At the end of the first act in the musical, Evita, Juan Peron, after having won the Presidency of Argentina, opines, “Dice are rolling, the knives are out. Would-be presidents are all around. I don’t say they mean harm, but they’d each give an arm, to see us six feet underground.”
The would-be presidents – and would-be king makers – are all out in the race for County Supervisor in District Three. And, while there appears to be no shortage of “arms” being given, there does appear to be harm intended against Escondido City Council member Olga Diaz – Alianza North County’s endorsed candidate.
In a recent blog post on his site, WordsandDeedsBlog.com, Doug Porter – friend of Alianza North County – wrote about the Supervisor’s race. Like something from a scene from A Beautiful Mind, Porter threw unrelated news stories up on the wall and made connections among them to concoct a mind-blowing, poorly-thought-out indictment of Diaz, the likes of which she has faced for most of her political career.
It’s no surprise that I support Diaz. I supported her in her race for Escondido Mayor in 2014. In fact, I showed my support at Porter’s request in the San Diego Free Press (a publication for which Porter was an editor) with an article entitled “Latina Olga Diaz Aims for the Top Spot in Conservative Escondido.” I also interviewed and wrote about Diaz’s candidacy for Alianza North County’s endorsement of her race in articles found here and here. I take this moment to declare my bias up front, something Porter fails to do.
In his article, Porter – strangely, not unlike the attack pieces which have flowed from Terra Lawson-Remer (Diaz’s democrat opponent for the seat in the primary) – dredges up the past to hold Diaz accountable for things which were – and are – well beyond her control.
At the crux of his “non-endorsement” endorsement piece are two issues: “republican” money being spent to influence the race and the Escondido Country Club housing debacle. I will spend just a short amount of time on each.
First, the “republican” money being spent. Porter holds this high as an indictment of Diaz’s campaign. As he writes in his piece, the money being spent is for independently expenditures in the race. This means the Diaz campaign, by law, can have zero association and/or coordination with the groups who are spending the money.
After pointing this out, Porter writes this, “[f]or the 2020 primary, large sums of money “independently” supporting Escondido Democratic Councilwoman Olga Diaz are being funneled through the Lincoln Club and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce” and “[t]here is nothing illegal going on here, but you gotta wonder what else is motivating these folks supporting Diaz and opposing Lawson-Remer.”
Speculation and innuendo make for great blog content and, unfortunately, facts and objectivity can be thrown out the window. Porter chooses to put the word independently in quotes to “suggest” (see what I did there?) Diaz is actually working with these groups. He provides himself cover with the claim “there is nothing illegal going on here” but immediately stokes an Oliver Stone-level conspiracy theory with the “you gotta wonder” bit which follows.
He sets up this conspiracy with excerpts from an article attached to a VOSD podcast of interviews from both candidates and in which the author of the article – Jesse Marx – speculates about the race. Porter presents VOSD’s speculation as if it were fact, then proceeds to base his own further speculation upon it.
Second, Porter brings up everyone’s favorite developer to hate: Michael Schlesinger and the Escondido Country Club development debacle. The facts which he writes about the now six-year-old case are accurate. The conclusions he draws, and in turn asks us to draw, are off-base.
By reminding us of the bad things which Schlesinger did (dumping chicken manure on the golf course at one point), Porter makes another feeble attempt at making Diaz responsible for Schlesinger’s actions which, clearly, she wasn’t. And the fact that Schlesinger is putting money into the campaign against Diaz’s opponent is not her responsibility either.
For a point of clarity, I’ll remind our readers Escondido County Club was in its third bankruptcy at the time Schlesinger purchased it. While the residents of the Escondido County Club area wanted a golf course (because that’s what they had been promised when they bought their homes), they clearly didn’t choose to support it because membership had been in steep decline and the City of Escondido had turned the water off on the course. Twice.
Schlesinger is certainly not stupid when it comes to his involvement with campaigns. For full disclosure, I met with Schlesinger in 2014 when he wanted to help Diaz with her mayoral bid. He understood the need for total separation between his efforts and the campaign. He wanted to do everything he could at the time to help the Diaz’s campaign without crossing any lines. The idea he would throw all caution to the wind in 2020 is ridiculous.
Porter’s parting shot in his piece is probably his most unbelievable. As he writes, “In response, a labor-sponsored group has spent more than $122,000 on media opposing Diaz in support of Lawson-Remer. That makes sense. Labor = Democrats. A manure spreading developer getting involved in this race on the side of a Democrat, not so much.”
Porter clearly hasn’t seen the many pictures of union workers out canvassing and supporting Diaz. On any given day, IBEW, Iron Workers, and/or Sheet Metal Workers walk and talk for Diaz. It’s a shame – but not a surprise – SEIU has chosen to support Diaz’s opponent.
Lawson-Remer was the front person of the SEIU-funded “Flip the 49th” campaign which targeted Darrell Issa with protests in front of his Vista office every Tuesday. That they would continue to promote and fund their person is not unheard of or far-fetched. But Porter’s assertion (read: innuendo) that labor is against Diaz is far from the truth.
The ugliness of this campaign is reflective of the split within the Democratic Party nation-wide. Factions are fighting for their candidate and that’s what makes American-style democracy great. But an honest discussion and disagreement should be had, not innuendo and speculation. Voices who rise above the hysteria and muck racking should be heard and acknowledged; the gutter snipes should be relegated to the backwaters of history where they belong.
In a final bit of irony, Porter concludes his piece with this disclaimer: “Disclosure – While I have not endorsed in this contest, readers should know that Larry Remer, Lawson-Remer’s father, have known each other for 40 years, dating back to the days when were co-editors with the San Diego Door alternative newspaper.”
Larry Remer, the friend whom Porter mentions, has been a political consultant and was indicted on wire-fraud and theft charges in 2004. You may say this is all “old news.” But, what’s good for the goose is, as they say, good for the gander.
Larry Remer is no stranger to local, nasty politics and Porter’s “non-endorsement” endorsement of Remer’s daughter is suspicious at best. To quote someone germane to this story, “you gotta wonder” what Porter’s friendship with Remer had to do with this story.
One need look no further than a document which, according to the document properties, was written by Remer; it appears Porter quotes heavily from it. The document is 28 pages (five of the relevant pages are attached here) of cobbled-together attacks from various sources which present a years-old laundry list of things which Diaz is associated with, but things for which she is hardly responsible.
Excerpts from Remer Document attacking Diazremer_talking_points_memo
Perhaps it is sheer coincidence Porter wrote this blog post at this time. Perhaps his friendship with Remer, as quoted above, has something to do with it. Either way, the talking points from Remer have been circulating since the middle of last year; why Porter would decide to attack now could be blamed on the volume of attack mail which is being pushed out at this time, though the level of speculation as to why he actually wrote the piece is high.
The level of professionalism and experience Diaz brings to the race is insurmountable for someone like Lawson-Remer who is an unknown in San Diego politics. She has tried to make a name for herself but even those attempts have failed. A Superior Court judge in January of this year upheld a challenge to Lawson-Remer using the ballot designation “environmental attorney.” She had to change it “community organizer.” Her claims of being a “Senior Advisor in the Obama Administration” have fallen short upon closer examination; the best anyone can find is a fellowship which she was offered.
Research into the Treasury Department and Federal Employment Databases all show no record of Lawson-Remer actually being a “Senior Advisor” with in the Obama Administration. In fact, during the VOSD interview referenced above, Lawson-Remer references Dr. Lael Brainard as the “woman I worked for in the Obama Administration.” Again, a search through the records of Dr. Brainard’s staff during the years Lawson-Remer says she worked for the Treasury Department, show no mention of Lawson-Remer on federal payroll nor as a member of Dr. Brainard’s staff.
Surely, as a simple matter of credibility, Diaz has an established record to run on, regardless of how you feel about it. While Lawson-Remer’s father has done yeoman’s work to summarize the collective record of Diaz’s 11-year history on the Escondido City Council, everyone is hard-pressed to show any definitive proof of Lawson-Remer’s claims of political experience or expertise.
While internal conflict and disagreement are hallmarks of the American-style democracy we’ve all come to know and love, spin and deception are slowly creeping their way into the every day. We need to focus on the achievements and qualifications of someone like Diaz to fill this critical seat in our local government. The temptation to tear down a qualified candidate to the level of the inexperienced opponent is great and, quite frankly, proves to be lazy campaigning. Let’s take the higher road.
In an exchange between the characters Che and Evita in the musical Evita, she sings, “So what are my chances of honest advances. I say low, better to win by admitting my sin than to lose, with a halo.” Is this what has become of our political scene these days? I hope not. I have hope that the best qualified candidates will get the jobs we need them to be in. We need Olga Diaz in the County Board of Supervisors seat for the third district.
And to those who continue to foment hatred and give safe harbor to the seedier side of politics, I’ll quote Evita once more: “So go, if you’re able, to somewhere unstable and stay there! Whip up your hate in some tottering state! But, not here dear. Is that clear, dear?”
Editor’s note: This article was edited to reflect the correct title of “Senior Advisor,” not “Senior Analyst.”