Newsmakers with JR
Notebook: Gina Out of District 6 Race
This just in: Gina Fischer, warp speed Dem activist and county supe’s aide, has made it official: she’s not running for the SB city council District 6 seat now held by appointed incumbent Meagan Harmon.
“Dear friends and loved ones, it pains me to write this email, but I want to let you know that I’ve decided to suspend my campaign for Santa Barbara City Council and will not pursue elected office this November,” Fischer e-blasted this week.
“I want to thank everyone who supported me in this endeavor - perhaps Brene Brown has best encapsulated what this experience has felt like, ‘If you’re brave with your life and choose to live in the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked.'"
The district representative for Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who's seeking re-election, Gina ran a full-fledged political campaign in pursuit of the four votes on city council necessary to win appointment to the downtown district seat left vacant when Gregg Hart ascended to the BOS; after several ballots, Mayor Cathy Murillo cast the decisive vote to pick dark horse newcomer Harmon.
In the end, Gina may have banged a little too heavy on the keys in lobbying for the job, although she clearly was blindsided – perhaps “betrayed” is le mot juste – by several folks she mistook as friends. As they say in Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog.
The Pea Soup Andersen sweepstakes. Fischer’s decision comes just days before the Democratic county committee meets in Buellton to determine its city council endorsements at Pea Soup Andersen's restaurant, next Thursday, June 6. Plenty of free parking.
Official filing doesn't open until July 15, and closes August 9, which is a lifetime in politics, so nobody knows nothin' about what happens between now and then.
Nonetheless, the Dems like to endorse early to give their partisan favorites plenty of time to raise money and get organized, the better to stomp anyone challenging their relentless bid for hegemony over non-partisan offices.
As a political signifier and source of organizational resources in micro-local, low-information district races, the impact of the Dem seal of approval can be crucial - hello Oscar Gutierrez! - but not always -- shout out Jim Scafide!
Party chair Gail Teton-Landis, to her credit, in this off-year cycle has tried hard to spread the word to wannabes throughout the city about the timing and logistics involved in seeking an endorsement, in contrast to some previous elections, when details of the process were treated as a state secret.
Gail told us that Sunday, June 2, is the absolute, drop-dead deadline for submitting the required candidate questionnaire. Any would-be council type stragglers still pondering need to check out sbdems.org, or contact Joe Pierre, jpierre3@comcast, for more info. Pronto.
The Downtown Dem. With Fischer out of the race in downtown's District 6, Harmon as of today seems to have a rose-strewn path towards victory in November, a win that would afford her the final two years of the four-year term Hart won in 2017. Breathe.
(It also should be noted that a no-sweat election would afford her plenty of free time to plot that 2028 Meagan for President campaign towards which her fierce ambition clearly points. JK.)
Bet on Harmon winning the Dem endorsement, given that her first big vote on council (which confounded fans who'd fallen for her portrayal of a business-minded moderate) favored the awful Project Labor Agreement ordinance, a union sweetheart scheme that is an article of faith contained in the Democratic Party platform. So there's that.
Godfather of the Westside. Right now, there's zero political drama in the Westside's District 3, where Council Member Gutierrez, who triumphed in a low, low, low turnout special election last year, already has won the Democratic endorsement, and currently looks like a mortal lock to win again in November.
Contrary to popular opinion, Oscar on council has not been Mayor Cathy’s lap dog – he's much more like her Mastiff, really. His absolute fealty and dutiful deference to her and the party ensures that in 2019, he’ll be running mostly for the exercise.
Mesa mashup. Council member Randy Rowse is termed out in the Mesa's District 2, and as of now the race to replace him is the most wide open contest on the ballot, pitting longtime planning commissioner Michael Jordan against neighborhood activist Teri Jory, with newcomer and lifeguard Tavis Boise in the mix.
Our spies say the hunt continues for an alternative contender who would match more closely Randy’s small business owner profile and non-partisan sensibilities, and who might run to the right of the two early favorites. We'll believe it when we see it.
The Jason and Alejandra show. In the Eastside's District 1, maverick incumbent Jason Dominguez seeks re-election against an expected challenge from, among others, Alejandra Gutierrez, executive director of the bustling Franklin Service Center.
As a novice candidate, she faces an uphill fight in trying to oust an incumbent. But when Jason, not exactly the most popular figure in partisan circles, told Newsmakers he’s seeking the Dem nod, we called our bookie, right after we stopped laughing long enough to breathe, to put a couple large down on Gutierrez to win the endorsement.
What does Monique want? While not taking his re-election for granted, Dominguez does seem to be tilting towards a run for the state Legislature next year.
Exactly which office he'd seek depends entirely on Monique Limon, who remains in the throes of a long-running Hamlet act about whether she'll run in 2020 for the state Senate seat to be left vacant by termed-out Hannah Beth Jackson, or for re-election in her Assembly district, the better to position herself for a future stint as Assembly Speaker.
Secret message to Monique from battalions of impatient, much-annoyed local pols: Make up your mind already!
Images: Gina Fischer; Gail Teton-Landis; Pea Soup Andersen's pea soup; Meagan Harmon; Oscar Gutierrez; Randy Rowse; Jason Dominguez; Monique Limon; Hamlet ponders running for Hannah Beth's seat.