Mindy Tucker and Nathan Fletcher
It was San Diego’s fairy-tale political union of a war-torn decade.
"President George Bush gave his blessing to the recent engagement of Nathan Fletcher, who heads Rep. Duke Cunningham's San Diego district office, to Mindy Tucker, Republican National Committee communications director," reported Diane Bell in her March 1, 2003, Union-Tribune column.
"Bush phoned Tucker, who served as his press secretary when he was governor of Texas, to personally congratulate the couple this week," noted Bell.
"She'll be relocating from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, but not until after Fletcher, a U.S. Marine reservist, finds out if — and when — he is headed to the Middle East."
On October 14, 2004, Bell checked in on the couple's status: "Nathan Fletcher, Duke Cunningham's district chief of staff and a Marine reservist, has returned safely from Iraq after a seven-month tour of duty, much to the relief of his bride, Mindy Tucker Fletcher."
Added Bell, "She came to California from the Republican National Committee to marry Nathan last year — only weeks before he got his military orders. But as Nathan returned home, his wife was packing for Florida to campaign for George Bush this month. Nathan plans to return to his job at Cunningham's office late this year or early next year."
Then a Republican like his wife, Fletcher won a seat in the state Assembly and a bright future seemed in store when he decided to run for mayor of San Diego in 2012.
Fletcher family photo
He, Mindy, and their two young adopted children put in repeated appearances on television news shows and at campaign events, reinforcing the couple's all-American image.
But Fletcher's political enemies, including U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester, who backed Republican city councilman Carl DeMaio, turned up the heat.
Fletcher lost the race, placing third, behind DeMaio and Democrat Bob Filner, the ultimate victor.
"I absolutely remember being told I needed to hand over my story to [U-T reporter Jeff] McDonald b/c I had not yet 'found the dirt' on Fletcher," wrote former U-T reporter Wendy Fry in a November 17, 2012, tweet.
The same day, Fletcher tweeted, "Hard 2 make case news isn't extension of ownership positions."
The U-T’s "Watchdog" Twitter account responded, "Nathan, think what you will of U-T editorial positions, but our Campaign Watch effort looked at everyone, not just you."
In the fall of 2013, Fletcher, having re-registered as a Democrat, ran for mayor again, this time against Republican city councilman Kevin Faulconer and Democratic councilman David Alvarez.
Manchester and his allies in the GOP Lincoln Club redoubled their anti-Fletcher effort, attacking his role as an executive at Qualcomm, the cell-phone chip giant founded by Obama Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.
The volley of Republican hit pieces drew the wrath of his son Paul Jacobs, who demanded that the Lincoln Club call a halt to its attacks.
"The allegations about Nathan’s job are completely untrue, from the erroneous salary figure to the outrageous allegation that his is a 'no-show' job," Jacobs wrote the Republicans.
"Is the Lincoln Club so desperate and out of constructive ideas that they are resorting to attacks on private employers, forsaking their supposed principles and lying to serve a political agenda?"
The Jacobs letter concluded: "I demand a full apology and a retraction of this slanderous attack on our company and its more than 13,000 local employees."
Fletcher again placed third, but Jacobs and other Fletcher-friendly Democrats continue to see him as viable challenger to Faulconer next year, especially if Manchester transfers U-T ownership to a nonprofit corporation being organized by Point Loma real estate mogul and Fletcher backer Malin Burnham.
Whether Fletcher's divorce petition, filed January 27, could alter any political plans he may have remains to be seen. Mindy Fletcher acknowledged service on February 25.
The couple was married September 19, 2003, and separated December 1 of last year. According to the documents, "the nature and extent of the community assets and debts is subject to discovery."
Joint custody of the children is requested, with Mindy having primary custody, and Nathan having alternate weekend custody, along with "alternating visitations on Monday and Tuesday (Week 1) and Wednesday and Thursday (Week 2). Visitations are from 6 PM until drop off at school.”