San Diego mayoral race: Faulconer, Alvarez, Fletcher, Fletcher and Fletcher

This week saw a fun twist in the special election campaign to replace departed pervert Bob Filner as mayor of San Diego. It was the release of a questionnaire that Democratic candidate Nathan Fletcher filled out this month for the San Diego and Imperial Counties' Labor Council as well as the resurfacing of a questionnaire that Fletcher filled out for the San Diego County GOP when he was a Republican mayoral candidate in March 2012. The “growth” Fletcher showed is amazing, and not in a good way.

I wrote about the Fletcher freak show in an editorial for the U-T San Diego that made several key points.

No. 1: This is not a normal U.S. politician party switch

“There are examples of politicians who switched parties and made a credible case that it wasn’t about expedience but about larger circumstances that changed. Many conservative Democrats in Southern states joined the Republican Party in the Reagan years, such as former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. More recently, socially liberal Republicans in the Northeast have shifted to the Democratic Party, such as Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

“Fletcher’s political evolution, however, is one of a kind. He went from being a traditional Republican with a near-reflexive opposition to organized labor and a slight maverick streak, to being a righteous independent who looked down on both parties, to a union Democrat — all in little more than a year.”

No. 2: It's not just party flip; he used to disdain both parties

“In a video posted on YouTube on March 28, 2012, Fletcher said that in a 'decision I’ve been struggling with for sometime,' he’d become a political independent. 'In my heart, it’s what I believe is right … . I’m leaving behind partisan politics (and a) system that is completely dysfunctional.'

“In a March 29, 2012, interview with the U-T San Diego Editorial Board, Fletcher depicted both political parties as deeply flawed. 'I didn’t [become a Democrat] because I think there’s an unwillingness on that side as well to step out and solve problems whether we’re talking about pensions or managed competition or some of these other types of issues,' he said. In shifting from Republican to independent, Fletcher said, 'My positions haven’t changed. My beliefs haven’t changed. My core values haven’t changed.'

“Fourteen months later, Fletcher wrote on Facebook about his realization that his values had changed — in ways that made him comfortable in the Democratic Party. Fourteen months after bragging to Republicans about his hostility to labor unions, he realized his values were those of the party that in California is defined and dominated by unions.”

No. 3: Fletcher still — STILL! — thinks he has moral high ground

” … as strange as this saga is, it gets even stranger: Fletcher and his backers argue that he’s not the cynic — it’s the critics who see a hunt for political advantage in his shape-shifting. Fletcher’s supporters contend it’s 'unfair' to point out that he says things now that are diametrically opposed to things he said 18 months ago.

“But it’s completely fair to note the oddity of what Fletcher calls his 'journey.' To note the gap between his old words and his new words. And to note the slick huckster vanity of his claim to always hold the moral high ground — whether he’s a pro-business Republican, an above-it-all independent or a union Democrat.

“After what San Diegans went through with their last mayor, we hope they are skeptical about all the candidates. But that is especially so about Nathan Fletcher, a politician with the gall to sell spasms of expedience as principled personal growth.”

In the 19th century, academics touted the “Great Man” theory of history, in which one leader of such stature and charisma came along that he lifted a whole nation to a much better place. Given that Fletcher has followers who have stood by him when he was a 90 percent conventional Republican, a pious nonpartisan and a 90 percent conventional Democrat, maybe the “Great Man” theory is having a San Diego revival, just with a guy who hasn't shown greatness.

Or maybe it's just a cult of personality thing. But it's going to be interesting to see if Nathan Fletcher can pull off what he's trying to pull off. And it's going to be depressing if he does.

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