Roundtable: The California Primary In Perspective
Donald Trump tries to calm weary Republicans. Hillary Clinton makes history. San Diego voters set up showdowns in November and important races for city Council and city attorney. And easy crews to reelection for Mayor Kevin Faulconer whose style is different from Bernie Sanders or Trump. I'm Mark Sauer, The Roundtable starts now. Welcome to the discussion of the week's top stories. Joining me at The Roundtable are Michael Smolens, politics editor for the San Diego Union Tribune. Scott Lewis, editor in chief of the Voice of San Diego. Laura Wingard, news and digital editor for KPBS. Democrats in California and across the nation made history by choosing the first woman to had a major party ticket for president. Here is Hillary Clinton acknowledging her big three, paying tribute to her mother and taking a swipe at Donald Trump. My mother believed that life is [ Indiscernible ] others. She taught me never to back down from a bully, which it turns out was pretty good advice. At the same time the GOP nominee was being called out for races comments and for lacking the temperament to be president, this was from fellow Republicans. Not quite the coronation that Hillary and her supporters were thinking about a year ago. It is rather remarkable that the historic moment that we had, that seem to be a secondary issue. We are so familiar with Hillary Clinton, the expectation that she would be the nominee, might've taken a little bit out of the wind of the sales. As far as the race, people have been wringing their hands, we thought it was great as a journalist. It prepared her for a race against Donald Trump. She noted in that same speech the plate, -- we played, her mother was born in 1990 -- 1919, when women first got the right to vote. It's going to be -- it would've always been an issue with Donald Trump and his nature about women and minorities. It will be less than it would've been if it was a different woman. We are very familiar with Hillary Clinton. It will be a factor. I would think it's a plus, it will into Czyz -- energize women. I think because she is so known, it is different. We already know that Trump is talking and has said things like he will go after Bill Clinton and his philandering, how Hillary enabled him. Those kinds of issues, are going to come out and be said. Is Hillary sympathetic? To a lot of people she is not. She is controversial and she certainly has gotten a lot of negative publicity. That was one question I wanted to throw to the panel. You bring it up nicely, there are so many folks that just have a negative image of Hillary Clinton. Why do people hater? It's probably a coping mechanism to make clear, why they are against her. You have to drive up the animosity, she has a lot of policies that indicate she'd be more willing to go to war on some things. She represents a more neoliberal perspective. If you are of the Socialist are left-wing part of the party, there are a lot of reasons to be upset. On the right, they've been upset and dealing with her for a long time and driven up, policy concerns about universal health concerns, but conspiracy theories, why she took money for speeches and won't tell us what she said. Trump has hinted that she murdered Vince Foster, the aid from the Clinton years in the 90s. I don't have any idea. I'm just asking questions. We will see, as this plays out over the next several months. We are talking about the Democrats trying to unite, the strong run that Bernie had. It wasn't nearly as close as 2008 when Senator. Clinton almost overtook Barack Obama. That was another historic race. We often see the big movements and the turnout is different, bringing more people. It never quite materializes. We will have to see, when people get into the numbers, there was a lot of notion that the Millennials -- did they vote? There was concern in California that the rallies and concerts are great, that does not get people to vote. You might have fallen short there, in my opinion. Clinton had clinched it, almost certainly before then. Than the night before, AP came out and said she had the numbers. That was a factor as well. Shifting to the Republican side, Trump doubled his criticism of our district urge saying these biased and unfair. Judge curio. As a lawyer and member of our association and American, it's insulting to reduce anyone to their cultural heritage. Particularly, when evaluating whether or not they can carry out their duties as a judge. What's the reaction been to GOP leaders to these accusations? They are still wringing their hands, those comments have cause them a lot of heartburn. It's had people in difficult positions, Paul Ryan as speaker, demanded him to take them back, but says he still supportive. They are looking for him to act like a candidate normally acts after primary, where they moved to the center and become moderate. That won't work in the general election, we've seen indication, Teleprompter speeches that of pulled in the Donald Trump Access. Then he will go out and say something more, the Republican Party is in such a spot, Mitt Romney is having his retreat, they are talking about the near future, they're talking about post Trump. The big thing is, will he act like a normal candidate? We've got to move on. In five more months. We will have plenty more bites of this apple. Even the opponents for San Diego city attorney agree that it's hard to explain what the job entails. It's no surprise that one of the top two candidates was a surprise. Scott will have a run off in November and who will it be? Robert Hickey is the only Republican, he's advancing. The big contest was who is going to advance with them. Mara Elliot, the deputy attorney, she will be the one to run off. Throughout this campaign, as this played out on the Democratic side, she would go from Democratic club to Democratic club, each seeking endorse -- to endorse. They all chose someone else other than her. None of that mattered. She ended up advancing. Most people are assuming, precisely because her ballot designation was deputy city attorney. If you're Ohlone -- low information voter, you assume that she knows what she's doing. She was also the only woman on the ballot. It just shows, without a giant amount of money, nobody contributed a significant amount of money to any of the candidates. She came in with only $200,000, much less, she is not going to have as much trouble this time. It will shape up. Do you think it will be a closer race? Definitely. The dynamics of a November runoff favor a Democrat, like her. The Republicans will be United be behind Robert Hickey. They want to protect the pension reform that was just enacted. They are fired up to protect that. It will be an interesting battle. We do have a bite from Mara Elliot, explaining how see she's the job. Persimmon coming in from the outside, without a strong civil background. It will be a challenge. Even when it comes to our criminal division, Bob Cross up -- prosecutes felonies. How do you campaign for a job like this, when it's not that high profile? She did kind of fly under the radar. There's a lot of low interest voters on a race like that, or load knowledge voters -- low knowledge voters. The fact that she was the only woman, some of the candidates were bringing it to a different level. Generally, voters are familiar with what city attorneys are and they are not the people that come up with these grand plans. Some of the tactics might have worked against them, in that regard. Laura? The fact that she came out so hard on election night to say, this is a guy who prosecutes gaining -- murderers. That's his expertise. She came out strong, this suggests that she will go at him. Scott? I interviewed each candidate and she was the only one who said she doesn't think the city attorney should be in elected office. It will be interesting to see if she pursues that now. There are a lot of people in the city that would be open to that, given the controversial city attorney things we've had in the past. She worked at the County Council, where it is disappointed by a board. That's where she came to the city from, that's what she said her model is. That's her approach to the office, to be deferential to the city Council and to the mayor. That's much different than a few years ago. Even Jan Goldsmith who gets involved, she is the president -- present official. For the longest time, John Wick was the attorney for the city and when the city was sued, that's what the approach was. Micah Gary came in and wanted to prosecute everyone at City Hall, to a degree there's a legitimate it boasts legitimacy that he might have taken it to an extreme. What is the role when it selected? She thinks, clearly according to her interview, there should be a more defined role. Laura? Robert Hickey has a lot of money. He raised $442,000. She raise 107,000 He raised $442,000. She raise $107,000. He had popular support. I thought on election night, he mentioned Bonnie. No. There is animosity between him and Bonnie. She demoted him from management and refuse to enforce them. IAM a low information voter and I would've thought that she supported him. I would expect her to endorse Morrow. Does that bring up the question, endorsements have become that much more important? Will she get those? This belies our understanding of money and endorsements in this race. I don't know how it will play out. If she can be known as the Democrat running, if there is an anti-Trump wave. We will see how that plays out, maybe we will get that race back on the radar. We are going to move on. Speaking of coronations, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer came close to winning reelection, while hardly breaking a sweat. Laura, how did Faulconer go from having to wage a tough fight He said money, the unions are on his side. He's been able to help the police and firefighters. He's got the municipal employees Association. The 911 response times was the only issue that came in. They were once rivals in a bitter city Council race. They became the best of buddies. Now, they are there with two cat. To see the perfect guy? For people who are tired of the conflict? He is good at identifying the things that he can't change. He will absorb it and champion it as his own. Is super cautious, he is also hyperaware of the fact that he is on borrowed time. He's pro-immigration reform in the sense of a comprehensive path to citizenship. He's pro-climate action, he's embraced the municipal employees Association, the biggest city labor union. He has recognize that you can't fight everything, especially as a white Republican. He's going to have to make it clear that he's not going to be controversy help. Now the question, the lack of leadership has left a vacuum. Other leadership comes up to try and fill that. Will he not take this mandate to do something or really just let other people define the city. Michael? Time and again, right out of the box he was focused on the more Democrat, minority neighborhoods. That was -- it almost look like the city councilman was his running mate, he was showing up in your district so often. Francine Busby said he almost ran is a Democrat. I agree with Scott and a lot of people, there were no big initiatives. He reads San Diego well. The times are good, there is money, he can give money out, there's no controversy or fight over the budget. After the film in meltdown, -- Filleman meltdown. There were different kinds of candidates, that were potential. We had so many elections, we haven't talked enough about the stability that he brought. It might've been anybody that got elected. I don't want to disregard his -- I think that was a big part of it. Scott Raes the question, what's next. I had always thought he would never do anything on the Stadium until he was reelected. Does it give them more leverage? I think it does. What he does with it, I don't know. This is his time to be a leader. Help the citizens figure out the plan. What are we going to do. The Chargers today, delivered their signatures to the city clerk's office. It looks like that will make the ballot. We of the citizens plan, it would help to have a Mayor who has 158% of the vote and finally say, what he thinks. He has dodged the question. How does he get away with dodging that? He said it's illegal, that's my position. The Chargers thing is more nuanced. We've all written or reported our broadcast, just for him to go for tax increase, seems so unlikely. Particularly with his allies lining up against the Chargers. Infrastructure is the biggest thing going. He wouldn't go for a bond to increase taxes and has a middling thing. He's worked so hard to keep the Chargers here. [ Indiscernible-multiple speakers ] It would be a shock to support this if it's on the ballot. Can they win without him? This does set up a bite that we have. Here's part of his answer to Steve Walsh's question on election night. We've got to work closely together in San Diego, to do what's right. Tonight's strong numbers, across the aisle, Republican, Democrat and independent. I think it affirms the right approach. Not just locally, but what we need to see more of in our state and country. We will hear, I guess not a lot from the mayor here. He will quietly do what is going to do. Let's move on to city Council race where there are showdowns in November. The big one in district 1, Barbara Bry almost 1 she will face Republican Ray Ellis in November. Why is that, Scott? The most significant is that it will protect the city Council majority for the Democrats. In particular who gets to be Council President. It creates a rivalry between the Council President and the mayor. Also, there are different priorities in the ballot. I don't think it's impossible that she might get over that 50%. A lot of things can change. You can technically, still send your ballot in on the day of the election. Those ballots are still getting counted. Is ballpark on how many Bob Boesch ballots are still out there? Maybe 10,000. There are a lot of Republicans who think they should just end it, considering the November election tilts to the left. It's highly unlikely that she will do worse unless something changes dramatically. I wonder if Mayor Faulconer is winning the -- wishing that she won outright. He was looking for Ray Ellis to be an appointment -- opponent. She would have to be the odds-on favorite. If he knows this woman will be a key vote on the city Council, does he start finessing his support? He's shown that he can work with the Democratic majority. She's not a hard partisan, she's an entrepreneur, she is business sense. She's the kind of person he can deal with. You just wonder, to what point will he antagonized that? What are the issues that would separate these two? There's very little between them. The pension thing keeps coming up, a lot of the people who want to protect pension reform are worried that she doesn't support it. They ended up fighting about these highly technical arguments about the stadium financing. Laura? She supports the citizen plan. Both of them say they don't want any public money for Stadium, Ray Ellis says she supports the citizens plan. In a roundabout way, that could somehow involve public money. How you make that stick, just to bring that back to the presidential race, if you have a lot of Democrats showing up, Republicans that don't want to vote for Donald Trump and just stay away, all those will hurt Republican candidates. It could really affect someone like Ray Ellis. We will see how that plays out. That does wrap up another week of stories at the KPBS Roundtable. I'd like to think my guests. Sad news from Hockeytown, Detroit Red Wings great, Gordie Howe has died. Those of us who played and loved hockey will never forget old number 9. He was 88 years old, condolences to his family. I'm Mark Sauer, thanks for joining us today on the The Roundtable.
The race for president
When one wants to take the long view of a political event, it's essential to have a panel with expertise and with a certain longevity in the arena.
Laura Wingard of KPBS News, Michael Smolens of The San Diego Union-Tribune and Scott Lewis of Voice of San Diego have covered many an election, interviewed countless candidates and put what they learned into perspective for us, many times.
Even so, the 2016 presidential race is a species all its own, and perspective may be ephemeral at best.
As of now, the statewide tally for the Democratic nomination is not even all that close. Hillary Clinton has 55.9 percent of the vote to Bernie Sanders’ 43.2 percent, which surprised some pundits. Clinton has become the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. She will face presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who got 75.3 percent of Republican votes.
The issues and questions fostered by this campaign will continue to gnaw at us until it's over. The current big puzzler is: What Bernie Sanders will do now? Will he bow out gracefully and support Clinton, or fight through the Democratic convention? Will his supporters back Hillary? Will he leave a lasting imprint on Democratic party procedure and focus?
And what about Trump? Will he be able to curb his desire to say anything that pops into his head, including taunts many find racist and misogynistic? Will he be able to convince the Republican establishment he is worth supporting? Will he continue to use a teleprompter?
San Diego city attorney
Local Democratic donors didn’t really pay any attention to Mara Elliott’s candidacy for San Diego city attorney.
But Elliott bested the other three Democrats in the primary, two of whom — Gil Cabrera and Rafael Castellanos — combined to raise more than $700,000. Elliott, who waged a campaign with about $107,000, will face Republican Robert Hickey in the fall, who raised about $442,000.
Hickey finished first in the five-way contest, receiving 30 percent of the vote to Elliott's 24 percent.
Cabrera and Castellanos, as well as Democrat Bryan Pease, are all attorneys. But Elliott was the only candidate in the primary with actual experience in the City Attorney’s Office. Hickey is a deputy district attorney who has prosecuted gang cases for San Diego County — criminal experience that Elliott lacks. If elected, Elliott would be the city’s first female city attorney.
The City Attorney's Office prosecutes misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, as well as giving advice to all the city departments in government law.
San Diego City Council District 1
Democrat Barbara Bry fell just short of an outright victory for San Diego's District 1 City Council seat, with 49 percent of the vote. She needed more than 50 percent to avoid a November runoff. In a five-person race, Republican Ray Ellis was second with 34 percent of the vote.
District 1 is crucial to city politics because if Ellis wins the Democrats would lose their 5-4 majority on the City Council.
Ellis outspent Bry, but both were responsible for the felling of dozens of trees for their mailer avalanches. The big issue here: who supports which version of a downtown stadium — or not.
The mayor's race
Until independent Lori Sandaña and Democrat Ed Harris got into the mayor’s race this year, it looked like Republican Kevin Faulconer would run unopposed. Even when the issue of poor 911 emergency response times emerged late in the campaign — and for which the mayor took some heat — Faulconer easily won re-election with 58 percent of the vote.
Faulconer has credentials as a moderate, and he likes to bill himself as a consensus-builder. He has actively touted his Climate Action Plan, which found approval in environmental quarters, and he promised the city would repair 1,000 miles of streets.
It all added up to a big win on Tuesday.