I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Mike Aguirre must have been born under a lucky star. Which will serve him well through June though it might go into eclipse by November.
The City Council doesn’t like him, the entrenched city bureaucrats don’t like him, the city labor unions don’t like him, the cops don’t like him, the Chargers want him to fall in the bay (right in front of where they’d like that new, downtown stadium, if possible, the Union Trib loathes him, the Mayor is sticking pins into his little Mikey voodoo doll and the public has become progressively less enamored with him. (Rumors that his dog has declared “undecided” in a recent poll appear unfounded—I don’t think he has a dog. I do hear that his fish is looking at him with suspicion, however….)
And a recent Competitive Edge poll (the local gold standard on the public pulse) shows Mike Agonistes losing to all three of his major competitors: Judge Jan, President Peters and, well, Brian Maienschein—a guy so blandly nice that its hard to even come up with a handle for him. (Note to self: Call W on this one. He’s always got a good nickname or two…) Goldsmith beats him by 23 points, the other two by less than half that.
Conventional wisdom has Agonizing Mike surviving the June primary with maybe 25% of the vote, enough to win in a field divided between Aguirre and everybody running as “Not Aguirre.” But then he goes bye-bye come the November big show.
Not so fast. The assumption here is that those who will vote for different candidates to replace Aguirre June will rally around the second place winner in the fall—which, according to the CE poll, seems to be how likely voters are currently thinking.
But likely voters are still seeing June as a race between Aguirre and his competitors. It’s not. The race is now between Goldsmith, Peters and Maienschein. And, according to the CE poll, Goldsmith is in the lead in the race for second—but not so far out in front (17.6% to Peters 14.2% to Maienschein’s 9.5%) that he’s a juggernaut. With attorney Dan Coffey dropping out of the race and endorsing Peters, if his 2.1% of supporters throw in with Prez Peters he and Goldsmith are almost tied.
Had Jan Goldsmith been allowed to challenge Mike Aguirre Mano-a-Mano without the other wanna-be Mike whackers piling on Aguirre’s plight would have been dire indeed. Given the abysmally low voter-turnout likely in June—consequence of the early March Prez Primary—which would favor a more conservative candidate like Goldsmith, Aguirre might have been turned into a lame duck before the June Gloom had cleared.
But it’s not. Peters and Maienschein, both realizing their paycheck ends this year, decided a) they didn’t like Aguirre enough to run; and b) they might be able to beat him. (And, if either was the only candidate against Aguirre in June, they might have—though Peters was and is clearly the more logical City Council candidate to take vengeance on Menacing Mikey.)
So now if either hopes to advance to the title bout in November they have one job: convince the anti-Aguirre voters that “Mr. Ferret” (as a Republican assemblyman Goldsmith’s major accomplishment was to unsuccessfully push a bill to legalize the private ownership of the furry little rodents) is not the guy to take on Mauling Mike. That means they have to aim their energies at making Goldsmith look bad.
For both Peters and Maienschein this means showing San Diego voters that Goldsmith is a) an outsider originally from Poway (where he was Mayor) and who had to move his residency from Coronado to Little Italy so as not to appear the carpet-bagger he is); b) that Goldsmith is an outsider from Poway (where he was Mayor) and who had to move his residency from Coronado to Little Italy so as not to appear the carpet-bagger he is) who has had almost no experience in local San Diego City politics; and c) that Goldsmith is an outsider from Poway (where he was Mayor) and who had to move his residency from Coronado to Little Italy so as not to appear the carpet-bagger he is) has the worst hair in San Diego politics. Peters can also throw in that, being a Democrat, he is the safe Democratic alternative to Aguirre compared to the other two Republicans.
Goldsmith, meanwhile, is taking the high road of running against Aguirre as the generic establishment candidate. But if he doesn’t pay attention he could well be pulled down by the hounds of ambition nipping at his heels. Which could yield the unusual result of having two Democrats running in a City-wide general election for a higher office—Peters and Aguirre. Which, also, could also be the best chance for anti-Aguirreistas to remove him from office.
Come fall the political landscape changes dramatically. Especially if Barrack Obama is the candidate. Come November the combination of an energized Democratic base (and the city is now majority Democratic in registration) and depressed Republicans base (at least conservatives, of which San Diego has more than its share) uninspired by their party nominee could translate into a surge of voters more inclined to go Mikey should he be running against establishment Republican Goldsmith. If Peters is the opponent it becomes much murkier.
And, probably, nastier, as all the city’s dirty political laundry gets recycled yet again.
My money (all $7.39—don’t let my kids know or they’ll raid Dad’s wallet…) is that Aguirre survives into a second term by another narrow margin.