in tough match against fellow Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer and Gaspar in the primary.

It seems like Diaz is looking at similar data: This week in a profile in the Escondido Times-Advocate, Diaz highlighted the three main issues she cares about: 1) Climate change, 2) chronic homelessness and 3) housing in general.

There’s more: Clumpner was also the architect of a stinging defeat for Lawson-Remer. A judge ruled on Christmas Eve that Lawson-Remer could not be designated as an “environmental attorney” on the ballot. She would have to go by “community activist.” Lawson-Remer was a registered attorney in New York but not in California.

Clumpner organized the legal effort and the plaintiffs who sued to challenge the designation. He was working under the PAC Community Voices San Diego. He said nobody funded this particular effort.

Clumpner told us he doesn’t necessarily support Diaz or oppose Gaspar. But he definitely opposes Lawson-Remer.

Businessman Makes Play for D1

This week, a new rent-control law went into effect in California. It limits rent increases to 5 percent plus inflation and ensures tenants can’t be evicted except “for cause.”

That means, for San Diego, landlords can’t raise rents more than 7.2 percent this year. That’s also retroactive to March 15, 2019. So any larger increases since then were violations of the new law.

There is one new candidate making a stir in San Diego City Council’s District 1 race who is directly impacted by this: Sam Nejabat.

Nejabat is in the multi-family residential acquisition business. He told us he owns more than 100 apartments.

What does he think of the law?

“It has some strong renters protections and seems like a fair compromise at 5 percent plus inflation,” Nejabat told us when we caught up with him while he was walking the district, which comprises La Jolla, Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley.

Nejabat was born and raised in San Diego after his family fled Iran in 1979. He went on to Berkeley and later graduate school at Dartmouth. Then he worked for President Barack Obama in the Office of Presidential Correspondence – part of the team, he said that helped sift through the mountains of letters the president would get and help him respond to 10 or so each day as examples of the nation’s sentiment.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Nejabat to the Del Mar Fairgrounds board, and now he’s got an itch for more.

“I just wanted to give back to the city that game my family and me everything and so much opportunity,” he said.

The District 1 race is packed. Along with Nejabat, longtime consultant and neighborhood activist Joe LaCava, attorney Will Moore, firefighter Aaron Brennan, tech exec Harid Puentes, attorney James Rudolph, entrepreneur Lijun Zhou and Louis Rodolico have all qualified for the ballot.

Ballots Get Sent Out in Four Weeks!

That’s all.

Gonzalez Still Fighting for AB 5

Our podcast and the Sacramento Report this week include a lot of discussion of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzelez’s ongoing fight to defend AB 5, the law that defines which workers can be independent contractors.

She was also in The New York Times this week talking about the fight (most of the photos seem like they were taken by freelancers!) and we couldn’t help but chuckle at this line: Ms. Gonzalez, a progressive Democrat, has in recent weeks become a fierce Twitter presence pushing back at critics, sometimes with profanity.

“In recent weeks …” lol

While her occasional profanity is entertaining and longstanding, it’s her interactions with her daughter, Tierra Gonzalez, which make her Twitter the best.

A sample from this week.

Tierra: I want to be covered in tattoos! But I don’t want to experience the awkward point between not covered and totally covered! I’m going to get 17 tattoos at one time! Help me reach this goal (links to her Venmo account).

Lorena: Please stop.

More on the Dem Party’s Sprawl Split

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Two weeks ago, we made a big deal about the San Diego County Democratic Party decision to oppose Measure A, which would force housing projects not already in the county’s general plan to a politically and financially daunting countywide vote.

Since then we’ve learned a bit more about it. First, the decision came by the thinnest of margins.

Cody Petterson, president of the San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, who has been heavily involved in the “Yes on A” campaign, walked us through how his side came up just short. (Party Chairman Will Rodriguez-Kennedy walked us through the winning side’s view, arguing it wasn’t a vote for sprawl, but one against exclusionary development and ballot-box planning).

“I would say there were several factors,” Petterson said. “The endorsement won by just one vote, so it’s hard to say how or why it happened. If any one vote didn’t happen, it could have gone the other way.”

Fletcher loomed large: Before the party’s vote, the “No on A” campaign announced a slew of endorsements from Democrats and affordable housing advocates. Petterson said one of those figures – County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who announced his position a little while back on the Voice of San Diego podcast – had a big impact.

Petterson said he believes Fletcher would vote against all, or nearly all, of the projects imperiled by Measure A, and takes him at his word that his position stems from opposition to direct democracy.

“But his endorsement of ‘no’ was absolutely one of the decisive factors,” he said. “If people on the central committee hadn’t thought that Nathan gave them license, it would have peeled off a few votes.”

An effective advocate for “no”: Petterson and Rodriguez-Kennedy both said that the “no” side’s most effective advocate was Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, a prominent tenants’ rights lawyer, who argued that by constraining development, especially apartment construction, Measure A would effectively exclude working people and communities of color.

Petterson agreed that suburban, single-family development excludes the multifamily development that disproportionately houses working people and communities of color, but said that’s not relevant on this measure because the county general plan makes way for that type of growth in strategic areas. Now the region needs to focus on mandating and funding affordable housing in those areas so it’s near transit and services, rather than isolated in new, far-flung developments.

“(Ijadi-Maghsoodi) was a major element of it,” he said. “People are busy – they rely on calls from committed people, or to what they hear in the debate in front of them. They’re vulnerable to arguments like ‘smart growth planning is modern redlining.’”

Enviros need more sway: There just weren’t enough winnable votes on the central committee, Petterson argued.

“You don’t whip votes by arguing details. You whip votes by having a pre-existing relationship with people, and then leveraging that relationship so that they say, ‘I know this person, and I know it’s someone I can trust on environmental issues, or on LGBT issues.”

In other words, they lost by not being better-positioned.

“We environmentalists need to take responsibility for not having built that power to make those calls and whip those votes,” he said.

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Scott Lewis

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

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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