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Congressman Bob Filner on the General Election

June 6, 2012 1:59 p.m.

Congressman Bob Filner, candidate for mayor of San Diego.

Related Story: Bob Filner Says He Will Ask For Nathan Fletcher's Endorsement

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Wednesday, June†6th. Our top story on Midday Edition, the votes have been cast, the results are in for the primary election in San Diego. Many of the pundits in the polls were right. Now we have a much clearer idea about how the campaigns will be shaping up toward the general election in November. Mesa†College political science professor, Carl Luna will be helping us work through the numbers and results for the next hour. Welcome back to the show.
LUNA: Nice to be back.
CAVANAUGH: What was your overall impression of the primary results?
LUNA: It was a lot of more interesting races. The turnout was relatively low, and the mayor's race you actually did get Bob Filner come in second placement
CAVANAUGH: We want to talk about the San Diego mayor's race first. And we did invite the top vote getting, Carl DeMaio, to join us. He was not able to be here or to join us on the phone. And that's how you can really tell it's the day after election, when a politician doesn't come on your show.
[ LAUGHTER ]

CAVANAUGH: Now, the polls predicted he would get the highest percentage of the vote. 32% of the vote. But one of the things I've noticed over the last two polling cycles is that DeMaio's numbers didn't seem to move, he seemed to stagnate at around 32% of the vote.
LUNA: That's probably why he has the most to be happy about today, prop B passed, prop A passed. He also has a lot to worry about though because he hit's ceiling of the low 30s. Now, the question, can he grab some of those votes become in November?
CAVANAUGH: Many predicted that the candidate that DeMaio wanted to run against was Bob Filner because of a deluge of negative ads against Nathan Fletcher. He seems to believe that he can beat Bob Filner. Why would a politician, because you're a political scientist, in this position think that?
LUNA: You're looking for a partisan divide. I was just seeing a survey in the Pew Research Center poll, this is the most partisan age we've been in in the last 50 years. Clear distinction, Republican, Democrat, San Diego has a reputation of being a Republican town even though that's shifting. You get your base out, you win in November. Filner showed he can close a deal.
CAVANAUGH: Is the idea that Nathan Fletcher had a significant percentage of the vote, Dumanis took a percentage of the vote, is the idea that the DeMaio campaign is operation under that those votes are automatically going to him?
LUNA: I would quibble with that. When Fletcher went up 15 points in the poll, that's when he left the Republican party. I don't think half that support is gone go over to Carl DeMaio. Dumanis has liberal support, particularly, in the guy lesbian community which is not going to go to DeMaio. So Filner will pick up the rest, and it's all about turnout in November.
CAVANAUGH: Let's move on from DeMaio being the top vote getter. On the phone with us now is San Diego county registrar of voters, Deborah Sylar. Thanks so much for joining us the day after that very busy night for you.
SYLAR: You're so welcome, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: What was the percentage of turnout?
SYLAR: Well, it's not determined entirely yet. As of last night, it was about a 27% turnout. But we still have about 135,000 ballots yet to put into the count. So when all is told, I think that the turnout percentage will probably be closer to about 36, 37%.
CAVANAUGH: You expect it to jump up that much with the mail-ins?
SYLAR: Yes. We had quite's few meg and provisional ballots that were turned in yesterday, some that came in through the U.S. postal service yesterday morning. All of that still has to go into the count.
LUNA: It's nice to know the turnout was bad and not abysmal.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, exactly. You were saying about 30%, right?
LUNA: Somewhere in the low 30s would would normally be this. I'm glad it's above.
CAVANAUGH: Deborah, I know that you had some problems last night with the website crashing again. What is going on with that? Is it just that so many people get on your site to see those early election results?
SYLAR: Well, Maureen, I think we're still trying to figure that out. Our technical services provider, Hewlett-Packard, is still looking into that, and I think we'll probably have a report here very shortly. But it did go down for about an hour and a half. The problem was not with our ballot tabulation system. That was working just fine. And we were able to produce results. It was just that, yes, you're right, we could not post them to the web for about an hour and a half.
CAVANAUGH: Now, were there any problems with the new ballots? With the new top-two primary ballots?
SYLAR: Not really that I could tell. In every primary, we have voters who tend to be a little bit careless in their voting, they either intentionally overvote, we saw a tremendous amount of write had ins, Donald duck. I don't know whether that is a reflection that people just aren't as serious in a primary election. I think that tends to be the case. But I don't think it was really confusion about the top-two.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. When I saw my ballot, I was wondering, we have gone through it, and so forth, and I was a little taken aback by actually by the way it looked.
LUNA: Like on the U.S. Senate race with Diane Feinstein, if you wanted to find her name, you had to look way in. And I think there was another Diane above it. And you had to dig through all of that. And some of the local races, there was just a couple of names. I don't think it caused that much more voter confusion than you usually have. But conversely, it doesn't look like this idea of the open primary really boosted turnout the way it was hope.
CAVANAUGH: Is that one of the things that the open primary was supposed to do?
LUNA: If you have an open primary, independents can come in and easily vote, and they'd show up. But once again, the independents didn't show up as much.
CAVANAUGH: Deborah, did you hear about any problems with the ballots at the polling places? People asking workers what was going on with the new ballots?
SYLAR: No, we really didn't. I think that that went very smoothly. Only in a couple of places was there some confusion about the ballot issuance. But I do agree with Carl about that U.S. Senate race. And I think part of the problem is because the statute that was enacted requires us to print party preference, and then the party for each name. And I think that made it more difficult to pick out the names. So I would agree with Carl very much on that U.S. Senate contest.
CAVANAUGH: Did you encounter any problems at the polling places?
SYLAR: No, it was actually pretty quiet. Always there are a few complaints, and we did have some complaints about a couple of poll workers who always seemed to misunderstand the fact that ID is not required, and so as soon as those complaints come into us, we immediately contact the precinct workers and say that they're not supposed to be asking for that. I think part of the confusion there is that so many people come in, and they show their sample ballot almost as a form of ID. And I think that throws them off. But there were very few reports of that.
CAVANAUGH: I see. So some poll workers did ask for ID?
SYLAR: Yes, they did.
CAVANAUGH: How are the primary races different for which your office than general elections? Is there more work involved?
SYLAR: Well, in some respects, there's more work involved because we have not only the top-two contest, but we also have separate party ballots because of the presidential contest. And so for us, it's the combination of the relatively closed presidential primary, then the generic open part of the primary. So yes, we do have more work in preparing all of those ballots. And because some of the parties allow voters to close over, we have to try to guess how many of those nonpartisan voters are going to come into the polling place and ask for either a democratic or American independent party ballot. We have no way of knowing what percentage of those voters will ask for that ballot.
CAVANAUGH: When do you start gearing up for the general?
SYLAR: We've already started. We're already preparing calendars, we're fielding questions, and the actual candidate filing period will start next month.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you very much taking time out this morning, I know that last night was very busy for you.
SYLAR: You're very welcome.
CAVANAUGH: In the studio with us now is Bob Filner, welcome and thank you for coming in after a long night last night.
FILNER: Well, it was a short night. We didn't get a lot of sleep. But it's a real honor to be in the mayor's runoff for the eighth biggest city in the country. It's an awesome responsibility, and I feel humbled by being here.
CAVANAUGH: Your 30% of the vote was higher than the polls predicted. Why do you think that is?
FILNER: Well, I think people finally figured out that I'm the most well-qualified and well-prepared candidate for mayor that's probably ever run in this city. These issues are tough issues, don't care if they're the pension or jobs or the environment. Whatever it is, it needs someone who knows the complexity of these issues. I've served a term on the School Board, I was elected twice to the City Council, ten times to Congress including chairman of the veterans' affairs committee. So I have the background and experience. But I also have a vision. And I'm asking San Diegans to dream about the future, about what we want. And I can help turn those dreams into reality.
CAVANAUGH: Is it part of the fact that you did better than the polls suggested, that the fact that you amped things up in the final weeks of the race? There was some talk, you know, as you know, in the beginning of the race that perhaps you weren't taking the race seriously enough. That seemed to change about a month ago. So how has your campaign style changed?
FILNER: Well, we campaigned maybe a different way than the media saw. You can't argue with success. You know, I won the election. I've run 25 elections in San Diego. I think we know how to do it. We were going door to door, and on the phone identifying voters the whole time that people must have thought we weren't doing anything. I have decades of working with people. I can't go a block in San Diego without someone coming up to me and saying you helped me with this immigration problem or you were at my son's graduation and gave him his diploma. Those kinds of things are not seen by the media or anybody else. And that's I think my secret weapon. These years of service to our community.
CAVANAUGH: A lot of people were kind of confused in getting a nonendorsement endorsement phone call from governor Jerry Brown, fellow Democrat, for Nathan Fletcher. What was that about?
FILNER: I wish I knew. Maybe Carl can explain the psyche of the governor of California.
LUNA: I didn't try in the 70s, and I'm not trying today.
CAVANAUGH: What is your plan to win over those voters?
FILNER: Well, the plan is to talk common sense of the these are voters who I don't think are ideological. These are voters who aren't tied to one party or the other. And as they say, and Carl knows this, pot holes know no party. But if I have a plan for job, environmental quality, neighborhood revitalization, and shifting power to the neighborhoods, those aren't partisan issues. I'm going to try to bring these issues to the public without a label, Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal. These are common sense issues. And even in the pension situation where I did not favor proposition B, it passed, but I think there'll be so much litigation when I'm mayor I'll be able to do a lot of things to improve the situation. And I say to people, look, if you had a home mortgage for 8%, and you had a chance to refinance your loan for 4%, you'd be silly not to. And yet that's what the city can do now. The mayor has helped to create some stability. We have a bond rating. And yet I'm being charged with some -- I don't know, some liberal kind of spending and crazy thing. I'm only refinancing a debt at a lower interest rate because we have the lowest interest rates in the history of our country. Let's do the smart thing.
CAVANAUGH: The primary campaign is over. Do you take a break? When do you start to gear up for the general election in November?
FILNER: Well, we've already started gearing up. I've had two debates already with Mr. DeMaio. I'll probably take a few days off, then you have to get right back into it. We have about 150 days or something till the election. And I'd like Carl maybe to comment on this, I think there's going to be national attention focused on this race. This is a city which has been traditionally Republican, has not had a one -- one democratic mayor in 40 years. There's two different candidates who have very different visions of the way the city goes, the function of government in society, the way that our -- that people in our community relate to each other, and to the economic and political power of our city. I think people are going to look at this nationally, and especially since my own contacts where, let's say, the White House or the previous White Houses will be able to get people in here to campaign have a national kind of attention that I think mayor's race generally does not have.
CAVANAUGH: Let me have Carl Luna have the last word in this segment to respond to what Congressman Filner is saying. Do you think this is going to rise to the level of national coverage?
LUNA: Oh, I think it will. Already prop B's passage is being associated with Scott walker in Wisconsin. We're entering an age when the difference between national and local politics is disappears with so much money that is out there, sloshing about, and you're going to see money pouring into the mayor's race, into the 52nd congressional district, and San Diego is it a swing city, and both parties are going to try to make it swing their way.
CAVANAUGH: Congressman Filner, congratulations for last night. And coming up after the break Carl Luna will stay with us as we talk about what's next now that San Diego City propositions A and B have been approved by voters, and we'll talk to the winners in the 52nd congressional race.