In an utterly surprising move (except for the last six months of hints and innuendo) politician-turned-businessman-turned wanna be a politician again Steve “Have Millions, Will Run” Francis has thrown his hat (and checkbook) into the Mayoral ring.
While it might seem odd for a Republican to enter a race to defeat a still largely popular incumbent fellow Republican who has already beaten said Republican once before one must remember that:
a) This is California where Republicans seem to take great joy in devouring their own;
b) This is San Diego where the only people to run for Mayor are either Republicans or Donna Frye; and
c) Hope springs eternal.
Actually, Francis is better positioned to challenge Sanders than conventional wisdom might hold. First, Sanders has, as Francis said when he announced his candidacy, fallen far short on all of his 2005 campaign promises. Second, while Sanders has remained popular, he has so far had no real competition for popularity from either a lackluster City Council or even a popular but much maligned City Attorney. Show San Diegans a new (OK, retreaded, if you will) face as a choice and Sanders popularity may dwindle. Third, even though conventional wisdom (my own included) held the City’s response to the great fires of ’07 made Sanders fireproof for the next election, as the truth behind the inadequacies of City preparation for responding to such a next, great fire have emerged, much of Sanders’ political Asbestos has been shredded.
In short, Sanders is vulnerable and Francis realized it. And, indeed, as long as no Democrat in town demonstrates the huevos rancheros to actually run against a vulnerable Republican incumbent, Francis (as both the UT and the Voice of San Diego have pointed out) can outflank Sanders from the left as a Obama/Donna Frye style populist and from the right as a social conservative.
Of course, how long Francis can slice the political salami both ways is problematic. At some point, no matter how much he says Donna Frye would have been a better Mayor than Jerry Sanders, Francis’ positions on Unions (don’t like ‘em) City Government (way too big) and social issues (endorsing gay marriage is a boo-boo) will probably catch up with him and the choice come June will between a nice but incompetent moderate and a trying to be nicer, competent conservative.
That is, for the ten thousandth time, unless Democrats wake up and smell the electoral bacon.
Meanwhile I found it fascinating that Francis went out of his way when he appeared on the Roger Hedgecock Show Tuesday to endorse Mike Aguirre and his much belittled pension lawsuits. Stevo basically said that, until the last fat judge sings, Aguirre should continue all legal avenues available to role back illegal pension benefits. This after the conservative bastion of record and much of the city council has spent the last year blasting Aguirre for wasting money on such frivolous lawsuits. Which, of course, immediately reigns down on Francis the wrath of Aguirre don’t-likers but which also helps to position him as a for-the-people-against-the-establishment populist like Mauling Mike.
If you thought a Sanders/Aguirre axis was the ultimate odd couple just wait. You ain’t seen nuthin’ until the Mike and Steve show hit the political road.
And you thought only national politics could be this twistedly interesting!
(PS: Note to Roger H. Dude, I know you have a schtick that has worked for years – keep hammering on the same old themes of evil unions, incompetent city government, loony liberals, nefarious illegal immigrants, overly starched underwear, et. al. But do you always have to use that whinny voice –you know the one, the faux-effeminate, speak with a lisp and disparage the people you disagree with by making them seem gay—you use whenever you slam someone with a position you don’t approve of? “Oh those liberalths. They wan to thave the treeths, be nicer to the illegal alienths” That kind of thing. I though most people grew out of using thinly–veiled gay-bashing to disparage other people back in middle school PE. Sure, Rush Limbaugh does the same thing regularly but he’s a moron, after all. So from now on, how about dropping that lisp. Unless you basically believe your audience is predominantly a bunch of junior high maturity level troglodytes. Just a friendly suggestion.)