Nathan Fletcher makes a comeback

Old Irwin’s network

Nathan Fletcher (and political backer Irwin Jacobs)...setting up for a political office comeback?
  • Nathan Fletcher (and political backer Irwin Jacobs)...setting up for a political office comeback?

Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher, a favorite of SDSU’s KPBS public broadcasting outfit — whose gadget-filled “newsroom of the future” was paid for with $2.9 million from La Jolla billionaire and Fletcher backer Irwin Jacobs — is making a comeback of sorts on San Diego’s rubber-chicken circuit.

Fletcher lost two races for mayor, the last in 2013 after a significant bashing from the then–U-T San Diego and its publisher Douglas Manchester. Ever since the GOP kingpin flipped the paper to Chicago-based Tribune in May, there’s been speculation that the flagging news operation would ultimately end up in the hands of Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, a longtime friend and political ally of Jacobs.

Such a move could enable yet another Fletcher comeback try, and the self-styled war hero has of late been raising his political profile, appearing with president Barack Obama at the White House to endorse the Iran nuclear deal, backing city council candidates, showing up for KPBS interviews, and dating Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez.

The threat is palpable enough that wealthy backers of incumbent GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer have reportedly been out polling about Fletcher’s popularity. His latest speaking engagement is set for November 14 at downtown’s Bristol Hotel, where he will keynote the Diplomacy Day dinner of the San Diego Diplomacy Council.

“Join us for a celebration of global citizenry in San Diego with an evening of international food and wine,” says the invitation, which adds that the event will “provide networking opportunities with local community leaders and politicians.”

After Fletcher was termed out of the state Assembly in 2012, he was named senior director for global strategic initiatives for Qualcomm, the giant chip-maker co-founded by Jacobs. As it happens, a key board member of the Diplomacy Council is another Jacobs loyalist, Qualcomm senior engineer Ram Rajagopalan.

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More billionaires meddling in pubic affairs. This is why we need public funding for public elections.

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