Lorena Gonzalez and Nathan Fletcher at the Democratic National Convention
After months of online skirmishing over who will emerge from the June primary for the Fourth District county supervisor's seat currently held by termed-out Republican Ron Roberts, a big money player is placing its bets, with plenty more cash reportedly on the way.
A hefty $20,000 contribution to the county Democratic Party arrived March 19, courtesy of the Service Employees International Union Local 221 PAC, which has endorsed Nathan Fletcher, husband of the labor union's longtime favorite, DemocraticAssemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher.
Nathan Fletcher, a twice-failed candidate for San Diego mayor who switched from the GOP to run as a self-styled independent in the middle of his first mayoral race in 2012 and then turned Democrat in May 2013, months before his second bid, obtained the local Democratic Party's primary endorsement for supervisor last September.
The political couple, wed New Year's weekend, 2017, made an appearance on national television as they emoted for each other and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at 2016's Democratic convention. Nathan has also enjoyed the Twitter favor of CNN anchor Jake Tapper regarding the former's anti-Trump stances.
But more than bragging rights are at stake in the rough-and-tumble supervisorial contest. The assemblywoman got a total of $106,559 in salary and benefits in 2016, per Transparent California, and county supervisors voted to boost their pay last year by 12 percent to $172,450, plus benefits.
After leaving the assembly, Nathan Fletcher was employed by Qualcomm — whose founding Jacobs family members were his longtime political patrons, — but no longer works there. A part-time “professor of practice” at UCSD, where officials once considered asking Irwin Jacobs to come up with his salary, Fletcher’s profession is billed as that of "Educator/Veterans Advocate” on this coming June’s ballot.
SEIU Local 221, which endorsed Fletcher last July, seeking to boost its influence over the board, is a long-time financial backer of his wife's political aspirations, most recently with $8800 for her 2018 re-election campaign.
The union also abruptly withdrew its backing of the San Diego Working Families Council after it moved to endorse Fletcher's rival and fellow Democrat Lori Saldaña in the race.
The wisdom of SEIU's all-out-for-Fletcher strategy will be tested in June, when he faces off against Saldaña, attorney Omar Passons, retired deputy chief in the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department Ken Malbrough, real estate advisor Marcia Nordstrom, and the big elephant in the majority Democratic district, Republican ex-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.