If I hadn't gone to war and I'd just run for office, maybe I would feel more traditional. I just know my threshold for these kinds of silly things we do is pretty low. Someone says you can't do that because the party insider says so, and I'm like, yeah, I'm not going to lose any sleep over that. In the Marine Corps, you're given a mission, you just get it done. When you bring that into politics, like the tax reform Gov. Brown and I [tried], you just keep going and get it done.
Didn't you take the "no new taxes, ever" Republican pledge?
I did. I don't believe that you build a better economy by raising taxes, but I do believe we can have rational conversations like I did with Gov. Brown.
Will you stick to that pledge? I'm sure a lot of Democrats are thinking, hey, Nathan Fletcher's our new best friend.
I don't support the governor's [ballot initiative tax] plan. I don't think it solves the long-term problems. But as I demonstrated, I'm willing to work on bigger, broader issues [of] the tax code.
One GOP strategist said you've now essentially taken yourself off the list to run for Congress or Senate.
Probably. But a lot of people have ascribed a lot of ambitions on me I've never aspired to myself. I really want to be a mayor. I think it's a job I'm well suited for. San Diego — we have amazing potential. We've had an awful decade. We were cast as "Enron by the Sea." I believe we can enter a rebuilding phase.
You worked for a time for former Rep. Randy Cunningham, who went to prison for bribery.
I was in the office a few months before I went to Iraq and to Africa. It was a very short stint before any of his problems erupted. I didn't know him; I'd only been around him a handful of times.
Your wife, Mindy Tucker, worked for George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She too became a decline-to-state voter. Was it a mutual epiphany?
We've lived through my time in the Legislature. She cites the tax deal with Gov. Brown: We were going to cut taxes on Californians in exchange for closing a loophole [the loophole benefited out-of-state corporations], taking that money to provide relief for small businesses, trying to keep middle-class jobs. When we got hit really hard on that, she was, "What have both parties come to?" We reflected on it a lot. We both kind of got there together.
When I told one colleague who I was interviewing, he said, "Oh, Nathan Fletcher, the famous surfer!" That's not you.
I am a surfer, but if you watch me surf, you'll realize I'm not him. I got invited to go surf with the Wounded Warriors program in San Diego. I show up and this guy with one leg — I think he was a Marine — said, "Who are you?" I said, "Nathan Fletcher," and he said, "I have a picture of Nathan Fletcher, and you're not him."
I said, "I'm the assemblyman running for mayor," and he said, "A politician? I climbed all the way out of my house on one freaking leg to surf with a politician?"
He was fine, but it was pretty funny.
This interview was edited and excerpted from a longer taped transcript. An archive of Morrison's interviews is online at latimes.com/pattasks.