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Roundtable: Democrats Clean Up. So What Happens Now?

November 9, 2012 1:01 p.m.


Michael Smolens, U-T San Diego

Christopher Cadelago, U-T San Diego

Katie Orr, KPBS News Metro Reporter

Alison St. John, KPBS News North County Reorter

Related Story: Roundtable: Democrats Clean Up. So What Happens Now?


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.

SAUER: Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us. Katie Orr, metro reporter for KPBS news.

ORR: Hi, mark.

SAUER: Alison St. John North County reporter for KPBS.

ST. JOHN: Good to be here.

SAUER: Chris Cadelago of UT San Diego. Good to see you.

CADELAGO: Good to see you, mark.

SAUER: And Michael Smollens, political editor for UT San Diego,

SMOLLENS: How you doing?

SAUER: So the last time a political party had a super majority in Sacramento was back in the depression, 1933. Now the Democrats claim they are about to manage the feat again. Michael, tell us what a super majority is.

SMOLLENS: Well, it's 2/3 of a majority, in both the assembly and the Senate. And it allows them to do a number of things. They can pass taxes in California. 2/3 majority approved taxes in the legislature without having to go to the ballot. They can put bonds on the ballot, they can do any number of things. They can also kind of suspend the rules of the house. And that sounds very bureaucratic, but that enables them to get a lot of things done and move quickly F. They hauled a 2/3 majority in theory, and it's an absolute 2/3, they don't need any Republican votes. That was the only thing that was keeping the Republicans in the game on budget matters and stuff like that. They always had at least a couple votes to block a budget deal.

SAUER: Taxes and --

SMOLLENS: Exactly, taxes and budget and so forth. So it's a big, big deal in that regard.

SAUER: But they aren't quite there yet, right?

SMOLLENS: Well, it's a little bit of a domino effect. There's a couple seats that will be vacated in the Senate. Juan Vargas from San Diego got elected to Congress. And there's another seat that's hanging in the balance in the electoral count. But these are -- the Democrats believe they're going to win those seats. The Vargas Senate seat is a very democratic seat. What it really means, not so much that the 2/3 will be in doubt, but the timing. With all of these dominos to take place, special elections, we're looking close to budget time in the spring and summer before they have those 2/3 filled. And people are, like, oh, my goodness, the Democrats can just open the flood gates.

SAUER: Absolute power,

SMOLLENS: I don't think that's going to happen. The governor has made very clear, and he holds a lot of cards, that he's not going to let that happen. The legislative leaders say they're not going to let that happen. And again they would need every single vote, and the governor because. The success of proposition 30, he can say we've got revenues right now to get us through. To start flooding with revenues is not going to do anybody any good. He can obviously block that. Even though a 2/3 majority can override a veto, he will get a few votes to keep that from happening.

ST. JOHN: Does that mean we won't be covering the budget into late in into the summer? Part of the whole thing in Sacramento has been this deadlock.

SMOLLENS: Well, are they passed as much of a budget as close to real-time as possible.

ST. JOHN: We talk so much about the deadlock in Sacramento, we need to get more harmony. Now we have a situation where it looks like the deadlock has been broken, and we're worried about the opposite effect.

SMOLLENS: Well, true. But there's this notion that both parties march in lock step. I think the Republicans do. But you've got moderates and liberals, particularly as the districts start changing, you're going to see some change in the demographics and the political bent of people. So there still will be some big, big fights.

ORR: And a lot has been said about what kid the Republicans do wrong, but I think it puts a lot of pressure on the Democrats. Up in Sacramento and here locally in San Diego, the Democrats have all the power now. So okay. What are you going to do with it? And will things get better? Will things change? That puts a lot of pressure on them to actually deliver.

CADELAGO: I was talking to Marty block on election night, and he made the point, Democrats have already taken a lot of the heat up there for having these high numbers.

SAUER: Tell us what Marty block is again.

CADELAGO: A state Senator now, state Senator elect in the assembly. And his point was, like, hey, we've already taken the blame for what's gone on in Sacramento. Now we can really have some say over things or more say, and if there is blame to be had, then we may deserve it this time. But he was basically saying this is an opportunity to actually carry out sort of that majority that we've already had, but in a real sense instead of having sort of one or two folks here that are blocking things from happening. The other point I would make is with this new top-two primary system, we have folk like Rocky Chavez campaigning and reaching across two Democrats. So we've seen as a result of that system Republican on Republican races where Republicans have made certain numbers of pledges to folks that they would work with the other parties. That's another thing to consider. It's not like these parties march in lock step.

ST. JOHN: Do we have any evidence that some of the Democrats are more moderate as a result of that top-two primary?

CADELAGO: I think we saw less of that, actually. There was probably more of the Republican on Republican races where they campaigned and reached out to Democrats and said, you know, I know your only choice is between two Republicans, but I am the Republican you want to vote for. So I think that's one of the trends we're seeing.

SAUER: Okay. And I want to see if we can get our listeners involved in this conversation. The question has to be begged, are Republicans irrelevant now in California?

SMOLLENS: Well, in the City of San Diego, they've achieved third party status.

SAUER: What do you mean by that?

SMOLLENS: Well, Democrats have a 40.5% of the city registered voter, independents and others are 27.6%, and Republicans are just below that. So for the first time, they're kind of in 3rd place.

ST. JOHN: That's in the city.

SMOLLENS: That's not city. Not in the region. Democrats have a slight edge in the county. The Republicans have I think about 1/3 of the registered voters statewide. But it's getting close to where the independents are growing on them. And the Democrats as well. It's not that it's a total benefit for the Democrats. But there's a lot of soul searching after an election like this. What happened here is something that people have been talking about for many, many years. The Latino vote finally came to the fore for the first time that people are really talking about it. It was always the sleeping giant. It still has a lot more to be realized, but they had a very good turnout. And the Democratic Party is the older, whiter party. And there's a huge battle going to take place in this. And right off the bat you had people like Sean Hannity and others talking about immigration reform. And now the path to citizenship is going to become en vogue for Republicans of the that's not an area where than unanimity. Taxes will be the difficult one for them to cross. There's been a lot of disagreement within the Republican party. And I think they think that's an area where they can come off and be more moderate and also appeal to Latinos because that's been a huge issue. This is nothing new. It's just surprising it's taken this long.

CADELAGO: I think nationally they still have a lot to contend with. We remember John McCain was one of the senators that put forward the immigration reform package that got killed essentially by both sides. And in that presidential race in 2008 he did not do very well in the Latino vote. So there's --

SAUER: And Romney did worse this time.

CADELAGO: Romney did even worse. There's a certain kind of reaction coming from sort of the right-wing talk show hosts who say don't act too quickly because it hasn't done us much good in the past anyway. What more should we do? There's sort of this talk of we don't want to compromise on our principles. We're going to hear a lot of that as well.

SAUER: I did want to ask, we mentioned Proposition 30, Governor Brown's big tax initiative. He went all in. He put all his political chips into the pot, it would seem. And if that had failed, we'd be having a very different conversation today. Now they appear to have money to restore some of the cuts. What are we talking about specifically?

SMOLLENS: Well, primarily, it's education. The budget was unique in that it was passed assuming this revenue was going to be there, with automatic cuts triggered in of $5.5 million to K12 schools. There's a lot of discussion, have they used their money wisely and so forth. But if Prop 30 had failed, there would have been a big move among very powerful interests, schools, legislators that support them which were a lot, to modify those cuts. At least it takes them off the brink. States are going to still have a multibillion dollars deficit. It's not like they're in heaven. They've got a lot of work to do. And I'm sure that's where the government wants to focus. I'm sure there's a lot of rhetoric now about restraint. We can't just start pushing taxes and fees. But when they get up there, people will start doing that. It depends on just what the leadership do. But primarily, it's the education.

SAUER: I want to break for one second to change this topic because there's a little breaking news that just came across. David Petraeus, the head of the CIA has just resigned over an extra marital affair. I'll throw that bomb out there on live radio? That is news!


SMOLLENS: I thought it was going to be about Benghazi, but of course it's about sex.

SAUER: Okay! Go ahead, Alison.

ST. JOHN: I was going to say something. I'm trying to remember now.


ST. JOHN: It was to do with the fact that prop 30 sort of illustrates partly why the Republicans did so badly. Voters voted Prop 30 who was going to raise taxes on people who have incomes over $250,000. And let's face it, that is kind of the mandate. And I think that's partly why Republicans had such a hard time this year. They would not budge on this. And most of the population thinks, look! It's time for people who do really well in this economy to chip in and help! So Prop 30 goes along with that whole thing that the Republicans are up against, defending that upper echelon.

SAUER: And the president sure made that point this morning when he addressed the nation regarding the fiscal cliff.

CADELAGO: In addition to education, counties are certainly help about one point, which is this guaranteed funding for public safety realignment. So this is actually in there beginning I believe next year. And I believe it's over $1 billion a year to the counties, a good chunk of that to San Diego being sort of --

SAUER: And reminder listeners of that term, realignment.

CADELAGO: This was the shifting of prisoners and parolees from the state down to the counties. We now have responsibility, some of them are remanded to the custody of the sheriff, Sheriff Gore, and there was a big question about whether this would be adequately funded.

SAUER: A lot of financial strain on the counties because of that.

ORR: In terms of Prop 30, because of observation, you could tell there was a lot of support for it. Of course California is famous for not voting for tax increases. But just going to classes at SDSU, all the professors were keyed in, are the students were keyed into it, union members were really keyed into that. You had big signs that say vote yes on 30, no on 32. So it was kind of a combined effort. So again, it's probably -- it might be surprises that a tax increase passed, but from an anecdotal level, it seems like the base of support was really there for it.

SAUER: Right. On that news about general Petraeus resigning, that was on social media so far. It was broken on twitter. So it hasn't been confirmed. I want to make that point. Michael?

SMOLLENS: Prop 30, the governor did a remarkable job. Polls showed it sliding below 50%. And a lot of his supporters were saying he needed to get out there earlier. And he kind. Held his fire, I think accident for the maximum impact and did a very good job obviously. Because it passed very, very comfortably.

ORR: Well, he brought out his dog.


SMOLLENS: One of the things that gets lost in this, it's just 1 quarter cent on a dollar, what does that mean on a cup of coffee? Very easy, graphic descriptions. Small businesses are going to be hurt by this. They largely pay their taxes through personal income tax. So they're going to be hurting. It's not just a sales tax. And they don't have a lot of margin. What is interesting that some people, what didn't get a lot of play in the campaign, is that corporations don't have this higher tax rate. So in a different kind of way, the little guy gets nailed again, the small businessman. Everybody will be affected by the sales tax. And some people thought that the governor and the Chamber of Commerce kind of cut a deal, I don't know the reality of that, but clearly big business was able to avoid the tougher bite than the smaller businesses.

SAUER: We're going to shift gears a little bit and take a look at the shifting demographics that we've been talking about. San Diego was once solidly Republican, both in the city and the county. That's no longer the case. Will Chris, Tuesday's election was historic in the respect of voters electing minorities to the state legislature, to Congress.

CADELAGO: We had a couple big elections here. One of them was sort of the result of Congress Bob Filner running and winning the mayor's race. Juan Vargas for the fourth time had the ability to pursue the 51st congressional district. Fourth time was the charm. All the imperial county, and the southern border region of San Diego County. And there was really no big surprise on election day with Juan. He was -- him and his campaign team were Wiley enough to -- his formidable opponent in the primary was Denise Ducheny. And they were able to just put the Republican over the top by sending out some mail pieces favoring him. He kind of walked into that seat. Then we also had the election of Shirley Webber. This is a district that is not primarily African American in any way.

SAUER: For the listeners who don't live in the city, tell us who Shirley Webber is.

>> She has a very interesting personal story. College professor, mayor's appointee on the citizens equal opportunity commission. She was born to share cropper parents in Hope, Arkansas. Bill Clinton's town. And she got her PhD. At 26, been a longtime active community member. When this district opened up, there was about 12, 13 people in that trace. And there was a lot of talk about some of the other names there that people knew some folks from Chula Vista. There was a guy who worked for California endowment who was very well known because for the democratic congressional campaign committee. And Shirley just didn't get a whole lot of attention in the primary but was able to make it through that one. This is a district that has a good portion of San Diego, national city, Chula Vista. Spring Valley, Lemon Grove. So very, very diverse in the sense of cities, but really less diverse in the sense of some of the other districts we would see in LA County for instance.

SAUER: So it's historic certainly with her victory. A caller, Regger from Chula Vista, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: I wanted to make a comment about earlier what you were talking about how the demographics have changed, and how the Republican party -- they didn't take advantage of the Hispanic vote. But during the primary, Mitt Romney was so far to the left, and I remember him making a comment that --

SAUER: I think you mean to the right.

NEW SPEAKER: To the right. That he made a comment that they said they put themselves and a lot of the comments that the other people made, they're so far to the right on that issue. But the demographics have changed so much that when they do put the other candidate in, they're really going to have to focus on how it's changed. And they have to go out after every vote if they want to get back in the White House.

SAUER: Thanks very much. Thanks for that comment. Katie?

ORR: Just in response, I think in the mayor's election, anyway, we saw the power of the Hispanic vote. Bob Filner's last press conference before election day was down at the Logan Heights library with Latino voters really talking about getting them out to the polls, they were chanting si, se pueda, and he was speaking Spanish and really trying, there with Juan Vargas, and really trying to get them to the polls. And Carl DeMaio was saying throughout his campaign, we don't need labels. Don't think of me as a Republican. Just think of me as a candidate for mayor. And Bob Filner made a big deal with getting new faces in the city, new faces on the boards and commissions, really trying to emphasize the diversity that he would bring.

CADELAGO: Just to give folks a sense of the numbers, we looked into some of these figures from SANDAG. And all ethnic groups from the 2000 census to now have increased in the community by 10%. When you look at the Latinos, that number is increased by over 30%. And the number of Asian and Hawaiian Pacific islanders and others has increased by 34%. At the same time, the white vote has decreased by about 3%. Of so the numbers bear out that the county is shifting in that sense. And I think the politicians are going to have to take note of this.

ST. JOHN: It's hard to say how much these changing demographics affected Scott Peters and Brian Bilbray.

SAUER: That was my next question!

ST. JOHN: We're in tune here. But Brian Bilbray really played down his immigration stance during his campaign. He hardly mentioned it! When you think about his previous battles with people like Francine Busby, that was a key reason why he won!

SAUER: So remind us his stance.

ST. JOHN: He is the chair of the immigration caucus on the Republican party. And he's against the dream act, he's very much for enforcing immigration on employers. And I think that even though he didn't mention it in the campaign, the Latino community had not forgotten. They came out and they dem grated outside his campaign. And that could be actually one of probably several reasons why --

SAUER: In a very close race, yeah.

ST. JOHN: He lost his seat, yeah.

SMOLLENS: In that race, all are affected by the ethnic demographics. But more so by the politic demographics. His district changed from a comfortable Republican margin to one with only a 3% Republican margin which is negligible in the lexicon of politics. That was part of the reason I think in addition to the ethnic demographics why he deemphasized his immigration stance and why Peters is doing so well. Of he's got a slight lead right now. But they had a great ground operation that really nailed the Republicans.

ST. JOHN: Thirty thousand votes.

SMOLLENS: They did a really good job. But they did make use of all those dynamics we're talking about. To make use of it, you really have to go out and get it want

SAUER: You do. And I think the Republicans were caught flat-footed. They didn't think the turnout among these demographic groups we're talking about was going to be as high as it did.

ST. JOHN: Well, I don't know if it was a shocker. They were clear they were trying to send people door to door south of 8.

CADELAGO: And prop 32 as Katie mentioned, that was a huge factor in getting the folks as motivated as they were. Michael talked about this labor and democratic combined ground game. A huge reason why you get thousands of volunteers out. You tell them really they're standing here is being threatened. Prop 32 would ban payroll deductions for political purposes.

SAUER: Huge blow to unions.

CADELAGO: It would have been. And that was sort of like their backs were against the wall, and that was one thing that really helped them. And I think Scott Peters also benefited from more than just the labor and the democratic party which were very substantial. He had a team of over 500 folk, volunteers, and walkers and a ground game of his own. It was sort of like a triple punch to Bilbray who largely relied on the Republican party to get out the vote. Peters had been doing this, almost had like a triple-sized team by being able to pay some folks and have a big group of volunteers doing some walking. That was a function of his own campaign. The last point I would make, I think we do have to give Democrats a lot of credit locally. They fielded a group of candidates who were probably -- appealed a lot more to sort of the moderate or independent voter out there. They didn't pick folks who were way to one side or another. They picked like a Dave Robert, or even a Scott Peters who had pretty broad appeal. I think he was endorsed by three or four former chamber chair, people knew him from the City Council. He was not seen as this far left guy.

ORR: Except for the mayor's race. I think Bob Filner is probably seen as a far left. But more successfully was able to appeal to the moderate voters than Carl DeMaio ultimately was.

SAUER: Michael?

SMOLLENS: Well a couple myths were exploded in a big way. One was that the enthusiasm for Barack Obama wasn't going to be what it was in 2008. It probably wasn't, but it was a lot more than people had predicted. Also the young voters. We read story after story about how unenthused they are. Well, that sort of urban myth so to speak kept going, and I don't know that people checked back to see what was going on. And we now know that through social media, and the organizing and the literal threats, particularly on education, let's not forget that prop 30, the universities were going to get hurt very badly.

SAUER: Hammered there, absolutely.

SMOLLENS: So on a number of fronts, people overuse the term a perfect storm, but it was one really that was created by Democrats in a large way.

CADELAGO: And the summertime, there were quite a bit more people out there than just young people who weren't enthused. It was several months before the election,

SMOLLENS: I wasn't enthused during the summertime!


ORR: If you think about the statewide ballot, it seems like there was something for everyone on there. The people who wanted food label, the people who were opposed to cuts to education could come out for prop 30, the union members came out for 32. There was such a broad range of issues that maybe it just really got a whole bunch of different people to the polls who may not have otherwise come out.

SAUER: All right, we're going to leave it there.


SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable on KPBS. I'm Mark Sauer. My guests are Katie Orr and Alison St. John of KPBS news, and Chris cad laggo and Michael Smollens of UT San Diego. Carl DeMaio preached reform and working with establishment interests. Bob Filner was aligned with unions, bolstering neighborhoods. Why did Bob Filner win?


ORR: Well, I think everything we've been talking about through this show plays into that. He had a lot of turnout among minorities. If you look at the map that Kevin Crowe from I-newssource did here, it was basically split in half with the Republicans north of the 8 voting, and the denser areas south of the 8 going with Bob Filner. Ultimately he was able to appeal to moderate voters more effectively than Carl DeMaio was. Both of these men certainly are not known for their nice personalities, shall we say? They're both seen as sort of aggressive, kind of prickly guys. But for whatever reason, maybe because DeMaio is more in the news locally, people are more familiar with them, and they were more familiar with his personality. And he just wasn't able to convince as many people that he's the moderate guy he tried to be in the general election.

SAUER: I want to remind listeners to join us if you've got a comment or a question. 1-888-895-5727. Michael from east lake, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: I just wanted to point out that one of the problems that I see, and it explains the gridlock in town or in the state or national level, remember one of the definitions of politics is that it's the art of compromise. And the Republican party has been hijacked by a crowd that said no compromise is the word. They have to sign pledges of no taxes which is absurd. How are you going to pay for the wars that they support? Another thing it's hard to say every problem that comes up, they label it socialism. Will which is absurd. That's a juvenile term to use because they never define it. I just wanted to share that.

SAUER: Thank you, Michael.

CADELAGO: A lot in California is made of these tax pledges. And I think folks in Congress are probably a little bit scareder of breaking a pledge like that. We've seen in the state legislator Republican after Republican over the last few years essentially breaking their pledge. So I don't know that the pledge has really been the driving force behind Republicans in California.

SAUER: Well, are what about nationally? Grover Norquist? The famously unelected guru of shrink government down until the size you can drown it in the bathtub: The no-tax pledge that all Republicans at the national level seem to have to sign. Are those days over?

SMOLLENS: I don't think so. California has a good experiment going here with the top-two primary. We've seen some indications that it forces people to more moderate positions in theory. But most districts are still very partisan districts. And appealing to that more extreme base does the trick. And in a lot of Republican districts, you're still going to have that no-tax pressure or be ousted by the Norquist followers. But Democrats are part of this equation. They also are not willing, in certain case, to bend as well. So we'll have to see. They're going to have to compromise in Sacramento and Washington.

SAUER: Let's bring this back around to the mayor's race. This campaign was pretty nasty. Have you heard from voters who were turned off by it? We had a feature today from Brad Racino talking about strategists on both sides and some of the ads they regretted.

ORR: I think we saw throughout the campaign that the undecided voters remained fairly high, anywhere from 13-18%. The last poll we saw from 10 News said 7% on the mayor's race undecided. I talked to political scientists about it, and they say San Diego voters are just used to choosing between two moderate Republicans for mayor, and they're not used to this having two extreme candidates. And a lot of people, the day before the election, I just don't know what I'm going to do.

CADELAGO: Yeah, I think I would take an issue with Carl DeMaio not being able to pull the independents and Democrats. He got up to 48%. So those votes came from somewhere. He did well with a number of those groups. But he came pretty close, given the numbers against him.

ST. JOHN: I guess to some degree, I think that this issue that Katie is raising about the number of undecided voter, Filner just benefited from this national wave in which people decided that Republicans are the party of no. So he had the benefit of the fact that the city is predominantly Democrat. But also of that feeling, if I don't know, I'm going to go with the Democrat.

ORR: And hindsight is 2020. But there were people in the primaries saying it was assumed that Carl DeMaio would make it through to the general election because the primaries are just more partisan elections. But that whoever he faced, Nathan Fletcher, Bob Filner, would beat him, ultimately because he has had such a partisan reputation for the four years that he's been in the council. And he's a good candidate. He appeals to a lot of people, but especially toward the end of the campaign we saw him really trying to shed these labels, and talking about unifying San Diego. And it may be too little too late. He built his reputation on being the guy yelling for attention on the City Council.

SAUER: Not a backbencher anymore, and he tried to get back to the middle.

SMOLLENS: Well, you started off talking about the negative ad, and everybody decries them, and sometimes they regret certain ads, but they work and they're going to be part of it. I think the big turnoff is that they're not generally likeable guys to people in the middle! And we all know people who either didn't know until the day before or were holding their nose. Of

SAUER: The clothes pin election!

SMOLLENS: A lot of people -- the mayor, talk about somebody gritting his teeth. He and DeMaio acted like they hated each other for three years. I think that was a lot of the undecided. And in the polls, our polls showed that the undecided voters in the mayor's election were wildly favorable to Obama. So you just knew those people ultimately were going to go with biller in in the end.

ST. JOHN: That's right.

SAUER: The only time I've had to beep anybody on the air was mayor Sanders who was referring to Carl DeMaio!


CADELAGO: The other point in looking at the ads as Michael brought up, two arguably very effective things that Filner did in closing in the last few days of the campaign when we know Carl said at his press conference that his own polling showed him doing very well up until Friday was a huge amount of robo calls from president Bill Clinton for Bob Filner as well as sort of this very upbeat, positive ad saying Bob Filner, Democrat, and the other side of the screen showing Carl and painting him as a tea party Republican. And that kind of closing message I think did him a lot of good.

SAUER: With a lot of undecideds. You never really know though, do you? Something works if somebody gets elected.

SMOLLENS: The experts are going through the weeds to figure these things out. They know.

ORR: One thing I thought was interesting, looking at the breakdown of where the votes came from, it appeared that Carl DeMaio had a good portion of district 1 vote for him. Most of La Jolla went for him. North of university city went for Bob Filner. But it's interesting that the race between Sherri Lightner and Ray Ellis wasn't closer. She beat him by a good percentage point, I think 9 or so. It's interesting that since DeMaio carried more of that district that Ray Ellis didn't get a few more votes out of that. So now we have the democratic City Council, and the democratic mayor, which is very unusual for San Diego.

SAUER: Yeah.

SMOLLENS: Well, that was interesting because it was clear that Ray Ellis favored Carl DeMaio. But he tried to avoid that during the campaign.

ORR: Absolutely, yeah.

SMOLLENS: He didn't endorse and said he didn't have a candidate. But both those candidates really downplayed Ellis and Leitner and their ties. And the City Council and the mayor's race are nonpartisan. But as DeMaio downplayed his Republican conservative appeal that he had in the primary, Filner kept with his democratic appeal throughout because the numbers favored him. There are so many more registered Democrats that some could argue he should have done better.

SAUER: David from Chula Vista, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: Relative to Bob Filner, the general tone of this conversation has been sort of that he's kind of an abrasive and unlikeable guy which is completely the opposite of my impression of him. I'm sorry I didn't get to vote for him as a Congressman again. I know that he stepped down, basically because the divisiveness in the house just was more than he wanted to deal with for another term. I'm glad that we've got his energy here. I don't see him as being this abrasive difficult person that he's being characterized as being. In my experience, he's extremely engaging and someone who's who we're lucky to have his energies and his politics.

SAUER: Thanks very much for your comment.

SMOLLENS: And we've been dealing with Bob Filner for decades. Of and the caller is right. Bob is a nice guy with a certain charm. But he does have a temper. He can be abrasive. But frankly, he's a fighter. And that's what a lot of people like. People don't mind some of the headlines he gets for being abrasive and losing his temper because he really does represent those people well, and his record shows.

SAUER: Fighters get angry sometimes.

ORR: And I think this again is just my observation, but throughout the general election anyway, you had a sense that he was being a little more authentic. Yeah, he might not be a cuddly Teddy bear, but he knows that, and he doesn't seem to really try to pretend that he is, whereas sometimes again you got this feeling from DeMaio right or wrong. Maybe DeMaio had a more sensitive side. But during his years in council, he really doesn't put that on display. When he brought it out during the general election, people kind of questioned that. I feel like people know, love him or hate him, Bob Filner is who he is.

ST. JOHN: And I think Mike's point is well taken, some of that abrasiveness is more of this quality of being a fighter. And that's what he's up against right now. When he says he's going to change the power structure at the city, she is taking on something that has held the city for years behind the scenes that you don't actually hear much about.

SAUER: Including his predecessor Jerry Sanders now over at the chamber who has the face of the business interests. Let's throw this one out. What do you think about Mr. DeMaio? He came up short here. What happens to Carl DeMaio now?

ORR: You know, he'll probably --

ST. JOHN: We were all speculating about that in the newsroom too.

ORR: He says he's going to stay in San Diego. He wants to be involved. He loves the city. There have been people who said they think he's going to hightail it back to Washington DC. He says no, he's here.

SAUER: Okay. Chris?

CADELAGO: We hear a lot from Carl supporters and the folks that worked with him that he was this new face for California politics. And I think there's been some moves afoot to give him more of a presence in the California Republican party in addition to the stuff he might do, the business stuff on the side. Of they see him as somebody who could get elected in California. And I think they are pushing for that. You see some of his aides going to work for folks who are not necessarily the folks all the way on the right. So I would not be surprised if he does remain in politics if he resurfaces and sort of gets involved in trying to change the face of the party.


SAUER: 1 story we mentioned about general David petreace. Of NBC news now reports they do have his resignation letter

The CIA. That was originally a story that broke on twitter.

We are talking to Katie Orr and Alison St. John Chris cad laggo, and Michael Smollens of UT San Diego. The focus mainly this week was on the mayor's race and congressional races. But there was an interesting development on the state level in north San Diego County as well. One of the more interesting races was up north in Oceanside. Tell us about rocky Chavez.

ST. JOHN: This was the 76th assembly race. And it's interesting for a number of reasons in retrospect. It was one of those races where under the new top-two winners in the primary, you didn't get a Democrat and a Republican winner. You got two Republicans winning. So in this election we just had, the Republican party had a choice between a more conservative Republican, sherry Hodges, and a more moderate Republican, rocky Chavez. And you do have some Democrats. So you know which way they're going to go. And the whole goal of this top-two open primary was to trito give voters an opportunity to vote not necessarily between the most extreme member of their party but between mobile a moderate and a more extreme member of the party. And lo and behold, that's what happened in this race. Rocky Chavez got a significant vote, 57% to 42%.

SAUER: We were going to hear from him. Did you have a bite from him

ST. JOHN: Exactly.

NEW SPEAKER: This is an exciting race. If you think about it, throughout the State of California, for the next assembly member going up there, I believe I am the only one that won right now leading by 11 points without being endorsed by a party. Democrat or Republican.

ST. JOHN: And the point about that is that the Republican party did not endorse rocky. They endorsed the more conservative, sherry Hodges. But rocky did manage to get the endorsement of the Lincoln club.

SAUER: We've got a calleer who wants to join us.

NEW SPEAKER: I heard the comment earlier, and this makes it even more strongly, my point. We had a district where I don't believe it was 50% Republican registrations. When you have Republican against Republican, they're going to need somebody from the democratic side in order to win the 50% of the election. If you look at the races where we have Democrat against Democrat, in the majority of those, the more liberal or more extreme candidate was the candidate that got elected because they don't need to go to the middle to get the votes to get elected.

SAUER: Okay. All right. Thank you. I'm getting some quizzical looks around the table.

CADELAGO: I would take issue with that. Of the we had Pete Stark, a multiterm Congressman from up in the bay area in his 80s. He was taken down by a very young party guy in his mid-30s or so. And he was seen as the more moderate candidate, the challenger. So there are certainly some exceptions. But I think he has a point in some of these other races.

SMOLLENS: I was going to say locally we had a sort of moderate liberal competition in the 52nd congressional district between Scott Peters and Lori salDana. Very close. But Peters did win. But getting back to the assembly race that Alison is talking about, I think that's exactly what people who designed this thing were hoping for.

ST. JOHN: Were hoping.

SMOLLENS: That it would force people to be more moderate or that at least they would get elected. And we'll see how they do up there. Certainly he doesn't need the party. The party didn't back him. So he's not beholden to whatever their marching orders might be.

ST. JOHN: Early in the race he was really worried about the fact that sherry got the Republican endorsement. And the Lincoln club, which in the past we have always associated closely with the Republican party, chose to buck that trend and say no, we're not going to endorse the same candidate. We're going to endorse Rocky. And the Lincoln club is distancing itself from the Republican party, seeing that perhaps it's on a losing streak and saying we need to redefine what the probusiness, economic progressive is looking for.

SAUER: A lot of come to Jesus meetings going on this week.

CADELAGO: There was an e-mail that sent out to many of the folks TJ worked with with the word reform at the bottom crossed out, and regroup at the bottom. Of so that was sort of an example.

SMOLLENS: And TJ is the head of the Lincoln club. I kind of view the Lincoln club as a little bit different than the party. More business-orienteded. A lot of the party faithful get into more social issues than the Lincoln club did. But I think they're trying to figure out a pragmatic way to get out of this hole they're in because they're in a tough hole in California and increasingly San Diego.

>> In the past on the election night, are the Republican party had a big hotel, and they were the headquarters for more Republican candidates. Now this election, the Lincoln club is the one that really held the fort on election night. They were the ones that hosted the celebrations for the probusiness side. Of and the Republicans just had a foot hold on some 2nd floor. So I think it's kind of interesting that perhaps the Republican party is taking a backseat now to more the probusiness.

SMOLLENS: It's easy to get caught up. Things are cyclical. In the primary, the Republicans did a great job. In two years, are we going to have some sort of midterm adjustment as has happened? At the end of a story Chris wrote about what a great stretch the Democrats had in this election, Jess did you every said the Republicans are going to change.

SAUER: Who's --

SMOLLENS: The head of the local Democratic Party. But he -- on a day when he could really be beating his chest, he was very introspective and saying we can't sit still because they're not going to be like this forever. They're going to start figuring out how to move forward and not be a shrinking party. I thought that was pretty instructive and astutely of Jess.

SAUER: Let's shift gears. Tell us about the vote in Escondido. They voted on becoming a charter city. What were the dynamics of that?

ST. JOHN: The charter city vote went down, which is surprising, because several other cities around the county have chosen to become charter cities because it frees them up from state rules and allows them to not pay a prevailing wage. The mayor is crediting that to the fact that it went along with this issue of changing the way you vote for a City Council to districts. It would have been the first city that went toward districts.

SAUER: Escondido we're talking about.

ST. JOHN: Right. And that was because there's this threaten lawsuit to suggest that it violates the -- what is it? The --

ORR: The voting rights act.

ST. JOHN: Right. So the city decided that even though they opposed this idea, they would put it on the ballot. And the fact that it went down means it'll probably go back to the Courts.

SAUER: So we wound up with the status quo in terms of the makeup of the council there.

ST. JOHN: Yes, pretty much, Mike moRasko and Olga Diaz remain there. Olga will be in a minority, and the Latinos will have to fight for the issues they care about.

CADELAGO: One point, and I know Alison has been covering this case very closely, is Dave Roberts' performance there against Steve Danon. S that the one reverse of the status quo there

SMOLLENS: That's the supervisors race?


ST. JOHN: We've got finally after 19 years a Democrat, are one Democrat on the Board of Supervisors.

SAUER: Moderate Democrat.

ST. JOHN: At that, that's right. And he sort of came from behind. Steve Danon had been campaigning for two years. Everybody thought he had it locked up. And Dave Roberts just arrived the last minute in January and proceeded to within the race. What can we say except that perhaps again he managed to raid this wave, this blue wave that swept the country and the county. Whether it will make that much different to the supervisors, remains to be seen!

SAUER: What impact might it have on that board?

ST. JOHN: I think he played it sort of -- he was emphasizing the fact that he has a lot in common with some of the other supervisors, he wasn't too radical when he was campaigning. But I think he will bring something different to the board

CADELAGO: I think the neighborhood reinvestment fund looks like it's here to say.

SAUER: Slush fund, some people call it?

CADELAGO: Yeah. And Steve Danon had an encounter with Bill Horn, the North County supervisor before the election where Bill pulled him aside and said, hey, Steve, if you don't want that $1 million, I'll take it.


CADELAGO: So we know that Dave Roberts is squarely supportive of that, and we know that Dave tends to be in line with Pam Slater price on a lot of the development and sort of land-use issues. So we'll continue to see sort of a voting block of Diane Jacob, the supervisor, and Dave Roberts on some of the land-use stuff.