National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis speaks at a press conference in June 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This week, the executive board of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council voted to endorse Jose Rodriguez for mayor of National City and oppose Alejandra Sotelo-Solis’ re-election.

The endorsement is not final. The Labor Council still needs to vote as a whole, but the crack staff at the Politics Report heard the support for Rodriguez was overwhelming.

Why it matters: The National City mayoral election won’t take place until November when all candidates will be on the ballot including Sotelo-Solis, Rodriguez and former Mayor Ron Morrison. Sotelo-Solis, though, has had labor support before. The board’s vote alone indicates that something has changed. National City is going through something of a boom with demand for development strong and politics roiling.

There’s some money to spend and things are changing fast. Morrison used to run SANDAG’s board of directors and Sotelo-Solis is in line to do that too. So where did she lose labor? (She does have the support of the carpenters union.)

The reasons: The Labor Council’s leader, Secretary-Treasurer Brigette Browning didn’t get back to us, perhaps because the vote is tentative. But SEIU 221, the union that represents 130 National City workers, chose not to endorse Sotelo-Solis as well, though they declined to pick a preferred alternative. They said among a few concerns, they were upset that the city manager, Brad Raulston, had not lost his job when dozens of employees and two City Councilmembers tried to oust him late last year.

“We believe it’s time to bring in a new City Manager in National City that will focus on recruiting and retaining employees and providing great services.  Our focus for the November election is going to be sharing why the current City Manager has lost our trust as a partner and to educate voters on where each candidate stands,” said Crystal Irving, president of SEIU 221.

Sotelo-Solis cast one of the three votes that saved Raulston his job. (One thing members of a city council usually try to avoid is mounting an effort to fire a city manager and coming up short. Kind of a “come for the king you better not miss” kind of thing. City managers run their cities and you may not get things you want if you’re on the side that doesn’t want him.)

She said Raulston was one of the main reasons employees had gotten special stipends and pay raises and been instrumental in what she and the City Council have tried to do.

Jose Rodriguez, her Democratic opponent in the mayor’s race, and the candidate the Labor Council appears inclined to support, was one of the two votes to oust Raulston. He said dozens of employees, the Labor Council, the Environmental Health Coalition and many others had asked for Raulston to be replaced and he couldn’t ignore them.

Rodriguez worked for labor unions before being elected. He said the city doesn’t run well, has neglected parks and takes too long to issue permits.

“The building department is severely understaffed and overworked and it takes way too long to review and get back to people. In the development world and in everyday people’s view, it’s counterproductive as we try to reach our housing goals,” Rodriguez said.

Counterpoint: Sotelo-Solis said she is surprised Rodriguez wanted to run against her and that the Labor Council may oppose her. She said she she’s always been “a labor candidate from a labor family.”

But then she had words for Rodriguez.

“When you have a very strong, progressive Latina as mayor, who has made significant change in the community and even from the perspective countywide, it makes me wonder why another Democrat would run and potentially split the vote and put in a Republican. It sounds a little Trump-like,” she said.

The Republican is Ron Morrison.

Rodriguez pointed out Morrison has beaten Sotelo-Solis in races before.

The Lincoln Club Wants Democrats to Know Their Preferred Sheriff is a True Liberal

Photos courtesy of Dave Myers and Kelly Martinez

The conservative Lincoln Club this week sent a funny piece of mail to reliable Democratic voters.

A new mail piece from the law-and-order and gun-right-supporting group, which backs Kelly Martinez for sheriff, emphasized to liberal voters that Martinez supports “common sense gun safety measures,” and that she’s supported by leaders within the Democratic Party.

Dave Myers, the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party who they do not support, meanwhile, they emphasized was “a proud supporter of gun rights.”

The mail piece was perhaps the most aggressive example we’ve yet seen of a “wrong universe” attack. It’s when a very clever political consultant portrays a candidate in such a way that would be attractive to one group of voters, but sends the piece to the opposite group of voters — or the “wrong universe” of voters.

One way to think of the idea is that voters who are turned off by negative mail could be more likely to absorb the message the consultant wants to convey if it seems like it’s supposed to be a positive message, but it just so happened to go to the wrong person. Then, a voter who supports gun control will learn that Martinez is their candidate. Or something. As you can tell, it’s always seemed to us like an eyes-closed bank shot when a simple layup would have been worth the same two points.

But the mailer had one other noteworthy item: The Lincoln Club – which, again, was trying to tell voters that Myers was not their guy – used a Voice of San Diego headline to suggest Myers was a Republican.

That headline, though, referred to John Hemmerling, who runs the criminal division for the San Diego city attorney, after he re-joined the Republican Party and received its nomination.

But no one would ever know that from the mail piece. It just uses our logo and the headline – Sheriff Could be a Republican After All – underneath a photo of Myers. Any reasonable person would conclude the story was about Myers. It wasn’t.

Dirty pool.

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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