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San Diego Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher quits GOP

March 28, 2012 |  9:15 am

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a third-term Republican who is running for mayor of San Diego, announced this week he is leaving the GOP and re-registering as an independent. 

The move comes just more than two months before the San Diego mayoral vote, a nonpartisan office. It also deals another blow to a state Republican Party that holds no statewide offices, has faced declining numbers in Sacramento for the last decade and has a depleted stable of potential candidates to challenge Democrats for higher office.

Fletcher, a lifelong Republican and former Marine, has been at odds with his party over the rights of gays to serve in the military, among other issues. Last year, he struck a deal with Assembly Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown to make a change in state corporate tax formulas opposed by the Republican leadership.

His party shift is also a nod to the state’s new election rules, which diminish the importance of party affiliation. Instead of the top vote-getter in each party advancing to a fall run-off for legislative, congressional or statewide offices, the top two finishers, regardless of party, will face off head-to-head.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, Fletcher said of his move: “In all candor, I probably should have done it sooner.”

It is unclear what impact, if any, Fletcher’s move will have on state politics. He is in his final term as an Assemblyman, a term that runs through November. Democrats, who are two votes shy of two-thirds supermajorities in each house, can pass most legislation with simple majority vote except for tax and fee increases, which need a two-thirds vote.

It was also not clear whether Fletcher would continue to caucus with Republicans during his remaining time in Sacramento. Calls to Fletcher and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) were not immediately returned.

--Anthony York in Sacramento

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