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Pres. Biden stumps for Rep. Mike Levin in tight 49th District race

 November 4, 2022 at 5:34 PM PDT

S1: President Biden makes a pre-election Day visit to San Diego's North County. His visit was essentially a campaign rally to motivate voters to get out and vote for Mike Levin's reelection in the 49th. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS midday edition. A deceased candidate remains on the Chula Vista ballot. It's not politics. It's about love of a man. It had a terrific character. And it's just appalling to me that that would be interpreted that way. And a free circus and a new opera are two of our weekend preview events. That's ahead on Midday Edition. President Joe Biden rounded out his visit in San Diego this morning with a visit to ViaSat Global Communications in Carlsbad. Biden arrived last night to speak at a rally in Oceanside in support of Congressman Mike Levin. The 49th Congressional District race was once considered a fairly easy win for incumbent Levin , but changes in the district's boundaries and a motivated Republican base have breathed new life into the campaign of Republican challenger Brian Marriott. Democrats hope that President Biden's visit will boost turnout and rally support with his message that democracy itself is on the ballot in this election. And joining me is KPBS , North County reporter Tanya Thorne. Tanya , welcome. Thanks , Maureen. So what was the president's rally like last night in Oceanside ? Well , it was exciting. A lot of security because , of course , as you know , we're dealing with the president here. So it was just very energetic. I would say the room was just full of energy as Mike Levin spoke. And President Joe Biden , I think , you know , that's that was the big focus on this event , is to energize voters and and just have them be excited about getting out to vote , but vote specifically for Democratic candidates. And I was there watching the crowds and just get really excited as both Mike Levin and President Joe Biden got up on the stage. And so I stayed until the very end. And I spoke to Alexandria Radcliff and Oceanside resident who attended the event , and we spoke to her after the rally. Here she is. Every time Roe was mentioned , the floor just rumbled. And I know everybody was just stepping on , you know , making the floor shake and wink. So I think that's going to be like the hidden issue that a lot of people are voting for. So what prompted the president to fly clear across the country to the 49th District this week ? You know , well , as you know , we're at the tail end of midterm elections. And President Biden's visit to San Diego comes as the 49th District race is getting very tight. So his visit was essentially a campaign rally to motivate voters to get out and vote for Mike Levin's reelection in the 49th and to vote for as many Democratic candidates in other races , too. Here's a little bit of what he had to say about Mike Levin's progress as the 49th District representative.

S2: This guy delivers. He delivers. He lowers costs for families. Caring for our veterans , protecting the environment. These are big deals rebuilding our infrastructure , protecting Social Security , Medicare. And and he's fighting to protect democracy.

S1: Has there been any negative response to the president's visit , I would imagine , from political opponents or local Republicans ? Yes , of course , there's always two sides. So there was definitely some protesters outside of America's state college yesterday ahead of his visit. Some were waving Trump flags. Vote Republican signs and signs condemning Joe Biden as the worst president. And ahead of the president's visit , I did reach out to Republican candidate Brian Marriott and his team , but I didn't hear anything back. The California GOP did release a statement saying Biden's visit was a last ditch effort by Levin to save his job , saying he , quote , bizarrely summoned an unpopular president whose radically regressive agenda has delivered sky high inflation , record high gas prices and ever increasing cost of living to residents of the 49th District. You mentioned that the 49th District race has tightened up in the last weeks. Why is that ? Do we know the reasons for that ? You know what ? Levin had quite a lead in the primaries against Republican candidate Brian Marriott. But recent polls are speculating that Marriott has gained more support and momentum. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report says this race is now a toss up. And I actually went out and talk to voters throughout the 49th District , which now straddles North San Diego County and southern Orange County cities , and learned about what issues are on their mind as they vote for representative. And honestly , a lot of talk about inflation and the economy and Marriott's background is in finances. So that could be a reason as to why more voters are gravitating towards him. And it could also be tied to the redistricting of the 49th map and that Orange County voters have voted Republican in the past. So a lot of different factors that have led to this race getting very interesting. And what is the tone of the president's visit to Southern California ? What are the issues the president's been focusing on ? You know , well , I think his visit , the tone of his visit is to really energize voters , to actually get out and cast their vote specifically for Democrats. And , you know , his visit and during his visit , he's also showing off the progress his office has made. I know today he is still in San Diego and he'll be speaking at ViaSat in. Carlsbad , which is a global communications company. He will be talking about the passage of his Chips and Science Act and how employees like ViaSat will benefit from this bill and getting more chips manufactured here in America. He says the passage of this bill will reduce American's reliance on overseas chips manufacturers and reduce the cost for American consumers. President Biden spoke about what he feels is at stake for next week's election. What did he say about that ? Well , San Diego hasn't been his only campaign rally stop. He also made stops in Florida and New Mexico , I believe , and a main topic in his discourses , democracy , the protection of democracy. Take a listen at some of what he had to say at last night's rally , urging voters to vote for more Democratic candidates.

S2: You know , all the state legislative races , all the local races , they are critically , critically , critically important. Not a joke are going to determine whether our democracy sustained. The other team is looking to do some things that don't allow for the the way in which we count our votes. The things are different these days.

S1: I've been speaking with KPBS North County reporter Tanya Thorne. And , Tanya , thanks. Thank you , Maureen. The San Diego Democratic Party is promoting a dead candidate in the Chula Vista City attorney race. KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis says if the late Simon Silva wins , the city may be forced to spend $2 million in a special election.

S3: Democrat Simon Silva won the primary with 49% of the votes. He was endorsed by Mayor Mary Salazar and the San Diego County Democratic Party. All of that made him a heavy favorite to defeat his opponent , Dan Smith , in the general election. That is until the 56 year old died of cancer in early September. In addition to being a tragedy , Silva's death also complicates Chula Vista selection. So much so that City council members asked for legal advice during a public meeting in September. They wanted to know what would happen if Silva wins. City clerk Carrie Bigelow gave them their answer.

S1: But if there is a vacancy , then the only option is a special a special election.

S3: Bigelow says that a special election would cost Chula Vista taxpayers between 1.5 and $2 million. And Chula Vista doesn't have that kind of money to spend. The city has a structural budget deficit. That's forced the city council to cut services in recent years. So it's come as a bit of a shock to some residents that Mayor Sallis and other Democrats are still campaigning for Silva , even though electing him would cost the city millions. One local resident asked the mayor why she continues to publicly support the dead candidate.

S4: Why , Madam Mayor , are you promoting Simon Silva for office by placing a sign in your front yard ? That puzzles me and it makes me feel like our city council and our mayor are playing politics with this election.

S3: The mayor was visibly offended by the question.

S1: I think it's shameful that you're bringing this up. I have his sign in my yard is in memory of him as a as a gesture of respect. And so I think the only ones that are being disrespectful here are the ones that are talking about us playing politics with this.

S3: Sallah said that she couldn't really understand how people might interpret a campaign sign on her front lawn as a political statement.

S1: It's just beyond belief to me , and for you to even ask me what my motives are , I'm putting a sign in my yard to respect somebody's. It's not politics. It's about love of a man that had a terrific character. And it's just appalling to me that that would be interpreted that way.

S3: But that's exactly how a number of people are interpreting it , including Smith , Silver's Republican opponent. He says that city leaders and the local Democratic Party are still out early supporting the deceased candidate.

S2: I think that the city in general that the voters would think that the $1.5 million , I believe that Ms.. Bigelow was talking about would be so much better spent. Police officers , firefighters , removing graffiti , homeless , all these issues.

S3: The local Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment. To make this election even more uncertain. There is one scenario in which the city Council could appoint a city attorney instead of holding a special election if Silva wins. The city charter stipulates that current city attorney Glenn Goggins would remain in office until the special election. But what happens if Google's resigns ? And outside counsel Alina Shamas had the answer.

S1: If Mr. Gubbins does resign , then it is our interpretation of the Charter that there is some discretion for the City Council to appoint a new city attorney.

S3: However , Google's confirmed this week that he plans to continue serving as the interim city attorney until his successor is elected. Gustavo Solis , KPBS News.

S1: This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. For our weekend preview , we have the ballet , a powerful photography exhibit , music and some giant puppets. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And Julia , welcome. Hi , Maureen. Thanks for having me. Now , first , there's a free circus and puppetry performance at North Park Community Park. Tell us about Bread and Puppet theater. Yeah. Bread and Puppet Theater. They are a world renowned touring puppet troupe from Vermont and three local groups. First Street Circus , Animal Cracker Conspiracy and San Diego Guild of Puppetry have come together to bring them to town. And Bread and Puppet Theater have these spectacular shows. There's giant puppets , masks , stilt walkers. They have dancing and music as well. And their philosophy is that art and the theater are as essential as bread. So they also break bread with the audiences , literally breaking bread. Saturday , Right. In fact , it's a famous recipe. And this will all happen at a free show outdoors at the North Park Community Park. And they'll also have a low cost art and book sale at the end of it. That's 2:00 on Sunday. That sounds great. Now next , San Diego Dance Theater has some performances this weekend , but they're also pairing it with a dance photography exhibition. What can you tell us about that ? Yeah , the production is called Up close and personal , as is the photography exhibition. There's two world premieres in the show on the down side of things , and one is from San Diego Dance Theater artistic director Terry Wilson. Also guest artist Bernard Brown. Others will be longtime artistic director Jeanne Isaacs. Living a rich desert , you know , and come with some fun. And if you remember that name , it's from a photography exhibit that was at Art , produced last winter by photographer Doug McMenamin. He did a production of all of someone's choreography called Purposely Accidental , and it was about war torn Laos. And that photography exhibit will also come to San Diego Dance Theater. And another photography exhibition opens at San Diego Museum of Art this weekend with the work of Lisa Ross. It's called Elegy to a Weaker Homeland. What do you know about that ? Yeah , this is one of three contemporary solo exhibitions that are going to be setting a Museum of Art this fall. And photographer Lisa Ross spent years over a decade with the weaker people in western China. And we guys are a muslim people and they have faced what the United Nations recently called serious human rights violations at the hands of Chinese authorities. And Lisa Ross has lost contact recently with many of their subjects and collaborators. And the photography that Lisa Ross did , documents with the holy sites and the monuments along the former pilgrimage route. The photography is stark and it's sculptural. These are wooden monuments made of sticks and and torn up brightly colored flags. And it's all set against this pale desert and pale sky. But their work also shows the intersection of these monuments with how the workers bring their beds outside to kind of beat the heat. The beds are framed in the same way as the monuments. This exhibit opens on Saturday , and it will be on view through March 5th. Now , there are just two shows left of San Diego Opera's new production of El Ultimo Sueno de Frida Diego The Last Dream of Frida and Diego. You were there opening night , Julia. Tell us about it. So it is a beautiful production and the story is it's DIA de los Muertos after Frida Kahlo's death. And much of it kind of follows how she is grappling with this decision , whether she will return to the world of the living for one day to see her husband , Diego Rivera , and also to paint the music. It's sweeping and cinematic and it's also subtle when needed. This is by composer Gabriela Lena Frank , and the libretto by Nilo Cruz Libretto is the sung script. This is funny , it's endearing , it's super approachable , it's sung in Spanish with Spanish and English supertitles , which I really loved. Frida and Diego. The characters are fantastic. These are two complicated people. They had a complicated relationship , and the characters in this opera are just well written and acted. But it's these two side characters that really shone at Catrina , who is the keeper of the souls. She's so funny. There's also Leonardo , who is a departed soul , and Leonardo wants to come back to the living as the actress Greta Garbo , just for the one day the set and the story bridge those two worlds really well. The living and the dead. It's kind of represented by the the bright. Colors in the sets , but there's also these other bridges that there's between disability and pain against the pain free afterlife. And also between pre-Hispanic , Mexico , and then the realities of 20th century Mexico , where Diego Rivera is still living. There's two shows left tonight at 730 and Sunday at two , and they also offer a chance for cheap rush tickets. These are at the venue by lining up 2 hours before each performance. Welcome to Las California's is a new two day music and arts festival held in Tijuana and via de Guadalupe. With some big plans for the future. Who's playing there and how can people in San Diego attend ? So this is the brainchild of two Hlengwa. They are a cross-border band , and one of the members is KPBS Port of Entry podcast host Alan Lilienthal. And this is a new festival that they are aiming to uplift border musicians and bring people together across the border to share art. And ultimately , Tango wants this to be a kind of border region , south by southwest , with shows on both sides of the border. But for this year , the two days both shows are in Mexico. Bands include Jahil , Rod , Maia , Lucid Juice , Anita Guy and Nagra and tons more. And day one is in Tijuana. It starts tonight at 630. And they're offering a special guided walking group. That's for people who want to meet in San Diego on the San Diego side of the border and walk across , walk to the venue together. And tickets for tonight start at just $15. And day two is at the Blood Lust Wine bar in Via Guadalupe. And that kicks off at 3 p.m. on Saturday. And Tango will play both days. It's it's kind of billed as a weekend with two lengua and friends and two language music. Is this almost undefinable mix of rap , hip hop , cumbia and pop. This track that we're listening to right now is Purple Planet , and it's from their latest EP.

S2: Get them on. I see. Sure. Make them again ? Yes.

S1: You can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts newsletter at KPBS Dawgs Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks. Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

S2: And again , the cornerstone of the first brand.

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President Joe Biden rounded out his visit in San Diego Friday morning with a visit to ViaSat-Global Communications in Carlsbad. The president arrived Thursday night to speak at a rally in Oceanside in support of Congressman Mike Levin. Next, the San Diego Democratic Party is promoting a deceased candidate in the Chula Vista City Attorney race. If the late Simon Silva wins, the city may be forced to spend $2 million on a special election. And finally, For our Weekend Preview, we have the ballet, a powerful photography exhibit, music and some giant puppets.