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New Blood In San Diego Politics

Francine Busby, the new chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, and Ron Nehring, the vice chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, talk to KPBS about new blood in the ranks of their leadership this year.


Francine Busby, Chair, San Diego County Democratic Party

Ron Nehring, Vice Chair, San Diego County Republican Party


Both the Democratic and Republican parties in San Diego County have new blood in the ranks of leadership this year.

In the case of the Democrats, Francine Busby has been elected to replace long time chair, Jess Durfee. The Republicans, meanwhile, have kept their current chairman Tony Kvaric but named a young Latina, Francis Barraza, as the new executive director.

Barraza, formerly the party's finance director, says one of her priorities will be to draw more people to the party. A recent study found that county Democrats gained registered voters since 2005, while Republicans lost voters.

Ron Nehring, the vice chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, told KPBS that Republicans have a challenge to recruit more voters.

"We have to build relationships, our candidates have to build relationships in the communities that have not historically been supporting Republicans," he said. "We have to have positive, forward-looking response to the issues that they care about, not just on the economy, but on issues of health care and immigration as well."

He said we will see Republicans talking about a guest worker program and other solutions for immigration.

Busby ran for national office in 2004 when she made her first of several bids for a seat in Congress, initially challenging Randy Cunningham and then Brian Bilbray. The odds were not in her favor to win those races, but she has served important roles supporting the party in training and fundraising and now will take the lead in building the party after its successful showing in the last November election.

Despite the Democrats' big win in November, Busby said they're "anything but complacent."

"This is the first time we've had so many Democrats in elected office, and we're eager to put our policies into place because people voted for Democrats," she said. "They voted for Democrats to move forward on transit, on green energy. They voted for Democrats because we respect and support justice and equality for women, for the LGBT community, for Latinos."

"It wasn't just a demographic shift," she added. "It was, they want to see these policies move forward and we're ready to do that."

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.

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