Political campaigns — from the village to Washington

DEL MAR — Marti and Peter Kaye are living a less stressful, more sedate life in the city compared to earlier eras when Peter was pumping all his energy into state and national political campaigns during the l960s and 1970s.
An award-winning journalist by profession and a registered Democrat early on, it was his friendship with Herb Klein, a staunch Republican and former communications director for President Richard Nixon and editor of the San Diego Union, that cast Kaye into the rough and tumble, cut and slash, political campaigns that once labeled him a hatchet man.
At one time or another he was involved with the campaigns of U.S. senators, Gov. Pete Wilson, presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Nixon and several state-level politicians.
When public radio began to challenge the print media, Kaye adapted to it as an on-air reporter and anchor. During the Watergate era he was a major anchor with live daily reports of the hearings that eventually doomed Nixon.
He also was an on the spot reporter when President John Kennedy was assassinated.
Later returning to his Del Mar surroundings, Kaye believed his neighbor, John Silber, a UCSD music professor, would be a perfect fit for a seat on City Council and agreed to be his campaign manager.
“It was uphill all the way,” Kaye recalled. “As a politician, John was a better music man. His political utterings hardly qualified him to lead the village on the council level.”
So Kaye took advantage of Silber’s musical acumen by assembling a jazz band in which Silber played the trombone. The group made the rounds of the neighborhoods on a flat bed truck that was colorfully festooned with bunting, balloons and a leaky radiator. Every few blocks the campaign came to a halt while Kaye and his co-driver replenished the water supply.
Silber tied for the second spot on the ballot. Marti perhaps was the first person to stress the importance of absentee voting. When these were counted, 16 of them favored Silber — enough to make him the winner.
Marti remains active in community affairs. Kaye has just published a 260-page book titled “Contrarian.” His friends agree the title fits him to a “C.” The book is available at Earth Song Book Store and amazon.com.


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