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New Blood In San Diego Politics

New Blood In San Diego Political Parties
New Blood In San Diego Politics
GuestsFrancine Busby, Chair, San Diego County Democratic PartyRon Nehring, Vice Chair, San Diego County Republican Party

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Democrats have plenty to celebrate in November but Republicans are making sure they cannot rest on their laurels. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The president presents a bipartisan message in his inaugural put political battles on the ground continue. The San Diego chapters of both parties have new faces in the leadership process here. It's not an election year but the parties are aware they have no time to waste to retool their messages. Then, think you are more likely to remember a face or comment on Facebook? You might be surprised by the things the brain remembers most easily. And paintings you never saw before by artist and storyteller Ted Giesel. La Jolla ladies in the style of Cat in The hat. You will hear tales of his life. Don't want to miss that. It's all coming up on Midday Edition right after this news. New leadership in the San Diego political parties as they regroup after the last elections, new findings about what we tend to remember best and a new book about San Diego icon Ted Giesel. This is Midday Edition. Today is Monday, January 21, Martin Luther King Day and Inauguration Day. I am Allison St. John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. So this morning Pres. Barack Obama has sworn into office publicly and inaugurating his second term. Hundreds of thousands of people were on the national Mall to witness the ceremony and among them were some San Diegans who traveled to DC especially for the celebrations and we have a couple of them on the line with us now to share what it meant for them. Brian Johnson is one of them. Brian are you there? BRIAN JOHNSON: Yes I am. I can hear you fine. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Where are you now and where were you when the ceremony was going on? BRIAN JOHNSON: When the ceremony was going on we were right in front of the air and space Museum. Now after a long wait in the security line we are about 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. waiting for the parade to come by. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Okay this is not your first inauguration is that right? BRIAN JOHNSON: No, we came last time where it was way more crowded and we were a lot further away we were easily a mile away the last time. This time I guess we are a half a mile away. ALLISON ST. JOHN: What was the energy like for you? BRIAN JOHNSON: Still a lot of energy, a lot of people excited it was fun taking part of a big civic event like the inauguration. ALLISON ST. JOHN: So what struck you or touch to about the president's speech this time? BRIAN JOHNSON: There were a couple things. The main thing was when he talked about, there was the line about the Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall and how, you know, those events propelled America forward and how we've still got a ways to go on some of those things. And I really like that little line. ALLISON ST. JOHN: How did you feel about the rest of the ceremony, the poem and the rest of the songs didn't leave you with a sense of direction? BRIAN JOHNSON: It was all good. I enjoyed it. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Jessica Lewis is also on the line, Jessica are you there? Yes, hello you are a senior at La Jolla country Day I understand and you signed up for this a year ago you had to write a couple essays to win a spot for the event. What part of the trip is making the biggest impression on you so far? JESSICA LEWIS: I would say today itself after being able to see all the dignitaries walk in, the people I admire most, they are my role models and I hope to someday follow in their footsteps of being in such proximity to them and witnessing all of this has been really inspiring. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Good now it's not just the inaugural ceremony that you will be doing well in DC, what else are you up to? JESSICA LEWIS: We're seeing a lot of the sites, (inaudible), Arlington national Cemetery, we will be visiting the local congressman Scott peters office tomorrow so we are pretty involved all over DC. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Brain I would like to ask you if you would talk to somebody else about why it's worth making the trip out there, what would you say? BRIAN JOHNSON: The easiest thing to say is that it is an historic event, but the better thing to say is that when you do these large civic events like this it really sort of connects you to everybody and all the other citizens are there with you and you don't feel like you are so isolated or out there on your own you know, we really are in this altogether. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Did you feel like the president struck a tone that was bipartisan enough, how did it strike you? BRIAN JOHNSON: He certainly made the effort. It takes two to tango, however so we will see. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Good point thank you so much to Jessica if you're going to come back and talk to your schoolmates, what is the story you will tell them? JESSICA LEWIS: I would probably tell them about the day it's been a bit hectic, we made a bunch of changes in plans being able to navigate around here, we had to get up early this morning of course, so just the whole atmosphere but it's been so enjoyable because of the energy here so I think that is probably what has made this whole experience so amazing and that I would want other people to be able to experience the same joy around this kind of occasion. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Enough to get you really excited about being part of a democracy I guess. JESSICA LEWIS: Definitely. Es especially since we've been able to be involved in a local community being part of the national ceremony is really amazing. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Great thank you so much for joining us, Jessica Lewis from La Jolla country day school and Brian Johnson who was at the second inauguration ceremony today thank you both so much. Enjoy the rest of your day. So the president set a unifying done today using the words read to people very forcefully in his speech it was a moment of coming together because American democracy is built on debate as a way of resolving disagreements so we are fortunate to have a studio the San Diego leaders of both of our major political parties. Willing to be in the same room thankfully to share a little of their priorities for the coming year. Both the Democratic and Republican parties and San Diego have new blood in the ranks of the leadership in the case of the Democrats Francine Busby has been elected to replace longtime chair (inaudible) Steffi. In the case of the Republicans they have named a Latina Francis Brazas is the new Executive Director. So joining us to talk about their respective strategies we have first of all for the Democrats the new chair of the Democratic Party Francine Busby thank you so much for joining us FRANCINE BUSBY: Thank you Allison ALLISON ST. JOHN: I want to give little introduction for those who may not be familiar with prints each event for national office 2004 when she made the first of several bids for Congress initially challenging Randy Cunningham and finally Brian Bilbray. The odds were not in favor for her to win the races but she said important role supporting the party in training and fundraising and she's also active with one woman run which is a non-profit that mentors pro-choice women to mentor and train for office. Francine is the first guest and the second guest is Ron Nehring, who is an old hand with the Republican Party. He's a veteran strategist who led the party in the early 's and was until quite recently until 2011 the chair of the state Republican Party. And he's here to tell us a bit about the new strategies that the party is working on to regain its foothold after well, a bit of a disappointing election in the last cycle. So thanks so much for joining us, Ron. RON NEHRING: Thank you. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Let's start with you Francine just because we are talking today on Inauguration Day what struck you about the speech today? FRANCINE BUSBY: Allison I was struck on two levels. I think the president (inaudible) for the election he talked about how we all have individual responsibilities in our society but that we are all in this together and the ceremony reflected the diversity in our country from the choir to the speakers and the singers and he talked about our strength is when we work together to make each other stronger and better and I think that also resonates in San Diego. I see the recent election in San Diego also as a reflection of the diverse community that we have. And the fact that people want to work together and they won't San Diego to benefit all San Diego's. Here in the city and County what I think we're moving all distractions. He touched on climate change which has a huge impact here in San Diego so I felt he was talking to San Diego's very personally. ALLISON ST. JOHN: So Ron, we had Richard Borge reading the beautiful poem focusing more on what we all have in common and I think you know, if one of the reasons cited for some of the results in November was that the Republican Party didn't reach out to diversity enough. Would you say that is something that came out in today's ceremony that you are paying less attention to? RON NEHRING: I think what's most notable in this addresses it's the most liberal speech that Barack Obama has given in his presidency this is not the speech dedicated to thousand four at the Democratic national convention or anything that was reflected in the first term as president or anything reflected on the campaign trail. This is exactly the type of thing which we should have protected and which Republicans did predict that when the president not had to worry about winning another term that he would move far to the left. We saw a preview of this when he said to Russian resident Dmitry Medvyedev that he needed some breathing space until after the election and such and I think we will see the president pursuing a very liberal agenda in a very aggressively we should expect that and we are thankful that the American people also elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives so that we do not cast aside the incredible mountain of debt that we are handing off to our children and how their quality of life is going to suffer because of the dead and the bills airless racking up ALLISON ST. JOHN: So from your perspective it is starting to do, and he said never relinquished the skepticism of central authority he was acknowledging the some of the basic tenets I think of the Republican doctrine but then you know if remarkably threads to ensure competition and fair play. Don't you feel like he was RON NEHRING: This is nothing new for president Obama he used the strategy of erecting strawman where he claims that will we still need rules notes advocating that we don't need rules of the marketplace that's ridiculous but we see this type of strategy employed all the time that the real challenge we have right now is that this economy our American economy is growing such an anemic slow rate, it is the worst recovery we've had coming out of any recession since World War II and because of the slow rate of growth we are not generating revenue that the federal government needs in order to bring the debt down and we are also not providing opportunity for those people graduating from college the best program we can provide the college kids today is a job, but a slow-growing economy at 1% that's been hampered by taxes and regulations and Obama care that's coming out of Washington is going to generate opportunities that the real problem for the new generation of Americans graduating from college. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Francine, you talked about the hard choices to reduce health care and the deficit how is the president going to do that? FRANCINE BUSBY: There's no secret that the increasing cost of health care is the number one cause for families businesses and the government. You decrease the cost of healthcare make effective and efficient and also so benefit from that. There is no secret to that and anyone who's interested in deficit reduction in the budget should be putting up front and center and not considering that type of topic a strawman. The other thing I think that Obama touched on by Mr. Nehring just mentioned is one of the reasons why Democrats and Republicans are talking to each other but on completely different storylines. The economic growth of the country has come back and it is growing slowly, but steadily from a freefall that we were in a few years ago. And more importantly the stock market is something so some Americans are doing extremely well while others are trying to find jobs, which gratefully the unemployment rates are diminishing, so we are going in the right direction. But continue to bring up these differences about regulations and deficit reduction when you're not willing to face the fact that healthcare costs are one of the best ways to reduce it and to say that we are growing any medically when some Americans are becoming quite wealthy and others poor is really ignoring the big issue on the table which is how do we make all Americans go forward and that is the message that Barack Obama was delivering this morning. ALLISON ST. JOHN: One of the places that the Democratic Party is relatively successful in San Diego is reaching out to more diverse electorate but if you like you reached out enough to the economic engine the small businesses of the community? FRANCINE BUSBY: A few weeks of online registration 20,000 people registered for the Democratic Party's wedding people are reaching out to the Democratic Party as much as we are reaching out to them. With that kind of unsolicited voter registration we are seeing that people, small business people, students, businessmen, large business corporations, public employees teachers marriages families are saying that the Democrats are talking about issues that impact their lives and want to take this agenda forward to improve everybody's quality-of-life. ALLISON ST. JOHN: And you think you've reached out enough to the business community? FRANCINE BUSBY: We plan to reject even marijuana make sure the leaders are meeting meeting with business leaders make sure there's dialogue but I think weShared priorities looking at the climate issue that the president brought up is a huge issue economically in San Diego is a quality-of-life issue and it's a progressive issues so he although he then handed we benefit if we move the agenda forward. ALLISON ST. JOHN: Ron, diversity is one of the big challenges and another Republican party did huge amount of campaigning especially door-to-door sales of eight during election but it doesn't seem to have paid off what is the strategy to overcome that? RON NEHRING: I think there's a couple things that need to be addressed and if we are going to get the economy moving here in San DiegoAnd By the Way, California suffer disproportionately in the Barack Obama economy ALLISON ST. JOHN: I understand the state is recovering a little bit faster than some other economies? RON NEHRING: And there's anybody who would not want to trade in California unemployment rate for the Texas unemployment rate right now and what we see in California is that small businesses are taking it on the chin and small businesses not. So hostile they've made all the border statesThat border is, posters sixes and by comparison to go back to the questionIn terms ofAnd the Latino vote. The sense and the countries that they've left is behind the Republican Party is the party that wants to preserve the opportunity for everyone. We have not made that message, the candidates have not been effective in doing and they need to do a much better job and the message is going to be loud and clear that the candidates need to focus on that otherwise you can just hang it up and we will not be successful in California. ALLISON ST. JOHN: One of the things you have done is promoted a Latina, Francis Brazas, talk about what you hope she can accomplish. RON NEHRING: Francis is one of many Latinos that are active in the Republican Party whenever state Republican chairman and traveled throughout the state we have lots of folks at Latino community that are not as highly visible but they are growing in number and I think is particularly encouraging. Princess has been a member of the team and the staff of the party for several years she's been promoted to Executive Director she has a lot of ideas. We are not going to telegraph them all in advance to our friends in the Democratic Party but Republicans recognize the importance of this and it is and we will tackle head-on because we think our ideas of economic freedom and opportunity work for everyone. ALLISON ST. JOHN: So Francine the Republican Party has taken a bit of a stumble it is obviously not going to take it lying down so I want to ask you what the Democratic Party plans to do I mean it's a long time until the next election, where do you start building the next platform. FRANCINE BUSBY: I think Mr. Nehring said something important this is a matter of demographic shift yes there have been demographic shifts that influence the electorate and registration and it made a difference but it's also the policy. When you have a Republican Party that basically had a war on women with hundreds and hundreds of legislation at the national level and throughout different states limiting their rights when they are opposed to reasonable immigration reform, would be opposed to Mr. H, same-sex marriage these are the issues that are appealing to these diverse groups that we've been talking about so what we need to do as Democrats is deliver. We have more people acted in this county and city we ever have and they are in positions are policy I think you will see a shift in sandbag because an account. We have other cities that have shifted majorities to a more progressive majority you will see a cell phone transit collaboration with Mexico and the Latino communities. Mayor Filner has made it very clear that everybody pays taxes, everyone should benefit from Texas so our communities will start seeing that they are important in the city to not just downtown so we have to put the money where the mouth is and have to deliver in the Democratic Party wants to be part of the governance of elected officials. ALLISON ST. JOHN: That's Francine Busby, recently elected Democratic chair one more question for you, John, Ron, your leadership has not changed with a discussion of the party but changing the leadership beyond electing a new Executive Director because ideas need to be changed RON NEHRING: and we recognize that: Republican Party has five things to do that is our focus and that is why we have the strongest county Republican parties in the country here in San Diego it doesn't make us immune from national waves and this was clearly only selection a shot across the country democratic benefited in ways I think it would be a mistake to assume that Republican campaign is a small grassroots organization here that's why we've had success like the most election officials in San Diego County are Republicans and you include the city and County that's positive we're going to continue in the direction the candidates need to do a better job reaching out to diverse communities and we will help them do that. ALLISON ST. JOHN: I want to thank you both. I appreciate you both being willing to come in and sit side-by-side and talked about your respective strategies. Francine Busby, chair of the San Diego Democratic Party, thank you Francine FRANCINE BUSBY: Thank you for having me ALLISON ST. JOHN: And Ron Nehring, chair of the San Diego Republican Party here in San Diego thank you for being here. RON NEHRING: My pleasure.

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."

Corrected: June 18, 2024 at 8:15 AM PDT
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.