Bottom feeding DeMaio carpet bags the 50th

Former San Diego City Councilman, the carpetbagging Carl DeMaio focused on assailing Democrats when he announced his candidacy./Facebook

Talk show radio host and quixotic conservative crusader Carl DeMaio has announced he’ll seek the 50th District congressional seat currently held by Rep. Duncan Hunter, despite living in the Rancho Bernardo area — outside the district. The law only requires that he be a resident of the state.

Here’s a snip from the press release announcing his candidacy:

  • Today longtime taxpayer advocate and Reform California leader Carl DeMaio today announced he’s running for US Congress because he wants to lead the fight to save California from socialism – and he’s calling on common-sense Californians to join the fight rather than fleeing.
  • “Too many Californians are fleeing our state because of the extreme socialist agenda being imposed on us by Democrat politicians, but I refuse to flee: I choose to stand and fight,” said DeMaio. “In California, voters have mostly only been given two choices: socialists or ineffective cowards,” DeMaio quipped noting his dissatisfaction with the poor performance of the Republican Party in the state in recent cycles particular in 2018.

Four Republicans who do reside in the 50th have already thrown their hats into the ring. Former Rep. Darrell Issa, who resigned from an adjacent House seat subsequently claimed by Democratic Rep. Mike Levin, is also considering running. Issa vs. DeMaio would be a real sh*tshow, given both candidates’ willingness to be nasty.

Hunter’s 2018 Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, who came within shouting distance of winning despite being a Democrat and the target of a smear ad campaign suggesting ties to terrorists, started campaigning right after the last election. A statement from Campa-Najjar’s committee issued after rumors surfaced last week included:

  • “This is an internal battle that party elites will have to figure out amongst themselves.”

DeMaio’s declaration on Monday attracted national media coverage. From Politico:

  • “Fight to take back the state of California from one-party control that has been pursuing a socialist agenda,” DeMaio said while laying out a message to supporters. He warned that “if Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get their way, our entire country will be like California.”
  • But Hunter’s uncertain political future hung over DeMaio’s announcement. The incumbent has been charged with violating federal campaign finance law, and a trial scheduled to start next month could turn toxic after a judge moved to allow testimony that Hunter allegedly spent campaign funds on extramarital affairs.

From Daily Kos:

  • Days before he kicked off his campaign, DeMaio declared that an unreleased poll showed that Hunter, who is scheduled to stand trial next month, could cost the Republicans this conservative seat at a time when they only hold seven of California’s 53 congressional districts, asking his listeners, “How pathetic is that?” 

For those of you unfamiliar with this wannabe carpetbagger, here’s a (very) short background report.

Carl DeMaio started out in San Diego politics as a self-proclaimed reformer, eventually winning a city council seat in 2008.

He took great pride in promoting impressively packaged studies purporting to reveal the dark side of local government.

DeMaio was brash and ambitious, eventually talking about making San Diego the “Wisconsin of the West,” a reference to Koch-sponsored destruction of political institutions in favor of privatization.

From Jim Miller, writing at the OB Rag:

  • In San Diego, DeMaio founded the Performance Institute in 2001 and set about bringing the skills he learned at Reason … with Newt Gingrich … to San Diego, where the conservative old guard seemed to be in peril with labor, environmental activists, and other progressives gaining new political clout. Democrats controlled the city council for the first time in the history of the city and a significant political realignment seemed possible.
  • Still DeMaio quickly made himself a presence, setting up a well-funded operation, issuing reports, working the local media, and positioning himself to influence policy if the opportunity arose. Enter the pension crisis like manna from right wing heaven. DeMaio could now present his agenda as the tax-free solution to San Diego’s nightmare. …
  • If successful, San Diego would be a model for a national assault on the public sector at the municipal level. … In documents such as “The Citizen’s Budget” … DeMaio argues for the breaking up of public sector unions and the radical reorganization and downsizing of city services like libraries, environmental services, the traffic division, and more as well as the outsourcing of many other city services.

But it wasn’t just Democrats who ended up loathing the pushy councilman. From John Lamb at City Beat:

  • But the numbers from his Performance Institute think tank raised eyebrows among his detractors almost immediately, and thus began his rise to become what he gleefully described as “the skunk at the party.”
  • The thing about skunks is that they are unaffected by their own fragrance and have little control over who’s hit by the smell. DeMaio burned bridges with fellow Republicans from the get-go, starting with Mayor Dick Murphy and ending with Mayor Jerry Sanders, whose favorite word when talking about the credit-hogging guy was “bullshit.”
  • DeMaio and Sanders made nice long enough in 2012 for the outgoing mayor to anoint his most rabid critic at City Hall as his choice to replace him as San Diego’s top politico, a race he would eventually lose to Bob Filner. Perhaps one of the most frigid spectacles wrapped in a warm public-relations blanket, the event prompted perhaps the most telling line of that nasty race when Sanders revealed, “I respect Carl, but I like beer.”

DeMaio was among the authors of San Diego’s June 2012 Proposition B, limiting city employee pension benefits. Although approved by voters, the measure has been invalidated by the courts, thanks to proof of direct official involvement in what was supposed to be a citizen’s initiative. Resolution of the financial claims arising from this ruling will end up costing the city much more than the promised savings this measure promised.

In 2014, DeMaio lost to Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. It was a nasty contest, chock full of scandals and faux-scandals, starting with an accusation of plagiarism. Scott Lewis at Voice of San Diego chronicled the campaign, starting his summation with:

  • In 10 years covering San Diego politics, including the one where Bob Filner was mayor, I have never seen a more bizarre political scandal than the one surrounding Carl DeMaio’s congressional campaign over the last few weeks.

In 2015, DeMaio launched Reform California – a 527 political action committee funding opposition to tax increases, and a platform for building the mother of all right wing mailing lists. A 2018 Inewsource report said Reform California had more than 25,000 donors and raised over $2 million during the year.

DeMaio stared at KOGO Radio in 2015 as a co-host of a midday radio show, moving to a solo drive time afternoon six months later. He has used the platform to promote political causes and campaigns.

A 2018 effort to repeal SB1, a measure raising gas taxes to fund infrastructure in California, ended with a thud, losing 55-45%. Although originally envisioned as a tool to drive GOP voter turnout, the state party abandoned the effort amid infighting over tactics.

His most recent effort is vintage DeMaio, a well-publicized report claiming the State of California is being overrun by rats, using statistics largely provided by pest control companies that stand to lose out with passage of the California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2019.The bill, which would ban certain anti-coagulants used by commercial exterminators has already approved by the Assembly and will likely be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, hence the alarmist nature of the ‘report.’***Coming back to this week’s announcement, here’s a snip from Times of San Diego:

  • On what could be his last radio show — because he’d have to pay for air time as an announced candidate — DeMaio took six calls. All favored a run for Congress. One caller was fellow media personality Graham Ledger of San Diego-based One America News. Ledger told DeMaio: “If you don’t run … it would be criminal.”
  • The nation’s founders wanted members of Congress to be “people like you,” Ledger said. “You’re just the man to do it.” Gen X’er DeMaio, 44, frequently cited millennial Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat from New York City he calls one of the “Fascist Four.”
  • He said if he won a Congress race, he’d use his office to “basically do what AOC does — but with an IQ.” Ledger said: “You have to remove some gray matter to make it fair.”

DeMaio’s ability to be nasty and demeaning has always been one of his primary political traits, along with a willingness to proclaim himself as a victim when cornered.

Opposition from the right emerged simultaneously with DeMaio’s announcement of candidacy. From the Union-Tribune::

  • DeMaio also faces opposition from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County, which identified itself as “the largest donor to the local Republican Party in the last cycle ” in a statement it issued Monday.
  • The group said it was launching a website,, to get the word out about what it described as DeMaio’s “long history of opposing law enforcement, including voting twice to eliminate death benefits for families of police officers slain in the line of duty.”

Finally, a blast from my past, writing in a 2014 San Diego Free Press column aptly titled There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio:

  • Voters in the 52nd Congressional District come November will get to make their choice between the former City Councilman and incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. Today I’ll argue that this choice is more than ideological; it’s a question of character. 
  • What differentiates DeMaio in my mind from others who I disagree with (including Congressman Peters from time to time) is the way he does business.


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Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35-year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He’s won numerous awards for his columns from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.


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