Port chairman gets nod over fellow Democrat Saldaña
By Christopher CadelagoStaff Writer
December 7, 2011 (updated December 8, 2011)
The San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to endorse Democrat Scott Peters for the 52nd Congressional District. He also secured the support of the Chicano Democratic Association of San Diego.
Peters has spent the early months of the campaign striking a moderate tone in the closely watched primary race against Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray and former Democratic Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña.
Republican John Stahl also is set to challenge in June 2012.
“Scott Peters is a problem solver who knows how to create good, middle-class jobs — a skill that is sorely needed in Washington, D.C.,” Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said in a prepared statement. “He has demonstrated a history of bringing people together and getting things done for San Diegans.”
On Thursday, Peters said he was proud and honored to have the support of the organization that represents 192,000 working families.
“Too many people across America are struggling to make ends meet, and these men and women have said they believe I’m the best candidate to help make a difference,” he said. “It means a lot to me and I’m grateful.”
The race for the redrawn congressional district that takes in northern and coastal stretches of the county has gotten off to a swift start with the formidable field of candidates trading sharp jabs as each entered the race. Saldaña has characterized Peters as out of touch with voters while the Bilbray campaign charged that Saldaña voted time and again for over-regulation, over-taxation and over-litigation.
Meanwhile, Peters and Saldaña have sought to paint Bilbray as an entrenched incumbent whose solutions for solving the spiraling national debt and positions on immigration issues were too extreme for the now more-moderate district.
Social media websites lit up with reaction to the latest endorsement, which was announced Wednesday evening. A handful of Saldaña supporters questioned the labor council’s pick, with some citing Peters’ record on the environment along with a 2002 vote to underfund the city’s pension plan.
In response, Gonzalez said Peters has been a steadfast champion for workers in his roles as port commissioner and city councilman.
“After interviewing the candidates, Scott overwhelmingly won our endorsement. His ability to strategize about some core issues, including what our letter carriers are facing, was impressive and confidence inspiring,” Gonzalez said in her reply.
“I understand some of our friends and allies may end up supporting a different candidate. But, I’d simply ask that you respect that we have a democratic process with a super-majority requirement for endorsements — and Scott won it from both our unions and general delegate membership.”
A candidate must receive two-thirds approval from labor council unions and delegates to secure the endorsement. Peters’ early supporters include former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk, state Assembly members Toni Atkins, Marty Block and Ben Hueso, as well as former Assemblyman Howard Wayne and San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria.