Mayoral and City Council Races Swamped with Cash
By Doug Porter
UPDATED:5/11–Fundraising totals have been updated. It seems there were some errors in the database.
Donors to Republican candidates facing Democrats in Mayoral and Council races in San Diego have ponied up nearly $2.7 million in direct and indirect support for the upcoming primary election. Democrats are lagging far behind, with $510,263 collected in those contests.
And that doesn’t count the ‘hidden money’ flowing from GOP interests to committees like the Neighborhood Services Coalition in Support of Anthony Bernal or the Urban Neighbors United Supporting Ricardo Flores in District 3 and 9 contests where there is no viable Republican opposition.
Republicans in San Diego are clearly worried by the very idea of a yuuuge turnout in the general election and are marshaling their financial resources towards winning as many primary contests as possible.
Why are Republicans worried? Last Friday, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted 11 states toward Democrats in light of Trump’s status as the likely GOP nominee.
And this kind of polling, via The Hill:
Nearly half of voters in a new poll would not support candidates who have endorsed likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Thirty eight percent said they are “much less likely” to vote for those who back Trump in the Morning Consult survey released early Tuesday.
Eleven percent said they are “somewhat less likely” to cast ballots for candidates supporting the billionaire.
California’s top-two primary system means the upcoming June voting represents the only realistic chance the GOP has locally of winning any elections in contestable districts.
The first votes in the 2016 California Primary election were cast yesterday, mostly by eager Bernie Sanders supporters who made the trek to their local registrar of voters.
(FYI- It’s illegal to photograph your ballot in California, as many first day voters apparently thought was a good idea before sharing on social media.)
An Obscene Orgy of Faulconer Finance
As the Golden Boy of Republican politics in the Golden State, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has raised slightly less than a million dollars to date. His competition, namely Democrat Ed Harris and Independent Lori Saldaña, have collected one-tenth of that amount.
The early polling (60% plus favorable) on Faulconer served as a strong deterrent to high-profile Democrats who might have otherwise jumped at the opportunity to be mayor of the eighth largest city in the US.
In January, Saldaña jumped in, seemingly because nobody else was willing to take the mayor on, saying she offered a clear contrast to Faulconer’s policies. She’s been doing a good job of pointing out the ugly cracks behind the always smiling veneer put up by the incumbent mayor.
Yesterday she was endorsed by Democracy for America (DFA), a political action committee founded by former presidential candidate and DNC chair Gov. Howard Dean.
Democrat Ed Harris swore he wasn’t interested in running for mayor. Believe me, he was asked. Repeatedly.
As an interim city councilman, appointed to finish out Faulconer’s D2 term when he ascended to the top job, Harris had impressed many with his integrity and willingness to take a stand on governance issues that often flew under the radar.
With two brand name challengers, Mayor Faulconer has been forced to slightly modify his campaign strategy consisting of a blizzard of press releases and a gaggle of photo opportunities. There are two more (the first was in early April, broadcast on Univision) debates.
From John Lamb at City Beat:
…Harris notes that the remaining two debates will occur “two weeks after absentee voting has already begun” (a May 24 forum hosted by incumbent friendly KUSI and the San Diego Union-Tribune) and “when a majority of ballots will already have been cast” (a June 3 event put on by NBC7 and Voice of San Diego).
Notice I said “slightly” modify. San Diegans can expect wall-to-wall TV commercials in the coming weeks depicting the mayor with a halo, surrounded by adoring cherubs recruited from a focus group-approved talent pool.
According to Matt Potter at the Reader, the first 66 of 280 spots purchased on KUSI started airing on Sunday.
And The Candidates Are…
The candidate listings in this article are excerpted from a draft of the upcoming San Diego Free Press Progressive Voter Guide, to be published in the next 10 days or so.
The final version will include endorsements in many contests. And yes, it’s proudly biased.
Yesterday inewsource released a handy-dandy database including “every itemized contribution made since January 1, 2007, to support a political candidate, ballot issue or independent committee that raised or spent more than $10,000.”
NOTE: The totals for candidates have been updated as of 5/11 to reflect corrections made to the inewsource database.
I’ve taken the liberty of running searches on the candidates and embedding the results in the Show Me the Money! link after each candidate’s name. The totals shown reflect campaign and committee support as of May 9th. I think the embedded searches will automatically update themselves, so you can get the latest numbers.
The links embedded in each candidate’s name will take you to websites with additional information about them. In some cases, you’ll see the Democrats endorsed multiple candidates as ‘acceptable.’
Endorsement Codes Key: Republicans 💀, Democrats ➕, Labor ⊕, Run Women Run Ϣ
Ed Harris (D) ➕ ⊕
Show Me the Money! $43, 395.00
Termed out Councilwoman Sheri Lightner’s seat is the big money race in the primary contest. Republicans and their business allies are pumping in massive amounts of moolah, hoping to avoid the November elections.
From the Union-Tribune:
Local business groups have ramped up efforts to give Republicans majority control of the San Diego City Council with nearly $300,000 in recent campaign donations to independent committees supporting candidate Ray Ellis.
Those donations could sway the crucial council race in north coastal District 1, where Republican Ellis faces Democrat Barbara Bry and three other challengers in the June 7 primary.
An Ellis win could allow Republicans to flip the 5-4 majority enjoyed by Democrats and take control of the council. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a November runoff.
So what’s the big deal here? Both leading candidates tout their business backgrounds. Where you get past the obvious differences–she’s good with a minimum wage increase, he’s not– this contest is about looking backward or looking forward.
Ellis is about preserving a real estate-centric-largely-white-male status quo, which constitutes the basis upon how San Diego has been governed over the past century.
Bry’s no proletarian upstart, but her inclination towards building inclusiveness in her various ventures, including Run Women Run (a bipartisan group encouraging women candidates) represents the future.
Bruce Lightner (Sheri’s Husband) got into the race because he can’t stand fellow Republican Ray Ellis. Now if he’d just do a mailing saying he’s the real Republican in the race….
Kyle Heiskala [D]
No Funding Data Available
Louis A. Rodolico ?
No Funding Data Available
This is an all Democratic contest, or so it would appear. (As such, I didn’t count it or D9 in the Dems vs Repubs accounting at the top of this story)
D3 is the most reliably politically engaged and Democratic district is San Diego. Voters supportive of LGBTQ issues have long dominated the political scene.
Anthony Bernal works for termed-out incumbent Councilman Todd Gloria. His political stances don’t seem much different from Chris Ward, who works for State Senator Marty Block.
Bernal has taken money from former UT-San Diego publisher Doug Manchester, who pretty much became satan in many people’s minds with his support of Proposition 8, the now-overturned measure banning same-sex marriages in California.
Also, Bernal is straight. Ward is gay. Manchester’s money has become a campaign issue.
The rightwing/business money supporting Bernal is, I’m told, an effort to divert the resources of liberal-leaning groups away from District One. (Somebody should really tell those folks with the Restaurant Association to stop bragging about it.)
This is, for the near future anyway, a reliably Republican-leaning district. Kersey is considered in Republican circles to be a likely successor to Kevin Faulconer.
Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis (D) ➕
No Funding Data Available
Show Me the Money! $4,014.42
D7 is considered a true swing district. Republican incumbent Scott Sherman won with a narrow majority in the 2012 primary over Democratic opponent Mat Kostrinsky and two other candidates.
For this election anyway, Sherman has all the advantages of incumbency over two Democratic greenhorns.
Jose Caballero is a Democrat of the Bernie Sanders persuasion and has maintained a high profile in activist circles. Justin DeCesare is a Navy vet and real estate broker running with the blessing of many local Democratic party icons.
Scott Sherman [R, Incumbent] 💀
Show Me the Money! $616,425.46
The recently created and mostly Democratic district is split economically by El Cajon Boulevard. The more well-to-do residents north of this divide have historically turned out in higher numbers than those in the southern reaches.
The burning question with the primary election is whether enough Latino and newly enfranchised immigrant voters will show up to vote.
Among the major contenders, Ricardo Flores comes from a family with roots in Chicago activism; Georgette Gomez has constituencies in the Latino, environmental, and LGBTQ voting blocs; and Sarah Saez is a labor organizer with connections to many activist circles, credited with the extraordinary successes of the mostly East African taxi drivers union.
Attorney Araceli Martinez also has a history of activism, having served as President of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association and as President of the La Raza Law Students Association while in law school.
Just three weeks ago, City Heights Town Councilwoman Tami LeMurillo threw her hat into the ring as a write-in candidate.
So here’s the deal: Flores IE Committee is funded by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee. (It’s named sufficiently different so it doesn’t show up in simple candidate name searches) That’s on top of contributions directly to his campaign by a gaggle of usually GOP donors. Those of us at SDFP have worked with both Gomez and Saez on various causes and wish they weren’t running against each other.
Reminder: In some cases, you’ll see the Democrats endorsed multiple candidates as ‘acceptable.’
Tomorrow: A Gaggle of Legislative Contests, most of which are barely contested.
Soon Come: The San Diego City Attorney race, the Supes and the various ballot measures. (I’m writing as fast as I can.)
Also…Please! If you spot any factual errors (my opinions are never wrong ;) ) email me: DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org
On This Day: 1869 – Thanks to an army of thousands of Chinese and Irish immigrants, who laid 2,000 miles of track, the nation’s first transcontinental railway line was finished by the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific lines at Promontory Point, Utah. 1933 – The Nazis staged massive public book burnings in Germany. 1968 – Jim Morrison (Doors) incited a riot during a Chicago concert.
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