The latest installment of CityBeat's election column, Turds & Blossoms, wherein we rate campaigns and candidates and award them turds or blossoms for their latest foibles and triumphs.
With the help of WikiLeaks, we’re taking a trip across space and time. The first stop: The Philippines, circa 2009. Congressmember Bob Filner is meeting with President Gloria Arroyo, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Defense Undersecretary Antonio Santos. He also accepts the 2009 Gusi international Peace Prize, described as Asia’s answer to the Nobel.
Soon, Filner finds himself at De La Salle University in Manila and seizes control of the white board in an American Studies class. According to a leaked diplomatic cable, he delivered an impromptu lecture on what he called, in a direct quote, “the undemocratic practice of re-districting.”
It’s ironic for Filner to complain about redistricting; the Democrat hasn’t faced a competitive Congressional race in 20 years. Also, isn’t the most egregious example of bad San Diego redistricting named after him?
In an interview, Filner explained his version of events, taking us back to San Diego, circa 1990. After the census, a Democratic majority on the San Diego City Council (on which Filner served) drew new districts that would continue to favor a progressive majority. A recall election later, the council makeup changed and Republicans redrew the maps again to create conservative-friendly districts. But, as a nod to the incumbent, they added the “Filner Finger,” changing the lines by a few blocks to keep Filner’s home in his district. As a result of the shenanigans, voters instituted an independent redistricting commission in 1992.
Why did Filner support the initial redistricting if he’s so opposed to gerrymandering? He says it’s the same reason he takes private campaign donations even though he supports public financing: “I want to change the rules, but you have to play by the rules that exist to be part of the game.”
Filner says that, if elected mayor, he’ll push for a fully independent redistricting commission, one whose final maps don’t depend on a council vote. However, that is already the law, so we’ll hand him a petrified turd for living in yesteryear. But we’ll also give Filner a carnation for addressing the issue and giving us an appreciated history lesson.
Mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, a Republican, has picked up the endorsement of a prominent San Diego Democrat, William Rodriguez-Kennedy. OK, by “prominent,” we really mean loud and a bit hyperactive on social media. And he only became a Democrat last week, having endorsed Fletcher when he was a Republican. Rodriguez-Kennedy, an openly gay veteran who made national headlines when he attempted to reenlist, says he switched parties after Rick Santorum “woke me up.” We’ll award Fletcher a blossom for the support but reserve the right to change our mind the next time Rodriguez-Kennedy does.
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