By Doug Porter
Local Democrats lost big at the polls last night, as City Councilman Kevin Faulconer cruised to an estimated nine point victory over David Alvarez in the final mayoral showdown.
The much vaunted ground game for the Alvarez campaign turned out to be a disappointment, as turnout was lower than expected (the final numbers are dependent on 36,000 provisional votes). Mail in votes, as opposed to voting at polling places, which tend towards Republican candidates, were the deciding factor. Democratic party activist enthusiasm for their candidate clearly did not translate into the needed higher voter participation in traditionally supportive areas of the city.
It’s also true that the side with the nastiest attack ads won. The Lincoln club mailers attacking Alvarez’s character via gangster-esque photo-shopped images did a better job of motivating voters than labor’s portrayal of a smiling Kevin Faulconer as the tool of an amorphous set of downtown developers.
As the longest serving member of the City Council, Kevin Faulconer’s familiarity served him well. The Democrats hope of a fresh new face on the slate putting some distance between their candidate and the past was not enough to overcome the sense of civic shame many voters felt in the aftermath of the Bob Filner fiasco.
What this election proves more than anything else is that many city residents won’t bother to vote without a big name on ballot. While competing economic interests and racial fears may have driven the actual turnout, the real winner was “we can’t be bothered”.
At downtown’s US Grant Hotel Lincoln Club Chairman Bill Lynch was quoted (in a tweet from photographer Sam Hodgson) saying, “It’s over, let’s go back to drinking.”
In Barrio Logan, a host of Democrats, starting with UFCW’s Mickey Gasparian and ending with iMayor Todd Gloria, thanked the large crowd for their efforts. Chants of “Si Se Puede” were not enough to drive away the sense of disappointment that grew as the night progressed. Continuing the activism tapped into by the Alvarez candidacy will be a big challenge for local progressives.
Faulconer’s win is a big big deal for the political party that he so carefully distanced himself from throughout the election. It’s proof that Republicans can win with a pro-choice, pro-gay rights candidate who’s at least nominally environmentally friendly. They’ve gained a big city mayor in a blue state in an era when they’re otherwise scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fielding candidates.
Alvarez’s loss is also a big deal for local Democrats. The weakness and disorganization of the county party organization presages an almost certain amount of bloodletting. Anger and disappointment from both the Filner and Fletcher episodes that was barely covered over for the sake of unity will certainly boil over in coming weeks.
In its most extreme manifestation, some die hard Filner denialists (who weren’t playing nice with the whole party unity thing) were publicly claiming the Alvarez candidacy was part of the tinfoil hat set United Nations Agenda 21 conspiracy.
As far as San Diego’s direction is concerned, the prospect of a veto-proof Democratic majority on the City Council means that some of the progress made over the past few months is safe for now. However, without strong political leadership from the top, it’s likely that the Barrio Logan Community Plan is toast, as is the low-income housing developer’s fee.
Of even more concern will be the impact of the Lincoln Club/Chamber types on administrative and operational processes in City Hall. I’d watch the City’s Planning, Neighborhoods & Economic Development Department for signs of a roll back to the roll-out-the-barrel days for the local gentry. I’d venture a guess that Bill Fulton’s Smart Growth vision will be curtailed, if not eliminated.
Take a deep breath folks. It’s only one election. And there are plenty more coming up in the near future. Meanwhile we’ll be keeping an eye out for the downsides of the wheeling and dealing certain to resume once the Lincoln Club types get over their hangovers.
The Next Big Scam Diego
Forget the Chargers stadium idea for the moment. Another sports scam looms on the horizon, one with a proven record of picking the taxpayers pocket while promising an economic windfall.
After being told by the Sailing Events Association about a potential 1 million spectators, San Diego’s Port Commissioners voted 7-0 yesterday to submit a bid to host the 35th America’s Cup race in 2017.
San Francisco, which hosted the last round of this rich man’s regatta, was considered to be the leading contender for the next round. Today’s UT-San Diego says “…America’s Cup officials are looking into other venues because San Francisco has yet to offer the same terms as it did for 2013.”
A report in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle gives some insight as to why the bay area city and its port district might be having second thoughts.
San Francisco’s red ink from the 34th America’s Cup doubled Monday, with updated figures showing the city lost $11.5 million hosting the event.
Preliminary figures released in December showed the regatta had cost taxpayers at least $5.5 million, but that number did not include expenses for the Port of San Francisco, a city department with its own budget funded by rent revenue from its property, not taxes.
The Cup and two related exhibition matches in 2012 had a net cost to the port of $5.5 million, and their cost to the general fund, the city’s main spending account, was revised upward to $6 million, according to a new report by the Board of Supervisors budget and legislative analyst. That meant the event cost the city a total of $11.5 million.
Bold projections about a $1.4 billion economic impact of the races on the local economy fell way short. A study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute pegged the return at $346 million.
Local private sector donations, expected to top $32 million towards paying expenses ended up totaling $12 million. Total tax revenue was pegged at $5.8 million, meaning that San Francisco subsidized an event limited to billionaire participants.
The current “impasse” leading the America’s Cup to look elsewhere involves a refusal on their part to pay rent for city venues and being compelled to pay union rates for labor.
Russell Coutts, chief executive of Oracle Team USA, the 2017 hosts for the event told the New York Times that San Diego, Hawaii and ‘other sites’ were being actively considered.
Hetero-Marriage Program a Bust
You might not remember this, but a big part of the GOP agenda a decade ago was “promoting marriage” as a way of saving society from –gasp– homosexuals. The results are in…
From Think Progress:
The millions the federal government has spent on programs aimed at promoting marriage and boosting marriage rates have had little discernible impact on marriage or divorce rates, according to new research from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research.
Since 2001, the government will have spent about $800 million on the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI) by the end of the fiscal year. That year was when the Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children & Families decided that strengthening marriage was one of the nine main priorities for the agency. Spending increased by $117 million between 2000 and 2010, including a $150 million boost as part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act, peaking at $142 million for 2009. HMI programs can use the money on marriage education, skills training, and mentoring programs, as well as public advertising campaigns and high school education programs.
Yet over that same time period, the country’s marriage rate continued its “precipitous decline” that started in the 1970s, falling 26 percent over the decade after 2000, the report finds. The divorce rate didn’t see much of a change
On This Day: 1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded. 1940 – Mutual Radio presented the first broadcast of the radio play “The Adventures of Superman.” 1968 – Jimi Hendrix returned home to Seattle where he received a key to the city and an honorary high school diploma. He also played for the students of Garfield High School from which he had dropped out.
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David Lundin says
A fair description of the Faulconer, Lincoln Club, Jerry Sanders, Chamber of Commerce campaign: “It may not have been the dirtiest political campaign ever, but it was highly negative virtually from beginning to end.” Manchester UT 2.12.2014.
Faulconer does not have a history of “transparency and ethics ” either. A goal of the UT for the next Mayoral administration.
Perhaps the UT and its Watchdogs [Sure, that’s going to happen….] , and Doug Porter and others, will keep Faulconer, his staff, his Building and Planning Departments and other staff under close observation to ensure transparency and ethics.
A good start might be major changes in the City policies re: Street Closing Permits. The bizarre, discretionary and secret procedures now in existence have thus far permitted Faulconer’s spouse to profit greatly from being uniquely privy to the unpublished and ever-changing “rules” that govern this process.
Her clients pay little or nothing in City fees, while other permit applicants not “paying to play” have paid much more.
Let’s see some light shed on this arbitrary, capricious, discretionary , secret and highly profitable [to Ms. Faulconer and the Mayor-Elect anyway] process.
Ok, will throw you a bone… as to outside interests. Nope, not just the Lincoln Club
I did a couple extensive analysis already on my blog, no link from here needed. But when I got the call, my mind first went Koch brothers… well, it is worst.
As to the rest. I guess I was the only analyst in this town to maintain that it was a republican race to lose. And yup, there is something to be said about the phone banking operation. When I followed advised from friends OUTSIDE San Diego, worst, OUSIDE California, to mostly make them stop, that is a problem.
I know moderate people who did not vote for Alvarez simply because he supports abortion. Perhaps progressives should rethink the “pro-choice” agenda. The “choice” should be made when facing an opportunity of getting pregnant, not during pregnancy. Otherwise, it is called irresponsible behavior. That being said, I support abortion for medical needs or in the case of rape.
Doug Porter says
1. Both candidates support a women’s right to chose. (Faulconer’s kinda quiet about it)
2. The Mayor’s office and the City of San Diego have absolutely nothing to do with permitting, funding or enabling abortions. So a politician’s stance on this issue is completely irrelevant when considering the office they were running for.
1. Obviously, Faulconer had a better strategy and perhaps his silence on the issue was one of the winning elements of it.
2. I know that, this is why I still voted for Alvarez. However, many people use the position on “pro-choice” vs. pro-life as a way to assess candidate’s character. For them a pro-choice position is a disqualifying characteristic.
On the other hand Sergey, many folks find the government restricting abortion position as an automatic reason to vote for the other candidate.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy says
This is actually a pretty good look at the implications of this loss. A sad day for our city but there are other battles to fight in the near future. On to District 2, District 6 and CD 52.
Next Big Scam:
Here is what the New York Times opinion piece said about the just done Super Bowl.
Obvious to me can now be applied to:
Convention Center Expansion
Andy Cohen says
So by this accounting, no city should ever host a major event….EVER?
doug porter says
The America’s Cup is the big city version of trickle down, and by now people ought to know better. But, hey, the vote at the Port Commission was 7-0; maybe they’ve been promised some magic money growing dust.
This is NOT the AC of some 20-odd years ago, when three of them took place here. We would be only the venue in ca. 2017, and nothing else.
One difference to be very aware of (and it’s a big one): San Diego would have NO first-hand stake in the races’ outcome. The current Trustee of the Cup is the Golden Gate YC of San Francisco; and will remain so until/unless a foreign challenger defeats their defender on the water – that has NOT changed, though it might look like just about everything else about the event has lately.
The onus for the next defense – and where it takes place – remains on SF to sort out, and we and Hawaii et al are mere bargaining chips in the ongoing negotiations. Between you, me and the proverbial wallpaper, it’s not going to happen here…
Jay Powell says
RE: (Faulconer is) ” at least nominally environmentally friendly”. Not sure where he gets the nominally rating. He did not respond to Sierra Club questionnaire and was only one of the four lead candidates to skip their primary forum. The mailers said he had an “F” grade on the League of Conservation Voters votes rating. There was talk by some that he may be in the vanguard of a new moderate Republican party. Let’s see who he puts in charge of Bill Fulton and the climate action plan and what he does about transit and protecting open space and the air we breathe from new fossil power plants and sprawl development before we start gushing over him as the Teddy Roosevelt of the 21st century….
Brian Brady says
This comment sums up the race:
“We had a fat 65 year old real estate agent knocking on doors illegally (I live in a gate guarded community in Coastal North County) giving out Faulconer door signs. Republicans had a great ground game”
Republican volunteers wanted this more than Democratic volunteers and knew the labor unions would be Alvarez’ troops. Republicans outhustled and outworked Democrats.
Andy Cohen says
Ummmm…..the Republican “volunteers” were paid walkers brought in from out of town because they couldn’t find any locally willing to do it.
Faulconer had no ground game to speak of, but still won. There’s a lesson in there somewhere…..probably just the nature of low turnout elections and the difficulty in getting Dems to the polls in off year elections. But no, there can be no comparison between the ground games. Alvarez wins. Hands down. It just didn’t win him the election.
It did not stop at the volunteers, as I pointed above. But campaigns fail to throw this in the face of the other side like always.
Brian Brady says
Okay Andy. You know best.
Sorry Andy, but this comment just isn’t rational.
Whether paid or true volunteers, the Reptiles apparently did better in getting voters to the polls. Proof was in the damn pudding.
Andy Cohen says
Has little to do with anything the Repubs actually did, and more to do with the historical trends of a low turnout election and the fact that mail in/absentee voters tend to vote Republican. Faulconer won the race on absentee votes. The Alvarez camp knew that ginning up turnout was their bread and butter, and they worked their asses off to do it, but came up WAAAAYYY short.
Alvarez had the far superior ground game, but for some reason Democrats couldn’t be bothered to actually go and vote. Which is just sad given the significance of the race.
I think some Dems didn’t vote for David because they thought he was too young and not experienced enough when compared to Faulconer who had more years to be visible in the communities he represented. Some told me this when I talked with them. Others just didn’t vote because of that.
I also think that Father Joe’s endorsement helped Faulconer. It sure surprised me but
I realized that despite working with the homeless, he hobnobs with the Faulconer crowd to get funding, as he’s voted Repug for quite some time, which I found out later.
Two late endorsements didn’t help either: Guv Brown so late and Pres. Obama’s was almost ridiculous in my mind.
I just hope David gets re-elected to the CC and can run for mayor after that.