Democrat Joins Team DeMaio

Former Democratic political consultant to provide strategic advice

By Lauren Steussy
|  Monday, Oct 1, 2012  |  Updated 1:27 PM PDT
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Democrat Joins Team DeMaio

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Though San Diego’s mayoral race came down to red and blue for the June primary, November’s general election may see a blurring of partisanship.

Mayoral candidate and Republican Carl DeMaio announced Monday that a longtime Democratic consultant will be advising him through the remainder of his campaign.

Former chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, Art Castañares, will advise the city councilman. In his announcement Monday, DeMaio praised Castañares’ Democratic background, pointing to his work on the campaigns of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Gray Davis.

Castañares said he accepted the offer because he believes DeMaio, at 37, represents a new generation of leaders who have accepted that the city's economic problems aren't going to fix themselves.

"I've been in politics for 23 years and this is a first time that a viable candidate for mayor has come forward who is younger than I am," he said.

He said his experience as a consultant in the South Bay will also help DeMaio attract Latino voters and those living south of Interstate 8 -- San Diego's political divide.

Perhaps most obviously, in a non-partisan race that has become increasingly partisan, Castañares intends on attracting San Diego's Democrats.

As of May, 40.2 percent of voters in the city registered as Democrats and about 28.2 percent Republican. About 26.7 percent had no party affiliation, according to the county Registrar of Voters.

“[DeMaio] has always had a strong base of Republican supporters,” political consultant John Dadian said of DeMaio, whose support has remained consistent in polls among conservatives.

But DeMaio narrowly beat his opponent, U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, Dadian pointed out. Any moderate support from Democrats he can gain now would give him a stronger lead.

Castañares has not worked exclusively for Democrats, DeMaio’s opponents point out. In 2006 he also worked on the campaign of former Chula Vista mayor and Republican Cheryl Cox.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” said Jess Durfee, current chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. “Based on the fact that [Castañares has] been working for Republicans, my guess is he’s moved to the right.”

However Castañares said the vast majority of the campaigns he's worked on have been Democratic. He worked for Cox because she was a long-time family friend who he grew up with and wanted to see succeed.

DeMaio’s Democratic opponent Filner has also shifted his staff in the weeks leading up to the general election.

Last month, Filner took on former television reporter Lena’ Lewis as his communications director – a move seen by many as a way to wake up his sleepy campaign leading into the June primary.

Filner also invited former mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher to his administration as a mayoral aide. Fletcher, who ran as an independent in the primary election, is out of town but said he would consider the job offer.

 

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