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Though elections by their very nature are deeply partisan exercises, meant to present voters with stark choices, candidates remain bizarrely addicted to demonstrating how not partisan they are, how willing to work with anyone they are in order to get things done.

This willingness is universally presented as a virtue – and though virtually every single candidate up and down the ballot touts their bipartisan bona fides, it’s always characterized as a trait that’s unique and special only to them.

It’s been taken to pretty absurd lengths over the last few weeks.

County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, for example, has for years tried to have it both ways when it comes to her support for President Donald Trump. She’s met with him at the White House and appeared on Fox News defending his behavior – including when he called illegal immigrants animals – but when pressed about how her support for Trump should be viewed in her district, where he’s not popular, she’s waved off those actions by insisting she’ll “work with anyone” to get results.

This week, her campaign consultant sent out a memo trying to reinforce this idea that contradicted itself at every turn.

Just as Trump’s allies this week began re-attacking Hillary Clinton, someone he’s not actually running against, Jason Roe’s memo on behalf of Gaspar attacked Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, someone who is not in her district and not on the ballot.

Despite Gaspar’s cross-country to meet with Trump and her appearances on his behalf, Roe says that Fletcher is acting “in Trumpian fashion, he set aside facts in pursuit of ambition.” When it’s convenient, Trump is either an insult or an asset. Bipartisanship! (The memo, in its effort to drive home how truly bipartisan and willing to work with her colleagues across the aisle Gaspar is, also refers to her actual opponent, Terra Lawson-Remer, as a “radical labor organizer.”)

Over in the San Diego mayor’s race, meanwhile, City Councilwoman Barbara Bry wants to have it both ways by touting the support she’s received from Republicans across San Diego while simultaneously acting outraged that an independent expenditure group supporting Assemblyman Todd Gloria has pointed out that same support.

Bry’s own website proudly boasts her endorsements from Republicans like Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey and Supervisor Dianne Jacob. She even invited some of those Republican supporters to join her for a press conference … denouncing a mailer that played up that support. She objected, she said, to the IE’s “deceptive” strategy of playing up that support only to certain voters. Yet it’s hard to believe Bry was truly offended that an outside group advertised the same endorsements she herself continues to advertise. If you’re truly proud of those politicians’ support, presumably you’re still proud of it when someone else points it out. (If she wasn’t proud of it, why would she send out emails, texts and call a press conference continuing to point it out?)

The American Prospect, a D.C.-based progressive magazine, dipped into the 53rd Congressional District race this week and spoke glowingly of Councilwoman Georgette Gómez’s record, including the time she “was able to bring aboard the city’s Republican mayor to pass compromise affordable housing legislation.” It didn’t mention that the Council has a veto-proof Dem supermajority that should make compromising unnecessary. But, hey, bipartisanship!

If you’re looking for a different message from Gómez’s opponent on this front, however, you won’t find one. She’s proudly touted in TV ads and interviews that voters should elect her because she’ll “work with anyone.”

What VOSD Learned This Week

Scott Lewis lays out what science has taught us about how to open schools (and other stuff) safely. Distance learning has been a challenge for everyone, but it brings particular challenges for English-learners and special education students. Parents of that latter group were alarmed by a recent form San Diego Unified sent out that they believed suggested they were signing away certain rights.

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Democrats might take power over the County Board of Supervisors for the first time in a generation – here’s what they say they’d do with it. Other Democratic pols across the county are struggling over whether to support Prop. 15. And in the Dem-vs.-Dem race for San Diego mayor, Barbara Bry has made the troubled acquisition of one downtown building the centerpiece of her campaign, but has a much different take on the troubled acquisition of another downtown building.

We talked about the weird, brain-bending arguments being sent out in the latest round of political mailers on this week’s podcast.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Harris is given a minute to respond to Pence and says, ‘Whatever the vice president is claiming the administration has done, it clearly hasn’t worked.’ Pence replies, ‘There’s not a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about every American family who has lost a loved one, they are in my thoughts and prayers, where my bad policies and utter inaction can never touch them. I pray every day. Right now, for instance, I’m praying that women lose the right to speak.’” – This is a fake recap of the vice presidential debate. But then again … is it?

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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