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Political Fix by Gloria Penner

Reconnecting With Pete Wilson at the Republican National Convention

Above: Click to view the full, 20-minute interview with Pete Wilson

Republicans made it easy for me to get to the floor of their national convention.  All I had to do was turn in my media pass to a special desk and there it was – complete access to the floor.  So different from the Democrats where I never was admitted to the space where delegates congregated.

After a fairly long search of delegate neighborhoods, I found the California group rather far back from the stage, certainly not in prime territory.  I wonder why.  Could it be because California has a blue state history, despite its Republican governor?  At any rate, I was delighted to mingle with folks from my state and found familiar faces from past interviews and earlier life experiences. 

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In the crowd was former San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson, who catapulted his sleepy 1970’s city into a modern metropolis.  This accomplishment combined with his reputation as a moderate Republican set the stage for his successful bid for the U.S. Senate and then the California governor’s seat.  His terms as the state’s top official were politically turbulent, with much of the turmoil centered on his support of Proposition 209, which ended racial quotas and preferences.  He also was involved in the deregulation the state's energy market, and angered California’s Hispanic population by backing taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants.

However, my early memories of Pete include sharing social moments with our former spouses on Mission Beach, at the nascence of his political career and the threshold of my journalistic journey in San Diego. I remember him as a young man grounded in ideals and humor.  The years make changes in all of us.  But often, there are hints of the past in what we have become.

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