If you like Bernie, you'll want Caballero

Council District 7 candidate's headquartered on his kitchen table

By Ken Leighton

Original Article

Jose Caballero has no problem that his race to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Sherman in city council District 7 isn’t thought to be “contested.” He says the media, pundits, and political bosses all seem to be focusing on the District 1 seat and city attorney races.

“What the [San Diego & Imperial Counties] Labor Council and the Democratic Party all seem to be saying is that it is impossible to beat a Republican incumbent,” says Caballero. “I think that kind of thinking has given them trouble trying to recruit someone to run for mayor.”

But Caballero, 29, suggests the local Democratic establishment’s decision to ignore his race doesn’t make sense, considering District 7’s Democratic DNA.

“The Democrats are 35.8 percent in voter registration, compared to Republicans’ 32.3 percent. Over the last two months Democratic registration in this district has gone up two points overall.”

And Scott Sherman?

“Four years ago Scott Sherman only got 15,575 out of a total of 31,043 votes. That means he won by getting 53 votes over 50 percent.”

The north-of-8/south-of-Miramar District 7 includes Linda Vista, Mission Valley, Tierrasanta, Del Cerro, Serra Mesa, San Carlos, Allied Gardens, and Grantville.

Caballero, an SDSU poli-sci grad, was a former nuclear reactor operator in the U.S. Navy. He is one of two Democrats running to unseat Sherman. The other is Justin DeCesare.

“He is a real estate broker who is also president of the Tierrasanta town council. He and I are both unknowns, but he is more 'establishment.' The best way to describe him versus me is Hilary versus Bernie.”

Caballero really feels the Bern.

“I was one of orchestrators of the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club, chartered in January. We are the first San Diego Democratic Club to officially endorse Bernie Sanders.”

A five-band January 30 fundraising concert for Bernie Sanders at the Worldbeat Center in Balboa Park was canceled by a volunteer four days before the show when an underwriter backed out. Caballero and a handful of organizers stepped up to get the show back on track.

“[He] cancelled the event on Facebook,” Caballero says about the original organizer. “Then he deleted his Facebook account and wouldn’t answer our phone calls or messages, leaving the rest of us to deal with the fallout. One of our volunteers put the cost of the venue [$3000] on her credit card.”

Caballero says in spite of a rainy night and the advertised cancellation four days earlier, the $10-per-head concert broke even and no one lost money.

“We even refunded those who contributed into a Gofundme account to save the show…. Before the concert we were a loose group. Now we are a more solidified, organized group.”

But might the bigger question be: does District 7 have more Bernie or Hillary Dems? Caballero answers that question with his own unscientific findings.

“I have been walking door-to-door since November. I see there is distrust with the party overall. When we had a Bernie rally [in November in Balboa Park] people rushed up to get their picture taken next to our big Bernie cardboard cutout. That’s pretty thrilling in conservative San Diego. I think progressives are rallying around me. The divide between corporate Democrats and progressives is getting clear in my district.”

While he hopes to eventually get a campaign office, Caballero for Council is headquartered on his kitchen table. He says the lack of love from the Democratic central committee is no deal-killer.

“David Alvarez won by talking the issues and walking door-to-door. No one thought he would win. David told me if you actually go out walk and talk to the community, you’re going to win.”

If DeCesare makes it past him in the June 7 primary, Caballero says he will support him against Sherman. But will he continue walking door-to-door?

“If Bernie doesn’t make it and I don’t make it, I may choose another city-council candidate to walk for.”