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Getting To Know Newly Elected Rep. Scott Peters

by Michael Higham, published

Scott Peters

Election Day produced some very close races. One in particular was decided by 0.4% of the vote which propelled Scott Peters ahead of Brian Bilbray to represent California's 52nd congressional district. We interviewed Congressman-elect Scott Peters to look back on the race, look forward to Congress, and talk about what to enjoy in San Diego.

Mr. Peters let us know that he was, "doing well, just trying to take care of all the errands that are left since the campaign, it took all my time."

The race for the 52nd congressional district was close all Tuesday night and Bilbray led the race until the early hours of the next morning. We asked him what was going through his mind as he watched the precinct reports come in:

Scott Peters: "We've felt really confident about the results. All day we had a great ground-game. Literally, hundreds of people knocking on doors, making phone calls, reminding people to vote, telling them where to vote, when they can vote, so we felt like we were going to have a good night."

"We weren't surprised when the night started that we were behind because a lot of the ballots that had come in early were republicans voting. They tend to be good voters. We sort of expected that through the night we would catch up, but it took a little longer than I would have wanted. I don't think we passed his total until 2:00 in the morning."

"You know, this is the third time I've been through this. When I first ran in the primaries in my council race in 2000, I had to reach that second spot to make it to the runoff and it took a week to decide. And in this year's June primary, same thing happened. We had a little lead and were able to expand the lead and won with 719 votes out of 151,000 total votes. This seems to be standard operation procedure for me. It drives my wife crazy but we've watched this happen before!"

Partisanship is arguably one of the biggest problems in Congress today. We asked what the congressman-elect is anticipating once in Washington and how he'd work to overcome this problem:

Scott Peters: "It's clear to me that just from the phone calls I've been getting since Election Day that it's much more partisan than working in San Diego. I've promised to work across party lines and I think voters can expect that from me, it's my intention. I can see that generally that's the culture but we're going to change that moving forward."

"I definitely look forward to working with Juan Vargas. I've known him for years here in San Diego, but we've never served together in any body. We've served in different capacities. I've also established a lot of relationships in what's called the New Democrat Coalition in Washington. It's where pro-growth Democrats, we call ourselves, expect to enhance and nurture those to move forward. We actually have an orientation next week. I also have a good relationship with Janice Hahn who is chair of the PORTS Caucus, and it'll be very helpful."

Jobs and the economy make news cycles everyday and is the most pressing issue for the country. However, congressional leaders across the country might not understand San Diego as well. How is the congressman-elect going to highlight the 52nd district's economic well-being in Congress:

Scott Peters: "Talking to former President Bill Clinton, he's the best proponent of representing your constituents and educating other people about them. I believe I'm good at that and I'm a very good communicator. One of the things that I do is make sure people understand where I'm coming from and where everyone else is coming from. This builds a better sense of how we can work together. That will be part of my approach."

Moving onto Congress means Scott Peters will be among leaders who have considerable influence on national defense matters. He might be one of those leaders considering the military presence in San Diego. Peters explained his experience working with the Navy:

Scott Peters: "The land on the bay administered by the Port is owned by the Navy. We've been partners on San Diego Bay and we have a good working relationship with those folks here. We understand the importance of the military here and we need to work to help people understand the role San Diego plays in our national defense. San Diego is a community that embraces the military and its presence here supports our economy. We'll continue to make the Navy understands us and continue to support them as much as we can here."

Candidates have been bombarded with political questions for several months. With newly elected positions, winners will continue to answer political questions. To take off some of the election heat off of Scott Peters, we asked about one place he would take the family to eat in San Diego:

Scott Peters: "Interesting! I'd take them to Barbarella in La Jolla. I really like neighborhood-y places. They know you when you come in and they don't treat me like I'm extra-important."

Time in San Diego will be harder to come by for Scott Peters as he moves onto Congress. We asked him what his weekend off in San Diego would look like this:

Scott Peters: "I would spend time with my wife and kids at home. We like to go up to the mountains and enjoy our beaches. Now is actually a great time to go to the beach. We can walk up there since the tourists are gone!"

The nation's capital can experience harsh weather during the year, a stark contrast to San Diego. Scott Peters says he's ready for Washington's political climate, but we also asked if he was ready for its physical climate:

Scott Peters: "Well, I moved here from Minnesota and we've set a good standard for winter! I've lived on the east coast for some time. But I'm not going to tell them in Washington how nice it is in San Diego, they won't be able to cope with DC."

The end on a light-hearted note takes a break from the onslaught of politics in recent weeks. However, we will be following how San Diego's congressman-elect Scott Peters takes action on the national level.

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