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#ShowUsYourMailers: San Diego Chamber Supports Reluctant Candidate

Photo by Claire Trageser

A mailer paid for by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's political action committee supporting City Council candidate Ricardo Flores, June 2, 2016.

Does Democrat Ricardo Flores want the support from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce? It's hard to say.

A series of large glossy mailers paid for by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's political action committee are touting Democrat Ricardo Flores, who is running to replace his boss, Marti Emerald, for the City Council District 9 seat.

But does Flores want their support? It's hard to say.

The fliers feature quotes from Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, including this one: "I've worked with Ricardo Flores and trust his commitment to fiscal responsibility." The chamber also paid for robocalls from Faulconer and former Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders telling voters to support Flores.

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Flores wrote on Facebook that he "did not seek or have knowledge of in advance" of Faulconer's calls.

"I have not met with him or sought out his endorsement," Flores wrote. "As a lifelong Democrat, my goal is to further our Democratic values and improve the lives of all San Diegans, especially our working families." He added that he'd work with voters from every party.

Flores took a softer stance when he talked to KPBS about the mailers.

"I thought the message they were conveying that I'm willing to work in a bipartisan fashion with individuals to better our communities. I thought that's what I took from it," he said.

He said he didn't know the mailers or calls were going out — it's illegal for candidates to coordinate with political action committees — "so there's nothing I can do about it."

Flores said he posted on Facebook about the robocalls after hearing from voters asking whether he'd sought Faulconer's support.

"We just wanted to be clear as to how that came about," he said. "That we really had nothing to do with it, but ultimately at the end of the day our goal was to get as much support as possible for this election, and that we also wanted to communicate to the public that I'm willing to work in a bipartisan fashion."

Flores said he hadn't worked with the chamber of commerce on "any particular issue."

Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

This map shows the location of the San Diego City Council's District 9. It includes Southcrest, Mountain View, Mount Hope, City Heights, El Cerrito, Talmadge, Kensington, College View Estates, Alvarado Estates, Rolando and the College Area.

Aimee Faucett, head of the chamber's political action committee, said the business group decided to support Flores' campaign because of past work with him on issues such as job creation, infrastructure and the city's Pure Water Program. In advance of the election, she said, the chamber has had an open dialogue with him.

"We've always felt he was open to hearing our issues and concerns," Faucett said. "We know that we’re not always going to agree on all issues, but we do like his leadership style of being collaborative."

Faucett said she wasn't bothered by Flores' Facebook post denouncing the robocalls.

"He did say he’s about representing Democrats, Republicans and independents and he’s going to represent everybody, and that’s why we like him," she said.

If Flores is elected, Faucett said the chamber hopes to "have an open dialogue with him relating to infrastructure, the economy and jobs and how businesses are treated through the permitting process and affordable housing."

While another Democrat running for City Council, Anthony Bernal, was endorsed by Faulconer, the chamber isn't supporting his election. Faucett said that's because the chamber doesn't have the same relationship with Bernal as it does with Flores.

Flores is running against three other Democrats to represent the council district that includes Kensington, Talmadge, the College Area and City Heights.

Photo by Claire Trageser

A "Republican Voter Guide" that Democratic City Council candidate Georgette Gomez and City Attorney candidate Mara Elliott paid to be included in, June 2, 2016.

One of the candidates, Georgette Gomez, has also paid to be included in slate mailers that support mostly Republican candidates.

The so-called Republican Voter Guide urges voters to "Vote Republican" and includes a picture of former President Ronald Reagan. It also says Gomez paid to be included. Gomez also paid to be included in the California Voters Guide, which highlights mostly Republican candidates.

Dan Rottenstreich, a spokesman for Gomez, wrote in an email that she paid to be part of the mailer because she "has told voters of every party and in every neighborhood that she'll shake up City Hall and oppose spending any taxpayer money on a stadium."

"This isn't about partisan politics," Rottenstreich said. "It's about fighting for what’s right for our neighborhoods, and that’s a message we want all voters to hear."

The United Food and Commercial Worker Union's political action committee — which supports Sarah Saez in the District 9 race — sent a mailer attacking Flores for his Republican support. It says "downtown Republicans who oppose raising the minimum wage" are "pulling Flores' strings," and shows pictures of Faulconer, Sanders and David Malcolm, a former port commissioner.

Flores supports raising the minimum wage.

Photo caption: A campaign mailer attacking City Council candidate Ricardo Flores, June 2, 2016.

Photo by Claire Trageser

A campaign mailer attacking City Council candidate Ricardo Flores, June 2, 2016.

You can show us the mailers you receive by tweeting a picture to @KPBSnews with the hashtag #ShowUsYourMailers, or e-mail it to kpbsmailers@kpbs.org. You can also submit it through our Public Insight Network query.

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