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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