The worst-kept secret in San Diego politics hardened to fact this week with the announcement that 75th District Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher is running for San Diego mayor.
Normally, this isn’t fodder for a North County military column, except for certain facts of local interest and the possibility the future might be flashing before our eyes.
1. Fletch is a former Marine reserve officer with ties to Camp Pendleton. So, he’s a natural to capture the patriotic vote in this historically military county that’s growing more so by the year.
2. The 75th District contains portions of North County, including Poway and parts of Escondido.
3. Most important, he is the first veteran of the Global War on Terrorism (haven’t heard that term much lately) I am aware of to credibly run for mayor of a major California city. He was the first Iraq veteran elected to the California Assembly.
Mind you, he is all of 34 years old.
Fletcher is an Ironman-caliber triathlete, which means his strengths include running, swimming and biking.
But, if I can mix sports metaphors for a moment, he is a five-tool political player.
Young, but with elected office and staff experience; strong military provenance in a part of the state where that matters, at a time when that matters; good name recognition (thanks, in part, to writing Chelsea’s Law); no discernable negatives; a background so clean you could eat off it.
Plus he’s a moderate Republican, and San Diego is an elephant-friendly kind of town.
For years, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans groups have cultivated their own to capture state and national offices to inject military experience into halls of power.
There have been successes, including right here in San Diego County.
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, also 34 and also a Republican and a former reserve Marine officer who spent time on active duty, was elected in 2008 and again in 2010 to the same congressional office his father held.
In yet another similarity with Fletcher —- who were both born in December 1976 —- Hunter is the first Iraq and Afghanistan veteran elected to the House of Representatives.
From day one, Fletcher has crafted a political path paralleling a military career with stints in posts preparing him for the next political rank, if you will.
Considering his short time in office, his accomplishments are impressive.
He authored the aforementioned Chelsea’s Law —- the reform that changed the way California deals with violent sexual predators targeting children.
He’s produced about two dozen pieces of legislation signed into law, with topics related to veterans, job creation, water infrastructure, pension reform, health care and public safety.
Before his election to the California Assembly, Fletcher served on the San Diego County Veterans Advisory Council and enjoys a sterling reputation among veterans groups in San Diego County and Southern California.
A successful mayoral run could give him eight years to plan his next political step and the stage from which to run for governor or senator.
By that time Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein would each have about 30 years in office, and the inevitable voter backlash against the ruling party in Sacramento could be ready to sweep in a new party.
It will be interesting to see whether Fletcher can stand out in a packed mayoral field the way he does on paper —- and if he fails, where he’ll fall. Everyone loses at least one race. Timing is everything in losing, and a slip in San Diego would not finish him.
But should he succeed, Fletcher would instantly enter the national scene, where he might be a fixture for decades and where the sky is the limit.
Republican National Chairman Fletcher? Gov. Fletcher? Sen. Fletcher? President Fletcher?
Just don’t pull a Rep. Anthony Weiner or a John Edwards.