Office hours: Partisan mayors and Prop 30

by Leonardo Castaneda

For this week’s edition of Office Hours, The Daily Aztec spoke to political science professor Dr. Brian Adams. He talked about Proposition 30 as a referendum on the state government, as well as the unusually partisan San Diego mayoral race. This is an excerpt of that inter- view. For more, visit

The Daily Aztec: Mayoral candidates Bob Filner and Carl De- Maio are seen as more partisan than previous San Diego mayors. Do you see the candidates moving toward the middle of the political spectrum?

Dr. Brian Adams: You’re abso- lutely right. DeMaio and Filner are much more partisan and extremist than any mayor that we’ve had in recent history. Both (current mayor Jerry) Sanders and (former mayor Dick) Murphy were moderate Republicans. Even when Pete Wilson was mayor, he was a moderate when he was mayor. He got more conserva- tive when he was governor. So, that’s something new. It really is something to have two sort of flame-throwing partisans.

Now something really interesting has happened, though.

Carl DeMaio has moderated significantly over the last couple of months. When he was on the council, he was a flamethrower. And not just against liberals but against the entire establishment. He was yelling and screaming against downtown business elites. He really angered a lot of people, including many Republicans. The last couple of months he’s formed alliances with many of the people he was arguing against. He was endorsed by Jerry Sanders (as well as) by various downtown busi- ness leaders and he’s moderated his position on many of these issues. If that’s any indication, it looks like if DeMaio were to be elected, he would be more along the lines of a standard Republican downtown business elite-sup- porter type. If you’d asked me six months ago, I would have said we have an election that would lead to a very different type of mayor because either one is going to be anti-establishment. DeMaio is saying he’s no longer anti-establishment, I’ve been shocked by how big of a change it’s been. Now, Filner is still that way. (Fil- ner is) not endorsed by any of the big players in city politics. If he gets elected, you really will see a very different type of mayor. Not just because he’s a Democrat, but he’s a Democrat that doesn’t have close ties to many of the major political players in San Diego.

DA: Do you think the fact that Filner is less moderate than DeMaio will work against him by turning people off and driving them toward DeMaio?

BA: I’m not sure people are paying enough attention to this election to know all the nuances of this. I really don’t know how people are going to be making their decision here. It’s formally a nonpartisan election, so on the ballot, they don’t get listed as Democrat, Republican. Obvious- ly, unions are supporting Filner and various Democratic organiza- tions are supporting Filner. And DeMaio has the support of many conservative organizations and so forth. I’m not sure whether those endorsements are really what’s going to be driving things. Or whether it’s going to be some- thing else that’s going on. Both of these candidates really aren’t very well known to the average San Dieagan. They are really well-know to people who fol- low politics closely, but for your average voter who doesn’t follow politics, they don’t know much about Filner and DeMaio other than maybe TV commercials, so they may make a difference here.

DA: What do you think is the big- gest trait or issue voters should know about each candidate?

BA: They should know that both of them are pretty partisan and (have) extreme views. Again, DeMaio has moderated some- what in the last few months. But I think the reality is, he is fairly extreme. They are a real contrast. They’re not Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They really are very, very different. One needs to know that it’s not just about personal- ity in this sense, where you say, “The candidates are fairly close in policy issues and I’ll just vote for the candidate I like the most.” That doesn’t make any sense here. They’re so far apart in policy issues. That really should be the focus of figuring out whether you want a far left candidate or a far right candidate to be mayor. That’s fundamentally what it comes down to.

DA: What do you think is the biggest issue San Diego State stu- dents should be paying attention to in these elections?

BA: Obviously, in terms of State students, the state budget is critical because San Diego State is funded in large part through the budget. Obviously, the tax propositions are the key thing.

If students only … had time to focus on one thing, I would not focus on the presidential race.

I would focus specifically on Proposition 30, because that’s really the proposition that is going to have the biggest direct impact on San Diego State … Worse case scenario, if it doesn’t pass and the other tax measures don’t pass, and the tax revenue is as low as people think it may be, we’re talking about catastrophic cuts to San Diego State. I’m not saying that they’re going to hap- pen necessarily. I think, in fact, it probably wouldn’t happen right away, but it could.