By Gordon Clanton /Del Mar Sandpiper
The March 3 inauguration of Kevin Faulconer as mayor takes San Diego back to where it was before Bob Filner, back to where it always was for as long I have lived in these parts: Moderate Republican mayors whose allegiance is to downtown business interests, always favoring business over labor, big business over small business, development over environment, downtown over other neighborhoods, cronyism over inclusion, plutocracy over democracy.
True, Maureen O’Connor was a Democrat by family history, but she married into great wealth and was mentored by and allied with Republican mayor (later senator and governor) Pete Wilson. Roger Hedgecock was a different type of moderate Republican but he, like Filner, was forced from office.
The last Democrat prior to Filner and O’Connor, Frank Curran, was replaced by Pete Wilson 44 years ago. The most recent Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, went from city hall to running the Chamber of Commerce and never missed a beat.
So Faulconer’s victory takes San Diego back to where it always was. Except that the city council now has a 5-4 Democratic majority that often divides along partisan lines. When the council appoints Faulconer’s successor, the Dem majority will be a veto-proof 6-3. After the council elections of 2014, Democrats may hold a 7-2 edge.
Faulconer, like the business lobby, opposes increasing the minimum wage – no matter how long it’s been since it was raised. He supports business-backed initiatives that would overturn the carefully negotiated Barrio Logan Community Plan. He opposes the increase in the the linkage fee developers pay to an affordable housing fund. He is a full-throated advocate of privatization of government functions, and his campaign painted city workers and their unions as those most responsible for San Diego’s budget woes, unfairly suggesting that Democratic candidate David Alvarez got most of his financial support from the very unions that had looted San Diego.
Faulconer, of course, got most of HIS campaign money from business interests. He benefitted from the “independent” campaign of the pro-business Lincoln Club that savaged first Nathan Fletcher, the newest Democrat, and then David Alvarez with almost daily hate mailers. The pros know that negative advertising (a) works, and (b) tends to drive down voter turnout — two good reasons Republicans will keep on doing it.
Faulconer was the handpicked candidate of the Republican establishment, selected at an August 31 meeting in La Jolla of about 30 wealthy, white Republican men. By unifying early behind one candidate, while the Democrats were splitting their support two or three ways, this group all but assured Faulconer’s victory. Read about it here.
BTW: In this new age of open-primary voting, Republicans will have an advantage because of their “party discipline,” which derives from their centralized control by a small number of wealthy people and their agents (plutocracy).
So San Diego moves into the future as the only big city in America with a Republican mayor, and this despite a 14 point Democratic registration advantage. San Diego is the last big city where a majority of those who vote is more inclined to blame the unions than to fear the cabal.
Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at <email@example.com>.
Originally posted at the Del Mar Sandpiper, March 2014