Scott Peters and Brian Bilbray Face Off: Part Two

Continued from Part One….

California state capitolScott Peters can stand on his record as a city council member.  As a council member he played a part in the completion of Petco Park, in keeping Solar Turbines jobs in the San Diego area, and has been influential in clean-up efforts and improvement of San Diego’s beaches and water supply.

The one incident that plagues Peters’ political career was his involvement in the San Diego pension scandal from 2002.  Peters voted to underfund the city’s pension while increasing the pension’s benefits, which subsequently increased the benefits of the members on the pension board.  An investigation by the SEC ruled that the city council violated securities fraud statutes by not disclosing the pension’s liabilities while issuing over $2 billion in bonds to fund to city projects.

To his credit, Peters admits to the mistakes he made during the pension scandal and has been involved in many of the San Diego governmental reforms that were put in place as a result of the scandal.  The Bilbray campaign is focusing heavy on pointing out the pension scandal as an example of Peters’ competence as an elected official.  Even if Peters has taken steps to atone for his past missteps, his involvement in the scandal does raise questions about whether he would be susceptible to similar mistakes at the national congressional level.

In a telephone conversation with Mary Anne Pintar, the campaign communications director for Peters, Pintar says that independent voters shouldn’t worry about Peters “regrettable mistakes” from that period and should focus on the role that Peters played in reforming those mistakes.   Pintar also points to a statement made by Stanley Keller, an outside monitor for the SEC, claiming that “San Diego’s financial reforms were a model for other governments to follow.”

Peters is also campaigning on the idea that he’s an advocate of bipartisanship and willing to reach across the aisle to find solutions and get things accomplished.  Peters supports bipartisan tax reform such as the Simpson-Boles Plan.  Mary Anne Pintar points to bipartisan endorsements that Peters has received as an example Peters’ ability to gain support from both democrats and republicans.  One such endorsement Pintar was quick to point out was former republican mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher.  Pintar claims that “Fletcher is an independent voice familiar with both Bilbray and Peters,” and that his endorsement is based on his “dedication to endorsing the best possible candidate for the job.”

But the Fletcher endorsement is an endorsement that independent voters should view with certain amount of skepticism.  Fletcher was running as a republican in the primary for San Diego’s mayor.  When he failed to get the nomination from the Republican Party, he kept his campaign for mayor alive by re-branding himself as independent.  His endorsement can be viewed as a revenge strike against the Republican Party or as a tactical political gambit to show voters that he truly has embraced an independent stance by endorsing a non-Republican for congress.

Whether or not Fletcher would have endorsed Peters had he won the republican nomination is an unknown.  Fletcher could not be reached for comment, but it’s unlikely that he would admit that his endorsement is based on anything but his calculated evaluation of both candidates.   Taken on its face, the endorsement does show support from outside the Democratic Party.  Peters has also received other high profile endorsements from the other side, most recently from republican business leader and former Chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Mel Katz.

Despite Peters’ desire for bipartisanship, Pintar says that Peters is unwilling to waiver on women’s right to choose and LGBT marriage equality.

For the independent voter the Bilbray/Peters race comes down to which candidate the individual feels will best represent their interests in Congress.  Most importantly the independent voter should focus on the candidate they believe is most likely to compromise.  The 112th Congress from 2011 to 2012 managed only to pass 61 bills out of 3,914 into law.  This type of political gridlock doesn’t benefit anybody.  So as independent voters evaluate each candidate and make their way to the ballot box they should channel the spirit of Mike Jacobs and have one question on their mind as they cast votes: “What’s in it for me?”