David King is this week’s worst person in San Diego

We’ve largely steered clear of local Republicans’ attempts to invent controversy over supposed partisanship in the redistricting process, but ongoing harassment, personal attacks and a downright offensive hit piece by San Diego News Room editor David King over the weekend have pushed things too far.

Let’s begin with where all of this should have ended: There is simply no substantive criticism of any redistricting staff member or commissioner. None. Rather, the San Diego Republican Party has turned to the only page in their playbook when they don’t get what they want: invective, personal attack and hypocritically accusing others of partisanship. These tactics are both tired and insulting.

This weekend, the discourse reached a new low with a spiteful and, at times, nonsensical commentary by King, who might have wanted to consult the “former ‘general counsel of the Republican Party of San Diego’” line on his resume before accusing other people of being partisan and biased. King tries to deride San Diego’s political system by drawing parallels to mentally challenged children, and then goes on to make sexist insults about commission members. His underlying argument is that the presence of young, attractive women in politics is inherently immoral—a ridiculous, condescending smear in the place of actual critique. King throws out words like “scandalous” and “shameless” to somehow prove that there is an age requirement to be “highly ethical and objective, with the ability to navigate in a political environment without being political, and serve in an unbiased and impartial way.”

Based on this screed, more than 40 years haven’t led David King to meet any of those standards, so it’s particularly odd that he would try to throw so many stones from his glass house. But despite betraying his own age-based bias by writing the column in the first place, he goes on to cite involvement in a non-partisan civic organization as a disqualifying resume point for fulfilling the above description. Since King is as partisan as they come, it’s hard to imagine why he believes his particular attacks would be relevant, but he wrote the piece anyway (and somehow managed to avoid any sort of substantive argument).

King makes personal attacks against commission Chief of Staff Midori Wong, but never says a word about her job performance, positive or negative. None whatsoever. Nor of the work of the redistricting commission. One has to assume that if there was anything at all in the commission’s work that could be criticized, King would have used it—at the very least in order to appear like he’s got a real argument to make and isn’t abhorrently sexist.

King’s argument is that Wong is unqualified just because he doesn’t like her age or the non-partisan things she did before taking a non-partisan job. It’s a pathetic attempt to nakedly intimidate the redistricting process and carry water for the San Diego GOP. The shameless hypocrisy would be even more insulting if it wasn’t established by now as the only way the SDGOP knows how to participate in politics.

If King has concerns about the standard of political process or debate in San Diego, he can start by looking squarely in the mirror to find the absolute worst sort of politics—the sort that directly undermines any hope of engaging with the issues that face our city openly, honestly, and substantively. It’s shameless, it’s offensive and it has no place in a discussion of how to make San Diego better.

Redistricting is an extremely important process for San Diego, and if King, his party cronies, or anyone else is concerned about that process being corrupted by partisanship, then they can start to improve things this minute: by leaving out the partisan attacks, the sexism, the ageism, the patronizing insults, and start to discuss how best to shape San Diego’s districts in a way that meets the interests of the community. King’s response, like the full run thus far of the GOP’s manufactured “scandal,” has yet to even pay lip service to that part of the debate (the part that actually carries any relevance to San Diego), and we’re all the less for it. If he or the Republican Party has any substance to offer, now would be a great time to cut the crap and get to work.

In the meantime, we’re stuck with them offering nothing to the process but naked partisanship, sexism, ham-handed accusations of immorality, and a sense of righteousness that gets more absurd with every word. If this is what King or the SDGOP think qualifies as serious, substantive political debate, we’re left to wonder if they’re remotely serious about anything.

by Lucas O’Connor
I serve as a board member for San Diego’s New Leaders Council chapter and fully expect that this will be the focus of any rebuttal, rather than the substance of the redistricting process.

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9 Responses to David King is this week’s worst person in San Diego

  1. doug porter says:

    SD’s GOPer’s are taking a page from the Donald Trump/Michelle Bachman book of “teh” crazy. I suggest that we encourage their paranoia as much as possible.

  2. David King says:

    The sections of my column regarding Ms. Wong address her “appointment,” not her job performance. So, her record up the appointment is what matters –and the point is not simply her age but what her age indicates about her work experience: she is fresh out of college. I do not believe her sex has anything to do with her lack of qualifications (due to insufficient work experience) and her disqualification through close affiliation with a partisan group, and work in partisan campaigns and only Democratic offices.

    I agree that my service to the local GOP would disqualify me from this position as chief of staff of redistricting, but not every form of public service (as the CA Senate has unanimously shown), nor from offering an editorial on this subject. The first job I had was through an appointment by a Democrat and my cousin was a Democrat Congressman. I don’t believe Ms. Wong has worked for any Republicans.

    I believe T.J. Zane of the Lincoln Club would be disqualified from this position (and other Lincoln Club executive board members) because, although it is nominally non-partisan, we all know what the club is about (“I know it when I see it”). Similarly, I can not accept Mr. O’Connor’s characterization of NLC as non-partisan. I strongly disagree. How many Republicans are active in the NLC?

    I have held positions beyond my age in the private sector, but not one of them was one of public trust which will have lasting impact on elected offices. I helped dotcoms “go public” with 23 year old CEO’s, but that was private enterprise (where a fool and his money shall part). I believe that Ms. Wong will be able to do her daily work largely free of public scrutiny (unlike board members who only act publicly and periodically). I do believe she has more input than the board. I believe I set this out in my column, and did not leave one wondering why I believe her appointment was wrong. I offered more supporting reasons than any U-T editorial.

    The column I wrote followed my usual style of incorporating humor about local government and politics which has enhanced our audience. I have used humor describing the work of Mayor Sanders and Carl DeMaio, and it’s part of my infinite charm. Understanding that a few words have been taken by this blog to be sexist, I have modified the column accordingly.

    As a start-up, SDNR has been built largely through the efforts of two women (our editors), both straight out of college, and neither were asked about their politics or gave a hint of political bias on their resumes (since they edit our reporting). One has turned out to be quite liberal and the other was conservative (now at UCLA Law) but both do good work. Like Ms. Wong they would both be unqualified for the chief of staff position due to their lack of sufficient work experience. However, neither of our editors would share Ms. Wong’s disqualifying high association with a partisan group.

    Respectfully submitted,
    David King

    • Sara_H says:

      Mr. King,

      I did not find your reference to Monika Lewinsky – in any context regarding Ms. Wong – “charming” or “humorous.” Nothing about your sexist, ageist, substantively lacking, statements is acceptable. As a politically aware woman, as an adult in this modern reality, I’m highly offended at your stated opinions. But it’s really nice of you to employ a couple chicks at SDNR. That makes me feel a lot better about your motives. (?)

    • admin says:

      Your response is at best disingenuous, at worst outright dishonest. If all of this is what you meant to say, you would have said it in the first place. And if, upon further reflection, you’ve thought better of your original piece, the appropriate action is not to back-pedal in the comments here, but a retraction and apology at San Diego News Room. I’ll respond in more depth in a separate post.

      -Lucas O’Connor

  3. David King says:

    I’m sorry I made a comment that offended you. I have deleted this text from the column (though it has not updated on the “front end” of the site). I have also hired numerous women to work for my law practice, and I will continue to create jobs for people of both sexes.

    Do you believe Ms. Wong has the appropriate level of work experience for this position? If Ms. Wong had graduated from college at 8, then a 24 year old could be qualified for this job.

  4. Sara_H says:

    Mr. King –

    Thank you for your apology and for removing the inappropriate Lewinsky reference. I still question how you initially thought it’s use argued a valid point in relation to Ms. Wong, but appreciate your response regardless.

    I didn’t interview the other candidates to state with certainty that Ms. Wong is the best from the pool for the position, but you’re probably right. The young, impressionable, inexperienced Ms. Wong (in line with your assessment) was probably forever tainted by working under Gary Gallegos, however brief the duration. He’s held a powerful, non-elected, non-partisan ED position at SANDAG for years, and has likely done more damage to our region than have any of our elected officials. Ignoring data that doesn’t support his personal agenda, advising the Board accordingly, etc., very much as you project Ms. Wong will fulfill her role. His “years of experience” equate to years of abuse of his position.

    Who would you suggest is better for the job?

  5. David King says:

    I could name a number of people better suited, with more experience managing people, more experience in government, and far less partisan, but then I’d be dragging them into a battle which they did not enter of their own volition.
    I did write that Ms. Wong had a good job at SANDAG, and I have respect for city planners (having defended their work in court). I am not sure what Gary Gallegos has to do with this issue, except changing the subject (from Ms. Wong to me to Mr. Gallegos). It’s an effective strategy but I am staying on the subject of Ms. Wong’s qualifications 2 1/2 years after obtaining a bachelors, and her disqualifying partisan ties. I believe (and wrote) she is destined to be successful in politics, but I don’t believe this position will help her over the long run.
    I do not dismiss all people with progressive politics or different beliefs about public policies than my own. Isn’t Ms. Wong’s position different from most? Isn’t she also a bit too close to the partisan heat to be drawing the new districts?
    Ms. Wong said on KUSI “No one recruited me for this job.” I don’t believe this to be a true statement. How many other jobs was she seeking at the time? How did she come aware of this position? She won’t allow time for our writer to interview her.

    • admin says:

      Guilty until proven innocent is a lazy and unethical journalistic MO. It isn’t your job as a “journalist” to posit conspiracy theories and force people to disprove them. That’s politics (and bad politics). If you are going to do politics, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend to be a journalist.

      • Andy Cohen says:

        But that’s Republican politics at it’s best (worst). Smear the subject, pass off lies and innuendo as fact, and repeat often enough so that people actually believe your nonsense.

        But hey, it’s apparently OK when a Republican does it, right?

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