Will an early Alvarez get the political cash?

Democratic councilman already fundraising for 2020 supervisor bid

David Alvarez
  • David Alvarez

If they can't be mayor of San Diego, maybe races for county supervisor will work out, keeping two well-known San Diego politicos in the good financial graces of La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.

Jacobs-backed Nathan Fletcher, long said to be mulling a 2018 bid for the District 4 seat of termed-out county supervisor Ron Roberts, has been raising his public profile of late by tweeting from Switzerland. The World Economic Forum, of which the Jacobs co-founded Qualcomm is a "strategic partner," per the event's website, is being held in Davos.

Meanwhile, San Diego city councilman David Alvarez, whose second-place finish in 2013's mayoral contest relegated fellow Democrat Fletcher to third, has just disclosed a putative try for the District 1 seat of termed-out GOP county supervisor Greg Cox, with a new political fundraising committee called David Alvarez for Supervisor 2020, filed January 11 with the county Registrar of Voters.

Nathan Fletcher and Lorena Gonzalez

Nathan Fletcher and Lorena Gonzalez

Newly married to high-profile Democratic assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Fletcher, an ex-Republican member of the Assembly who became an independent and then a Democrat as he twice struggled to get elected San Diego mayor, has yet to declare his future political intentions.

Word on the street has it that Jacobs and his sons, regular seekers of governmental favor, are prepared to bankroll yet another run for Fletcher, who became a Qualcomm executive after leaving the Assembly in late 2012.

The elder Jacobs — whose most recent local political foray involved an undisclosed private summit with Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer in pursuit of a Balboa Park road and parking bulldozing plan, followed by a torrent of political money to the mayor's reelection fund from Qualcomm executives — is said to see himself as a political kingmaker despite disappointment over Hillary Clinton's presidential loss to Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton, Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Hillary Clinton, Irwin and Joan Jacobs

Had Clinton been victorious, insiders say, Fletcher's political fortunes would likely have been bolstered by White House appearances and other presidential dispensations courtesy of Jacobs, a heavy funder of Clinton’s White House ambitions. Now Fletcher's prospects are cloudier, but whether the Clinton setback is fatal to his political career remains to be seen.

Alvarez, who was the choice of big labor over Fletcher and Faulconer in 2013's mayoral joust, has since had a well-publicized falling out with controversial union leader Mickey Kasparian, who stands accused of sexual harassment by a former worker alleging he made "occasional demands for oral sex in his office [and] sexual intercourse in hotels paid for by Local 135, and similar sex acts."

The split caused Alvarez to turn to longtime GOP Lincoln Club member and fallen port commissioner David Malcolm for $10,000 to help pay for a battle with Kasparian over seats on the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee.

Fletcher's wife, Lorena Gonzalez, formerly secretary-treasurer and CEO of the Labor Council, who now goes by the name of Gonzalez Fletcher, endorsed Kasparian's slate in that battle.

For his part, Alvarez is a supporter of the controversial Jacobs Balboa Park road building plan, joining an 8-1 council majority to pass the project in November of last year.

As the Democrat begins his big-money supervisorial fundraising well ahead of the 2020 election cycle, city hall insiders are now looking to see if Jacobs and related Qualcomm sources chip in as generously for Alvarez as they have for the GOP’s Faulconer and other politicos backing their agenda.

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Surely there's a more direct route to a San Diego County Supervisor's seat than through the annual January clamor of the world's wealthiest citizens and hangers-on in Davos, Switzerland. Somehow that gathering today lacks the cachet that it had in the high-flying, big-money,"third-way" Clinton Years or subsequent Gilded Ages of Presidents Bush 1 and 2 or even in Obama's first term, before the hobbled Asia Pivot. Now it's powerful to gather at the new Trump Hotel D.C. But Davos' faded glory is good enough for the time being for Jacobs' new groom Nathan Fletcher Gonzalez.

Now that all of the four long-serving "supes" are termed out, there will be a massive free-for-all to determine their replacements. Much of what happens in the county in the coming half-century will be determined by these new officials. They may develop an enlightened attitude toward growth, or they may stay as sponsors for further sprawl. We've had one of the most growth-in-the-country supervisors in No County, and if he had his way, low-density, sprawling tracts of mini-mansions would characterize all the growth in this part of the county. But will a mass of Jacobs/Qualcomm money buy better governance, or just more of the same thing we've had for a long time? No, this Jacobs money isn't a force for good; rather, it perpetuates old-style local corruption, enabling ol' Irw to indulge his fantasies and desire for a monument to himself.

The Jacobs Family desire to control local politics is something we should all be concerned about. They support candidates from both parties to be able to influence what happens in the city for their benefit. And while their generosity in the community is real, they (especially the second generation) want to play monopoly with our city, just like Doug Manchester and others. I assume their support of Faulconer instead of the Democratic candidate (Ed Harris) for the 2016 mayoral race was partly about getting even with those who thwarted his Balboa Park plans, but even more because Harris wasn't going to govern for the rich and powerful of the city like Faulconer is doing.

The idea of anybody supporting ex-Lifeguard Ed Harris for Mayor is a stretch, let alone the influential Jacobs clan. Getting appointed temporarily to a City Council seat does not a Mayor make, Geranium. Mayor Sunny makes the job look fun and super-easy, but it actually takes more than even he brings to the table -- like, knowledge, vision and a drive to improve civic life.

I agree on the qualities you list that a mayor should have, and I agree Faulconer doesn't have them.

Didn't know David Alvarez had a new Committee. Interesting. Didn't know that Lorena Gonzalez endorsed the Kasparian Central Committee ticket. Interesting. Does seem as though Mr. Fletcher is running. Seems like large numbers of smaller donors could balance out the Jacobs clout? Is it all about his money? Is it not until 2020 that Sup. Cox is termed out? Seems like a long time for those term limits to kick in.

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