Assembly Republican, ex-Republican sell out on tax hikes

Aug. 14, 2012

By John Seiler

Just a couple of months ago Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was being hailed as a new kind of “postpartisan,” “non-ideological,” “bipartisan” politician we need more of in the state Capitol. He had quit the Republican Party after it dissed him during his failed attempt to become mayor of San Diego.

The inimitable tax-obsessive George Skelton wrote in a column, “A telling GOP defection”:

SACRAMENTO — Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher coulda been a contender, to borrow the classic Marlon Brando line from “On the Waterfront.”

He could’ve been somebody.

He still could, conceivably — somebody who wins the prize of high public office, a senator, a governor — but it apparently won’t be while wearing the Republican colors. He tossed them.

We’ll never know, but many believed the San Diego legislator — young, photogenic, articulate, an Iraq combat vet — had the potential to help lead the California GOP out of the darkness, out of its deep funk.

But last week he bolted and became a no-party independent, fed up, he said, with partisan pettiness in the state Capitol.

The analogy doesn’t hold up. In “On the Waterfront,” Brando faced down powerful unions. Fletcher sold out to them.

As my colleague Steven Greenhut reported right here on

“In reality, Fletcher is by no means independent. He was a life-long Republican hack who ditched the party when it rebuked him and endorsed Carl DeMaio [for mayor]….

“Consider that Fletcher had burnished his GOP credentials as he sought the party’s endorsement, but after the party endorsed someone else, he suddenly did some soul-searching and ditched the GOP. So he went from GOP loyalist to Independent in about 5 minutes, political time-wise.

“Fletcher would love to be attacked by conservatives and libertarians — more proof that his martyrdom was for the greater cause of standing up against right-wing extremists, except it’s not true. In reality, Fletcher is simply a self-serving political climber without serious ideas, someone who will seemingly say or do anything to advance his political interests. He touted his Republican credentials when it helped him and now he blames the GOP — which long tolerated his focus-group-tested voting record. He has long been an ally of public-sector unions.”

Voting for a tax increase

Yesterday, Fletcher voted for a tax increase on businesses. Reported the Bee,

“By a razor-thin margin, the California Assembly passed legislation today to raise a billion dollars annually for middle-class college scholarships by altering tax law for numerous out-of-state corporations.”

Of course, the tax increasers say it will “help” California businesses. But this is rank protectionism — attacking businesses in other states — that will suck money from the California economy because its gives businesses another reason to shun doing business here.

The other vote needed to pass the bill was Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert. He has to know that this will not help him in Republican politics.

Supposedly, according to the all-knowing, all-powerful Skelton and others, only Republican “extremists” oppose massive tax increases. In fact, after Proposition 25 dropped to a majority from two-thirds the threshold for passing a budget, the only power Republicans have left in the Legislature is over tax increases. Opposing tax increases is their “brand.” Selling out on tax increases is like New Coke: it’s not going to sell.

The tax increase now goes to the state Senate. Let’s see if any Republicans sell out there.

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