By Jim Miller
Last Tuesday, fortune favored the bold. David Alvarez defied the pundits and political insiders and beat the prohibitive favorite, Nathan Fletcher, in the race to face Kevin Faulconer in the run-off to be San Diego’s next mayor. This was a seminal moment for San Diego—perhaps the biggest political upset in history of the city.
It just wasn’t supposed to happen. Guys like this aren’t supposed to have a chance. Nobody knew who he was, the favored one had already been chosen, and all the experts thought he couldn’t win. He had powerful party insiders opposing him, the Governor of California campaigned against him, Sacramento politicians came out of the woodwork to support his opponent, and he was down near the single digits in the polls.
Everybody knew it was a crazy to run a little-known Latino councilman from South of 8 in a low turnout special election against a well-funded, favored son of the local establishment. It wasn’t his turn. The deck was stacked against him. Only folks who’d lost their minds would support him.
Then he won. David beat Goliath.
What was important about the interparty conflict that the primary represented was not the battle of personalities that much of the local media is obsessed with but the contest of political philosophies and orientations it represented. Alvarez’s unexpected triumph was a victory for progressives over corporate Democrats, activist over machine politics, and social movement unionism over business unionism. Like De Blassio’s win in New York City and similar triumphs of progressive populists across the country, Alvarez’s victory is a sign that business as usual inside the Democratic party and in the country as a whole can be successfully challenged.
And the consequence of all this is that the historic pivot toward a new, diverse, inclusionary San Diego has a chance to continue. Alvarez’s candidacy redeems the promise of a better San Diego that Filner betrayed. Thus out of a summer scandal and a fall of discord, new hope has been born.
On Tuesday night, you could see it in the joyful crowd of people celebrating the Alvarez comeback at Bread and Salt in Barrio Logan. It was multiracial, young and old, blue and white collar—a living embodiment of the notion of the beloved community. As a friend posted on social media, “No matter what the eventual election results are, I hope the Alvarez watch party is what the future of San Diego looks like.”
It is, and the future is now. And that’s something we should be excited about.
Surely, it won’t be easy, but we can do this. The Lincoln Club will crank up their hate machine and Manchester Inc. will unleash its toxic word hoard defaming all things Alvarez as the next Fliner nightmare brought to you by union thugs while Kevin Faulconer does his best neighborhood loving Filner imitation brought to you by downtown power brokers and developer money. And if that doesn’t work, they’ll no doubt remind you that David Alvarez is a “south of 8” guy in as many ways as they can muster.
But no matter how hard they try, they can’t change the fact that it’s not their San Diego anymore. Our city is move diverse, democratic, and less inclined to believe that Republicans in sheep’s clothing have their interests in mind.
And Faulconer is no moderate. He is bought and paid for, business as usual brought to you by a back room meeting between the House of Manchester and the Chamber of Commerce crew. Simply put, he doesn’t believe in Republican or Democratic potholes, he just spits out the party line from the memory hole at the Union Tribune.
Thus the business as usual crew are crowing and popping champagne corks now that they have their desired opponent. There is no way he can win. Not in this election with all their money and connections against him. It just can’t happen . . . until we make it happen and David beats Goliath, again.
bob dorn says
At last, someone mentions that Gov. Jerry Brown, a few other statewide Demos, and local guy, Juan Vargas, went with FletcherNathan and lost. That strange set of endorsements was vintage Brown — an interruption in his progress toward enlightenment — but also points out how little attention is paid San Diego in a state where LA and SF determine most of what happens. Brown can’t, and to his credit doesn’t, claim perfect vision. If he were a tad more in touch with the street he’d agree with you, Jim Miller, when you write about the traditional elite of San Diego:
“But no matter how hard they try, they can’t change the fact that it’s not their San Diego anymore. Our city is more diverse, democratic, and less inclined to believe that Republicans in sheep’s clothing have their interests in mind.”
John P. Falchi says
I agree with Jim Miller that David Alvarez, and those who supported him like the Democratic Central Committee and the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, beat the odds and came out ahead of Nathan Fletcher in the Mayoral Primary. This is to his credit. I, also, heard David quoted as saying that the primary was the hard part, the final election will be easier, since the contrast between what he stands for and what Kevin Faulconer stands for is clear.
Make no mistake about it, David, you will now be up against the PR machine of the controlled media, locally, and the public relations talents of the Faulconer Campaign as its sets itself up to demonize you, much as it did to Donna Frye when she ran against Jerry Sanders before his first term, and almost won in the primary with over 48% of the votes. They made her seem like an unrecognizable witch in the short time between the primary and the general election, which Sanders won overwhelmingly.
To counter this you must, of course, have your campaign team work hard in getting out the vote of those more prone to support you than Faulconer. However, it, also, might be wise to beef up your presentation skills in the meantime. I watched you in some of the candidate gatherings which, between you and Kevin, were, actually, quite friendly. I don’t expect too much of the same in the six debates that you and he have agreed to.
It might be well to direct a small team of your supporters to help put you through some gruelling practice sessions for the public performances that you have ahead. That is where you need to score some points with that portion of the general public that does not really know you. Kevin is a sly cuss and will attempt to outshine you in those sessions. However, I believe you can turn the tables on him if your team does its homework and searches out the key places where he is vulnerable, such as the way in which the key power brokers in this city got together to choose which Republican candidate to get behind, Kevin Faulconer, Ron Roberts, or Carl DeMaio. Only Carl refused to commit to going along with their choice. Kevin and Ron acquiesced to that.
They chose Kevin., and he had clear sailing in the primary with no attacks on him from the right, so he could move as far left on issues like abortion rights as he needed to in order to convince those who hadn’t yet made up their minds, that he was a true moderate on many of the social issues. You have to expose his real, right wing credentials in the positions he has taken over time. Your team has to research has past positions on these issues and call him on his recent stands, particularly if they are just matters of convenience.
By learning the issues you will be debating with him better, and by honing your presentation skills, so that you are as convincing as possible in the things that you stand for, you will be able to overcome whatever initial advantage he may have been perceived to have had by all of those who voted for him in the primary.
If I were you, I would also make a real effort to meet with Mike Aguirre and with Nathan Fletcher to attempt to win them over to campaigning for you, rather than to give you just a nominal endorsement. You will need enthusiastic support from them to win over many of the people who voted for them in the primary, so that the bulk of their supporters support you, rather than staying at home, or supporting Faulconer. If I were you, I would call upon key people who supported them to help you in doing this.
You do not seem to be afraid of hard work, David. However, I do think that you have your job cut out for you, if you are to overcome Kevin’s, 20 percentage point advantage in the short time available, taking into consideration the holidays, and the mid-January beginning of the absentee balloting.
Dorothy Gesick says
You are pitch perfect in your assessment of what needs to be done to secure an Alvarez victory in February. Plenty of work in a very short amount of time!
John Lawrence says
The “south of 8 guy” is the future of Democratic politics in San Diego. We need to get to work and make sure he gets some north of 8 votes. It’s a clear choice: business as usual Republicanism or a Mayor who supports the average working stiff.
sada anand kaur says
Am doing a happy dance! We the people have spoken.
No we can get on with progressive SD agendas.