Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher has launched a new attack on the "Grand Old Party" he left in March, after the Republican Party of San Diego County wouldn't endorse him in San Diego's mayoral primary.
His latest dustup with the GOP involves a battle over business taxes in the Legislature that found him on the prevailing side with 53 Democrats – and the Assembly’s Republican caucus chairman.
On Tuesday, Fletcher (I-75th District) issued a news release praising that Republican, Brian Nestande (R-64th District) of Palm Desert, the lone GOP Assembly member who gave Fletcher and the Democrats the key vote needed for a two-thirds majority to pass a measure that would close what they call a billion-dollar annual “tax loophole” for out-of-state businesses.
In what Capitol observers say was a routine act of protocol, Nestande resigned his GOP caucus post, prompting Fletcher to accuse Republicans of “retaliating and removing him,” reflecting "a party with no ideas, no leadership and no vision" that's being deserted by "hundreds of thousands of Californians."
Fletcher’s reaction came as no surprise to Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party.
"Because he's the only independent in the Assembly,” Durfee said in an interview Wednesday, “he has this unique role of being able to call out the parties -- which party that may be -- for playing partisan politics. I assume that's what the case was here."
Local GOP leaders and strategists dismissed Fletcher’s remarks as "dramatizing the situation”, and blowing Nestande's resignation out of proportion.
"I do think that Assemblyman Fletcher's making harsh comments shows that he's still very bitter about having to leave the Republican Party,” said John Dadian, a Republican political consultant. “Clearly, the wounds of the local mayor race have not healed when it comes to partisan politics."
Responding in a telephone interview Wednesday, Fletcher rejected Dadian’s assertions with a laugh: "Well, that's silly … what we see playing out here is what we’ve seen play out across America – which is partisan politics trumping what’s in the best interest of the people we represent.
"It is disappointing,” Fletcher continued, “because there are a lot of California Republicans who want to be part of solutions -- just not a lot of them reside in the leadership positions of the party."
The bill that Fletcher, Nestande and the Democrats passed – AB 1500 -- now goes to the state Senate.
Its tax provisions applying to out-of-state corporations are in effect in 11 other states, including Texas and New York, and, contained in the language of Proposition 39 on the November ballot.