The good news: There was a moment in Wednesday night’s KUSI roundtable when two of the mayoral candidates took a detour from the talking points we’ve heard on repeat at dozens of other debates. The bad news: Things got pretty ugly.
During the televised “discussion” between the top four candidates, Nathan Fletcher seemed to prod Kevin Faulconer into a temporary meltdown.
KUSI moderator Ross Becker asked Faulconer about advocating for neighborhoods (he was vague about it when pressed at our #noBSmayor debate).
Faulconer said the next mayor would need to stand up for neighborhoods and make independent decisions when it comes to the city’s budget.
Fletcher jumped in, citing our reporting on the La Jolla confab where Republicans settled on Faulconer as their candidate of choice.
In the clip below, things get heated around 1:55, and escalate until Becker redirects at 4:30.
Nathan Fletcher: I’ve got a question on this.
Ross Becker: Yes, Nathan, go ahead.
NF: Kevin, it was widely reported that the Republican Party, the Lincoln Club, Doug Manchester and a handful of folks got together in a room to pick their candidate, and that you committed that you would not run unless they anointed you and did that. Did you make that commitment? Did you agree to not run unless they picked you or not? I mean, that’s an easy yes or no. That’s an easy yes or no.
Kevin Faulconer: I’ve been a Republican and Mr. Fletcher’s been a Republican, an independent and now a labor union Democrat, so I’m proud of the support that I’ve had and continue to have that. And I think that’s what we, we want a mayor …
NF: But it’s the same question, Kevin, it’s a yes or no. Did you make a commitment to say you wouldn’t run unless they picked you? ‘Cause that was widely reported, that the group, the party, the Lincoln Club, Manchester who owns the Union-Tribune and the downtown interests, got in a room to pick a candidate, and it was reported that you said you would not run unless they anointed you and picked you. Did you make that commitment, yes or no?
KF: Nathan, you have to be independent …
NF: So demonstrate that and answer the question.
KF: Are you going to allow me to finish, Nathan?
NF: Go ahead.
KF: You want me to finish?
KF: Thank you. As mayor, I’m going to have that independence. And that’s something that I don’t think you know too much about, as you’ve had all this support from all these public employee groups who are coming to you, now they’re going to want things for you to do. That’s the difference between you and me, my friend …
NF: (over Faulconer) But you still aren’t answering the question, Kevin. It’s a simple question. Did you make that commitment, yes or no?
KF: (over Fletcher) Nathan, Nathan, you have changed your vote on so many occasions, so how when you’re talking to people today, you’re going to talk about independence, how can people believe what you’re saying?
NF: (over Faulconer) Exactly this …
KF: (over Fletcher) You’ve been a Republican, you’ve been an independent, and now you’re a labor union Democrat, all in the span of one year.
NF: Sure, I’ll answer this, but I want to point out for the record that you refused to answer if you made that commitment, if you said you wouldn’t run unless they picked you. And I think that’s all voters need to know.
KF: Everybody makes their choice to run, Nathan, and I made my choice to run just like you made your choice to run. What I don’t think you understand …
NF: Did you commit that you wouldn’t run unless they picked you?
KF: … Nathan, is that voters don’t want somebody like you who they can’t trust. Because they have no idea where you are on the issues.
RB: (to Fletcher) Why is that important, Nathan?
KF: You’ve been on every side of every issue, Nathan.
NF: Here’s why I think it’s important. Because I’ve always been somebody who’s been willing to stand up for what I believe is right. I’ve always been an independent voice. I’ve never been someone that toed the party line. Now, the Republican Party changed. We’ve seen an influence of the tea party. We’ve seen an influence uh, we’ve seen the Republican Party drift further and further to the right …
KF: Have you spoken to the tea party?
NF: I speak to all kinds of groups.
KF: So the answer’s yes.
NF: I would still go today. But you saw the Republican Party — hang on, let me answer the question (all talking). We’ve seen the party change. And as we go through life, we change. We get new information. I’m not going to stay in a wrong position that I believe is wrong, right? You want a mayor who has an open mind, who’s willing to look at facts and who’s willing to make decisions. But I’ve always been someone who’s had that ability to bring folks together, and been willing to stand up …