Supervisorial Candidate Whitburn Makes Impassioned Plea to Queer Democrats to “Get Out the Vote,” Volunteer in Last Few Days
by MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Copyright © 2010 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
“This is Get Out the Vote weekend,” said Zenger’s-endorsed San Diego County Board of Supervisors candidate Stephen Whitburn in the last few minutes of the October 28 San Diego Democratic Club meeting in an intense, impassioned manner belying his usual reputation for cool, “All the work leads up to this weekend.” Speaking to the members of the club of which he used to be president until he ran for the San Diego City Council in 2008, Whitburn thanked them for their previous efforts on his behalf — and pleaded with them to keep up their volunteer work during the election.
While admitting that he has no current polling data on his race, Whitburn said he expects it to be “close” — and, what’s more, he thinks the campaign of his entrenched opponent, Republican 16-year incumbent Ron Roberts, also expects it to be close. Otherwise both Roberts’ own campaign and independent committees wouldn’t be putting so much money and energy sending out a blizzard of last-minute direct-mail hit-pieces attacking Whitburn — “which indicates the opposition has something to worry about,” Whitburn told the club.
Whitburn said two of the hit pieces attacking him came from the Lincoln Club of San Diego, and two others came from a nationwide group called the New Majority Political Action Committee (PAC), the largest Republican PAC. Whitburn is sure more vicious direct-mail attacks are coming in the last few days before the election. “They’re going to have me doing horrible things from your mailboxes, including reaching into their pockets,” he grimly joked. He also alluded to the run of deceptive “slate mailers” which purport to be from Democratic organizations, list the Democratic candidates for state offices — and then endorse Roberts.
But he also said there’s a silver lining in the dark cloud of mailers against him. “They’re going very heavy on mail because they aren’t doing much on the ground or on the phones,” Whitburn said. “We have an incredibly large field campaign, and it’s a credit to all of you who have participated. We have talked to thousands of voters in person and by phone. We’ve gotten a big number of yes ID’s — people who’ve said they’ll vote for us. If we can get those people to turn out, we can win this race.”
One theme Whitburn has stressed in his campaign is that electing him will put a Democrat on the County Board of Supervisors for the first time in 16 years. Thanks to California’s system of nonpartisan local elections, in which candidates aren’t listed on the ballot by party identification, people running for office have to educate potential voters about their party affiliation. Thanks to Whitburn’s unsuccessful run for the City Council in 2008, he explained, a lot of people in the district — or at least those parts of it which overlap with the City Council district he ran in — already know he’s a Democrat. The problem, Whitburn added, is “a lot of people think Ron Roberts is a Democrat as well.”
What’s more, Whitburn says, he has to introduce himself to people in the parts of the Fourth Supervisorial District which don’t overlap the Third City Council District. “The [Supervisorial] District goes all the way up to University City,” he explained, “and there are a lot of people in it who don’t have a clear idea who I am.” He’s also running into a lot of people who say they already voted — a recurring issue for candidates now that increasing numbers of voters bypass the polls on election day and vote by mail earlier — and they can’t always remember who, if anyone, they voted for in his race. But Whitburn says he’s been heartened by the many early voters who’ve told him they don’t like Roberts and certainly didn’t vote for him.
Another former club president, Craig Roberts, told Whitburn and the club audience that he’d done door-to-door walking as part of the Democrats’ GO Team — which only goes to Democrats and voters who don’t state a party affiliation — “and there’s a lot of awareness that you’re a Democrat. More people have told me they are going to vote for you than are going to vote for Jerry Brown.” Veteran club activist John Lockhart added that the district has a 2-to-1 Democratic registration edge and should be represented by a Democrat.
“We’ve got to get this race up on the radar screens,” said Whitburn. “We need to get these people to the polls. We identify these people all year to get them out in the next five days. We have to make sure they turn in their absentee [vote-by-mail] ballots or go to the polls. The other side doesn’t have a field campaign. It all depends on having people in the offices and in the field.”
The last days of the Whitburn campaign will be run out of the Democratic Unity Office, 7847 Convoy Court, Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92111. “There is something for everybody to do,” Whitburn said. “No matter what you like to do, we need you: labeling door hangers, hanging them on doors, knocking and talking, phoning. Please turn out in the next few days and make it happen.” To contact the Democratic Unity Office, please phone (858) 279-2010. For more information on Stephen Whitburn, please visit his Web site at http://stephenwhitburn.com