Some San Diegans came out on top in this year’s electoral derby. Some didn’t. Among the biggest winners was La Jolla’s Christine Forester, the widow of noted architect and artist Russell Forester. On August 22 she was listed by U.S. News and World Report as the second-largest “bundler” of contributions to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, having collected more than $500,000 from a variety of friends and associates.
As reported by the New York Times the same month, a full one-third of Obama’s record-breaking fund-raising total of $112 million to that date had come from contributors giving $1000 or more, the bulk of it raised by a phalanx of well-connected individuals whose efforts were the key to his decision to forsake public financing and its federally imposed spending ceiling. The Times reported that two-thirds of the bundling corps had occupations in law, securities and investments, real estate, and entertainment fields. The paper said the bundlers were “meticulously organized,” with Obama headquarters sending them quarterly “reminders” of whether they were meeting their fund-raising goals.
An ex-architect herself, the Geneva, Switzerland-born Forester now runs Christine Forester Catalyst, a marketing consulting operation known for connecting would-be entrepreneurs with hedge-fund money. In an interview with the San Fernando Valley Business Journal last summer, Forester listed San Diego multimillionaire Sol Price as her mentor, calling him “a curmudgeon with a vision, a remarkable clarity of mind, and a big heart.”
In June of last year, almost a full year before it became obvious that Obama would beat front-runner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, Forester hosted a fund-raiser featuring Michelle Obama at the Salvation Army’s Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, minimum price of admission: $1000. Another early Obama backer was San Diego Magazine editor Tom Blair, who gave $250 in March 2007. High-concept architect Rob Quigley gave $500. … Next to politically hapless Democratic city attorney Mike Aguirre — who, despite the Obama sweep, surrendered his seat to Republican Jan Goldsmith, a second-string judge and ex-Poway mayor — the biggest loser this political season was San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders. Though Sanders wasn’t on the ballot and his top nemesis Aguirre was ousted by a tidal wave of cash from GOP fat cats, the mayor lost big when Proposition 8, the anti-gay-marriage measure, eked out a sizable victory.
Republican Sanders originally opposed gay marriage but flip-flopped at a teary-eyed press conference in September of last year, talking for the first time in public about his lesbian daughter. Internal emails later showed that mayoral press aide Fred Sainz, himself gay, put the kibosh on any further declarations by the mayor about his conversion, but local Christian evangelicals got the message loud and clear. Backed by Skyline Wesleyan Church pastor Jim Garlow, the previously floundering effort by anti-gay-marriage forces to gather enough signatures to put Prop 8 on the ballot was galvanized by the Sanders move. Last week’s Prop 8 win leaves Sanders, who insiders say pines for higher office, out of the money with a key GOP constituency and not particularly beloved by local gays, who saw his opposition to the measure as lukewarm at best.