Guests: Carl Luna, political scientist, Mesa College
Deborah Seiler, SD County Registrar of Voters
Bob Filner, Mayoral Candidate
Carl DeMaio, Mayoral Candidate
Michael Zucchet, Municipal Employees Association
Jan Goldsmith, San Diego City Attorney
Dave Roberts, Candidate for Supervisor, Dist. 3
Steve Dannon, Candidate for Supervisor, Dist. 3
Related Story: Local Election Results Analyzed
CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Wednesday, June†6th. Our top story on Midday Edition, the votes have been cast, the results are in for the primary election in San Diego. Many of the pundits in the polls were right. Now we have a much clearer idea about how the campaigns will be shaping up toward the general election in November. Mesa†College political science professor, Carl Luna will be helping us work through the numbers and results for the next hour. Welcome back to the show.
LUNA: Nice to be back.
CAVANAUGH: What was your overall impression of the primary results?
LUNA: It was a lot of more interesting races. The turnout was relatively low, and the mayor's race you actually did get Bob Filner come in second placement
CAVANAUGH: We want to talk about the San Diego mayor's race first. And we did invite the top vote getting, Carl DeMaio, to join us. He was not able to be here or to join us on the phone. And that's how you can really tell it's the day after election, when a politician doesn't come on your show.
[ LAUGHTER ]
CAVANAUGH: Now, the polls predicted he would get the highest percentage of the vote. 32% of the vote. But one of the things I've noticed over the last two polling cycles is that DeMaio's numbers didn't seem to move, he seemed to stagnate at around 32% of the vote.
LUNA: That's probably why he has the most to be happy about today, prop B passed, prop A passed. He also has a lot to worry about though because he hit's ceiling of the low 30s. Now, the question, can he grab some of those votes become in November?
CAVANAUGH: Many predicted that the candidate that DeMaio wanted to run against was Bob Filner because of a deluge of negative ads against Nathan Fletcher. He seems to believe that he can beat Bob Filner. Why would a politician, because you're a political scientist, in this position think that?
LUNA: You're looking for a partisan divide. I was just seeing a survey in the Pew Research Center poll, this is the most partisan age we've been in in the last 50 years. Clear distinction, Republican, Democrat, San Diego has a reputation of being a Republican town even though that's shifting. You get your base out, you win in November. Filner showed he can close a deal.
CAVANAUGH: Is the idea that Nathan Fletcher had a significant percentage of the vote, Dumanis took a percentage of the vote, is the idea that the DeMaio campaign is operation under that those votes are automatically going to him?
LUNA: I would quibble with that. When Fletcher went up 15 points in the poll, that's when he left the Republican party. I don't think half that support is gone go over to Carl DeMaio. Dumanis has liberal support, particularly, in the guy lesbian community which is not going to go to DeMaio. So Filner will pick up the rest, and it's all about turnout in November.
CAVANAUGH: Let's move on from DeMaio being the top vote getter. On the phone with us now is San Diego county registrar of voters, Deborah Sylar. Thanks so much for joining us the day after that very busy night for you.
SYLAR: You're so welcome, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: What was the percentage of turnout?
SYLAR: Well, it's not determined entirely yet. As of last night, it was about a 27% turnout. But we still have about 135,000 ballots yet to put into the count. So when all is told, I think that the turnout percentage will probably be closer to about 36, 37%.
CAVANAUGH: You expect it to jump up that much with the mail-ins?
SYLAR: Yes. We had quite's few meg and provisional ballots that were turned in yesterday, some that came in through the U.S. postal service yesterday morning. All of that still has to go into the count.
LUNA: It's nice to know the turnout was bad and not abysmal.
CAVANAUGH: Yes, exactly. You were saying about 30%, right?
LUNA: Somewhere in the low 30s would would normally be this. I'm glad it's above.
CAVANAUGH: Deborah, I know that you had some problems last night with the website crashing again. What is going on with that? Is it just that so many people get on your site to see those early election results?
SYLAR: Well, Maureen, I think we're still trying to figure that out. Our technical services provider, Hewlett-Packard, is still looking into that, and I think we'll probably have a report here very shortly. But it did go down for about an hour and a half. The problem was not with our ballot tabulation system. That was working just fine. And we were able to produce results. It was just that, yes, you're right, we could not post them to the web for about an hour and a half.
CAVANAUGH: Now, were there any problems with the new ballots? With the new top-two primary ballots?
SYLAR: Not really that I could tell. In every primary, we have voters who tend to be a little bit careless in their voting, they either intentionally overvote, we saw a tremendous amount of write had ins, Donald duck. I don't know whether that is a reflection that people just aren't as serious in a primary election. I think that tends to be the case. But I don't think it was really confusion about the top-two.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. When I saw my ballot, I was wondering, we have gone through it, and so forth, and I was a little taken aback by actually by the way it looked.
LUNA: Like on the U.S. Senate race with Diane Feinstein, if you wanted to find her name, you had to look way in. And I think there was another Diane above it. And you had to dig through all of that. And some of the local races, there was just a couple of names. I don't think it caused that much more voter confusion than you usually have. But conversely, it doesn't look like this idea of the open primary really boosted turnout the way it was hope.
CAVANAUGH: Is that one of the things that the open primary was supposed to do?
LUNA: If you have an open primary, independents can come in and easily vote, and they'd show up. But once again, the independents didn't show up as much.
CAVANAUGH: Deborah, did you hear about any problems with the ballots at the polling places? People asking workers what was going on with the new ballots?
SYLAR: No, we really didn't. I think that that went very smoothly. Only in a couple of places was there some confusion about the ballot issuance. But I do agree with Carl about that U.S. Senate race. And I think part of the problem is because the statute that was enacted requires us to print party preference, and then the party for each name. And I think that made it more difficult to pick out the names. So I would agree with Carl very much on that U.S. Senate contest.
CAVANAUGH: Did you encounter any problems at the polling places?
SYLAR: No, it was actually pretty quiet. Always there are a few complaints, and we did have some complaints about a couple of poll workers who always seemed to misunderstand the fact that ID is not required, and so as soon as those complaints come into us, we immediately contact the precinct workers and say that they're not supposed to be asking for that. I think part of the confusion there is that so many people come in, and they show their sample ballot almost as a form of ID. And I think that throws them off. But there were very few reports of that.
CAVANAUGH: I see. So some poll workers did ask for ID?
SYLAR: Yes, they did.
CAVANAUGH: How are the primary races different for which your office than general elections? Is there more work involved?
SYLAR: Well, in some respects, there's more work involved because we have not only the top-two contest, but we also have separate party ballots because of the presidential contest. And so for us, it's the combination of the relatively closed presidential primary, then the generic open part of the primary. So yes, we do have more work in preparing all of those ballots. And because some of the parties allow voters to close over, we have to try to guess how many of those nonpartisan voters are going to come into the polling place and ask for either a democratic or American independent party ballot. We have no way of knowing what percentage of those voters will ask for that ballot.
CAVANAUGH: When do you start gearing up for the general?
SYLAR: We've already started. We're already preparing calendars, we're fielding questions, and the actual candidate filing period will start next month.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you very much taking time out this morning, I know that last night was very busy for you.
SYLAR: You're very welcome.
CAVANAUGH: In the studio with us now is Bob Filner, welcome and thank you for coming in after a long night last night.
FILNER: Well, it was a short night. We didn't get a lot of sleep. But it's a real honor to be in the mayor's runoff for the eighth biggest city in the country. It's an awesome responsibility, and I feel humbled by being here.
CAVANAUGH: Your 30% of the vote was higher than the polls predicted. Why do you think that is?
FILNER: Well, I think people finally figured out that I'm the most well-qualified and well-prepared candidate for mayor that's probably ever run in this city. These issues are tough issues, don't care if they're the pension or jobs or the environment. Whatever it is, it needs someone who knows the complexity of these issues. I've served a term on the School Board, I was elected twice to the City Council, ten times to Congress including chairman of the veterans' affairs committee. So I have the background and experience. But I also have a vision. And I'm asking San Diegans to dream about the future, about what we want. And I can help turn those dreams into reality.
CAVANAUGH: Is it part of the fact that you did better than the polls suggested, that the fact that you amped things up in the final weeks of the race? There was some talk, you know, as you know, in the beginning of the race that perhaps you weren't taking the race seriously enough. That seemed to change about a month ago. So how has your campaign style changed?
FILNER: Well, we campaigned maybe a different way than the media saw. You can't argue with success. You know, I won the election. I've run 25 elections in San Diego. I think we know how to do it. We were going door to door, and on the phone identifying voters the whole time that people must have thought we weren't doing anything. I have decades of working with people. I can't go a block in San Diego without someone coming up to me and saying you helped me with this immigration problem or you were at my son's graduation and gave him his diploma. Those kinds of things are not seen by the media or anybody else. And that's I think my secret weapon. These years of service to our community.
CAVANAUGH: A lot of people were kind of confused in getting a nonendorsement endorsement phone call from governor Jerry Brown, fellow Democrat, for Nathan Fletcher. What was that about?
FILNER: I wish I knew. Maybe Carl can explain the psyche of the governor of California.
LUNA: I didn't try in the 70s, and I'm not trying today.
CAVANAUGH: What is your plan to win over those voters?
FILNER: Well, the plan is to talk common sense of the these are voters who I don't think are ideological. These are voters who aren't tied to one party or the other. And as they say, and Carl knows this, pot holes know no party. But if I have a plan for job, environmental quality, neighborhood revitalization, and shifting power to the neighborhoods, those aren't partisan issues. I'm going to try to bring these issues to the public without a label, Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal. These are common sense issues. And even in the pension situation where I did not favor proposition B, it passed, but I think there'll be so much litigation when I'm mayor I'll be able to do a lot of things to improve the situation. And I say to people, look, if you had a home mortgage for 8%, and you had a chance to refinance your loan for 4%, you'd be silly not to. And yet that's what the city can do now. The mayor has helped to create some stability. We have a bond rating. And yet I'm being charged with some -- I don't know, some liberal kind of spending and crazy thing. I'm only refinancing a debt at a lower interest rate because we have the lowest interest rates in the history of our country. Let's do the smart thing.
CAVANAUGH: The primary campaign is over. Do you take a break? When do you start to gear up for the general election in November?
FILNER: Well, we've already started gearing up. I've had two debates already with Mr. DeMaio. I'll probably take a few days off, then you have to get right back into it. We have about 150 days or something till the election. And I'd like Carl maybe to comment on this, I think there's going to be national attention focused on this race. This is a city which has been traditionally Republican, has not had a one -- one democratic mayor in 40 years. There's two different candidates who have very different visions of the way the city goes, the function of government in society, the way that our -- that people in our community relate to each other, and to the economic and political power of our city. I think people are going to look at this nationally, and especially since my own contacts where, let's say, the White House or the previous White Houses will be able to get people in here to campaign have a national kind of attention that I think mayor's race generally does not have.
CAVANAUGH: Let me have Carl Luna have the last word in this segment to respond to what Congressman Filner is saying. Do you think this is going to rise to the level of national coverage?
LUNA: Oh, I think it will. Already prop B's passage is being associated with Scott walker in Wisconsin. We're entering an age when the difference between national and local politics is disappears with so much money that is out there, sloshing about, and you're going to see money pouring into the mayor's race, into the 52nd congressional district, and San Diego is it a swing city, and both parties are going to try to make it swing their way.
CAVANAUGH: Congressman Filner, congratulations for last night. And coming up after the break Carl Luna will stay with us as we talk about what's next now that San Diego City propositions A and B have been approved by voters, and we'll talk to the winners in the 52nd congressional race.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Our roundup of primary election results continues, and my guest for the hour is Carl Luna. San Diego City voters approved propositions A and B, two measures local unions worked hard to defeat. Joining us to talk about the fallout of these measures are my guests, San Diego City attorney, Jan Goldsmith. Welcome. Thank you for coming in.
GOLDSMITH: Pleasure to be with you.
CAVANAUGH: Michael Zuchett is here, with the municipal employees' association. Welcome.
ZUCHETT: Thanks for having us.
CAVANAUGH: Now, prop B, which ends guaranteed benefit pensions for most new hires won by about a 60-30 margin. Michael, what is it about your message that you think did not resonate with San Diego voters?
ZUCHETT: Well, I don't think there was anything too surprising about the results. We have an extreme antipension environment, we had a low turnout election, we had the proponents willing to say anything about it, including stretching the truth quite a bit. And we had corporate interests outspending us 8-one, developers, hotelier, Walmart. So I think that was a pretty tough environment. Of I think the outcome was expected. I do think the only interesting thing is that while voters 2-1 supported the proposition, they rejected Carl DeMaio, effectively, 70% of the voters did anyway, even though he was the main proponent of the initiative. I think there's something in that juxtaposition to be interesting.
CAVANAUGH: But to be fair, he was the top vote getter.
ZUCHETT: Sure, but those were the same voters who were voting for the proposition. It's just interesting, why would a voter support the proposition that Carl claims ownership of but reject Carl? It's not the only thing that matter, but it was an interesting fact I think in the day.
CAVANAUGH: So what happens now? Jan Goldsmith, when do new hires in the City of San Diego stop getting guaranteed pensions from the city.
GOLDSMITH: Under proposition B, when the proposition takeses effect, which is when the secretary of state certifies the results and they're returned to the local level for acceptance. But from our standpoint, we received the message from the voters, and the message was that we want pension reform. And regardless of what the campaign was all about, we do know what the will of the voters is. However, the voters I believe did not say we want to punish public employees. I run a law firm that has 320 employs, 140 lawyers, virtually all of them are members of different labor unions. I don't want to lose good people. I don't want to punish them. That's not what the voters said. Of I want to be able to retain and attract good, new employees. So we have to figure out a way to implement the will of the people, but we also have to be fair to employees, and we have to be able to compete with the private sector for good employees. My department, the city attorney's office, is only one department. It's the same issue in all of them. I'm going to send a message to the employees that we're going to try. And we hope that we have the labor unions on board to come up with some different options to accomplish it.
CAVANAUGH: Now, let me just ask you again, if I may though, when does this take effect?
GOLDSMITH: Prop B takes effect when the secretary of state certifies the results.
GOLDSMITH: Some time between the middle of July to early August.
GOLDSMITH: So technically, the secretary of state has 28 days, then it comes back down and has to go to the City Council. There are different time limits within prop B as to what things have been to be done. We'll have an implementation plan, and wee going to be discussing it later this week. A part of that is working with our labor unions. And in 2006, the voters corrected the city to engage in managed competition. And it took four years to implement that. When I took office by early 2009, it had been mired in litigation, and eventually we got it moving. And actually it's been pretty successful. And our employees have won, I think all the bids.
CAVANAUGH: Speaking of litigation, I do want to ask Michael, does the union plan legal action on prop B?
ZUCHETT: Well, there's legal action already pending have been. But I think a step that the city skipped in his analysis of what's next, and rhetoric about listening to what the people said, in the initiative that passed yesterday, if we're going to listen to the people, we can't cherry pick which parts we like what they said and not like, there's no less than a dozen researchers in the initiative making sure that what's in there complies with the law. Everything in there is quote subject to legal requirement, subject to meet and confer, subject to compliance with the IRS codes, subject to the legally established rights of employees. Soy those determinations need to be made. I'm not aware that the city has already made those determinations. Presumably those would be made in good faith through the negotiation process with the unions, and going to be required in this 89
CAVANAUGH: Is that what you're talking about, Mr. Goldsmith, when it comes to, you know, going through this and implementing it and making these legal decisions as to whether or not this complies?
GOLDSMITH: There is language in proposition B subject to legal requirements, and we intend to obey that, obviously. This is requirements to meet and confer on implementation, and we intend to comply with that. But we're -- it also requires that certain things be done to implement it, otherwise you don't get the savings that at least the proponents argue were going to be there. Of it's somewhat of a balancing, but yes, we will comply with the law, and we will analyze it before we take a step, we'll analysis each step to make sure that it complies with the law
ZUCHETT: Just to answer your question, is there going to be more litigation, in that is right, that's up to the city and its interpretation, what it thinks can be implemented legally, how it intends to implement the rest, and we'll decide whether further action is necessary or not. But basically this initiative invites the Courts to weigh in before it's implemented, and if we need to go there, we'll certainly go there.
GOLDSMITH: There's already 5†cases pending. Our office has been careful in pension matters. We understand what a vested right is, and we've been careful from the very outset. We've won pension litigation because we haven't overstepped that boundary. Proposition B however is being placed in our charter, which is our city's constitution. The Court of Appeal just came down, I think two weeks ago, with a written decision basically saying the City of San Diego must obey the terms of its city charter. It is the city's constitution. So yes, it's going to be a little tricky, but proposition B does not envision litigation temperature envisions being able to implement it in a legal manner complying with state and federal law.
LUNA: My big question at this point is how much of prop B can really make it into reality until after the November election, and based on its outcome, you have a divided council and mayor, how problematic its implementation becomes.
GOLDSMITH: Well, I will say that the provision having to do with pensionable pay freeze is not envisioned until the next go-around of negotiations, that would culminate hopefully in MOUs with our labor unions July of 2013. But there's time on that, and that is very, very quick tricky to implement. And frankly, prop B just gives instructions to our negotiator. It doesn't say it must be implemented. With a 2/3 vote of the City Council, they can overall that. But pensionable pay restriction would allow for alternative forms of compensation. You could have performance based bonuses to calculate your pension, that would be able to put money in our employees' pockets. Something like that is going to take a long time to put together.
CAVANAUGH: With the loss in Wisconsin last night in the recall election of antiunion governor Scott walker, it was a bad night for labor. You lost on A and B here, what are you planning to do to try to change that trend?
ZUCHETT: I think we're going to go in the corner and curl up and cry for a while.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ZUCHETT: No, I think trying to draw national implications to this or Wisconsin or anything else I think goes too far. Obviously there's sort of an antipublic employee, antipension politics in the air in the country. But every city is very different and very fact-specific. For instance, San Diego, if you compare us to San Jose, our fiscal -- which had the other initiative that passed last night, it's just apples and oranges. And I think that's going to play into when a court reviews this what happens, because our factual basis here is very different than it is in other places. And I think ultimately this initiative is going to fall because of its legal failings.
CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to thank you both very much. Thank you for coming in after a very long night, again.
GOLDSMITH: It's a pleasure.
ZUCHETT: Thank you.
CAVANAUGH: And Carl, we are expecting a phone call from the winner of the 52nd congressional race, Brian Bilbray got the most votes there. He won 41% of the volt. But he's an incumbent. Is that actually good news for Brian?
LUNA: Not particularly. Because the anti-Bilbray vote, the solid more democratic vote was about as much as what he got. This is in a lower turnout election. Come November, he's going to have a harder time turning out that majority of the vote than he had in his old district to be sure.
CAVANAUGH: We have joining us right now the person who we believe came in second in the 52nd congressional district race, Scott Peters. Welcome, thank you for coming in.
PETERS: Thanks for having me.
CAVANAUGH: One of the things that I let Deborah Silar get away without asking here, the fact that this is a squeaker between you and Lori SaldaÒa. Has this been confirmed that you are the second runner up, so to speak in this race?
PETERS: Well, I read that in the KPBS report, so --
[ LAUGHTER ]
PETERS: No, technically there are still some provisional ballots to be counted but I've never had an easy one. So I've been through this before. And we'll wait to see till everything is voted. But we feel good about where we are.
CAVANAUGH: So you have not necessarily declared yourself the Victor in this race?
PETERS: No, I think we're proceeding on that assumption though.
CAVANAUGH: It was I think surprising to some people that this was so close between you and Lori SaldaÒa. Of I'm wondering, do you think that your hard-fought campaign with SaldaÒa is going to hurt your chances in November?
PETERS: No, actually I think to give Lori credit, she ran a tough campaign. And there was a lot about it we didn't like, but she made us much tougher for November and gave us a preview of the kind of thing we can expect from the incumbent. I think it'll be stronger. When this is all settled out, I think we'll be talking to Democrats to remind them that the real goal is to defeat the incumbent, and I think they'll be on the team.
CAVANAUGH: You recently let your campaign more than a million dollars out of your own funds. How much are you willing to spend on this race?
PETERS: We've said all along that we want to bring the resources that are necessary to take out this entrenched incumbent. Brian has been there for 12 years. I don't like investing my own money, but we found in the face of an incumbent, and when there's two Democrats in a primary, that's something we had to do. Upon I raised the most money except for Brian in this race. And I had to add a little bit too. But the money just buys you advertising. We ran a race based on my record they built at the city and the port, and the endorsements that I had from CityBeat to the UT, and a number of elected officials.
LUNA: I thought it was interesting that Mr. Peters, you had a very big TV buy. Lori SaldaÒa did the ground game. What do you think it's going to be like in November when a massive amount of national money comes pouring into this campaign? Is it going to change the way you campaign?
PETERS: This will be a little more straightforward. This primary system is new, and I was getting shot at from all eyes.
LUNA: You were the Nathan Fletcher of the race.
PETERS: I guess. He probably had the same experience. But Brian was mailing to Democrats telling them to vote for SaldaÒa, it was pretty clear he wanted to face her. And she had got some national money from out of town from this progressive group to attack me, I didn't agree with the attack, but they did. And that had a big effect. The race in November is much more straightforward. You have an incumbent who's been there, part of a Congress that's not getting anything done. I'm a democratic, I bring a different perspective, but also an approach of working across the isle to get things done, and in this district, are it's those independents who are going to make that decision. I think they're less partisan than the primary electorate. And I think we've got a great shot.
CAVANAUGH: Which issues are you going to focus on for the general election?
PETERS: We have to talk about jobs and the economy. And this whole idea that we would fight again over the debt ceiling, it would be funny if it wasn't coming at such a tough time. Congress needs to get its act in order. We need to start working together to solve problems for the American people.
CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you very much, Scott Peters for coming in and speaking with us,
PETERS: Thanks for having me Maureen, good to see you Carl.
LUNA: Good to see you too.
CAVANAUGH: We move to the incumbent Congressman, Brian Bilbray on the line with us now. Congratulations.
BILBRAY: Great to be with you.
CAVANAUGH: We were just talking about you for a moment before you got on the line. You won 41% of the vote. Is that what you expected?
BILBRAY: Well, that's exactly what I expected. I it was funny sitting here listening kind of shocked with practically 1 in ten San Diegans unemployed that somebody running for office could say that a million dollars was a little extra just thrown in. I guess a lot of people function at different levels, but that concept of somebody referring to a million dollars upfront personal contribution as being just a little extra thrown in kind of was shocking for me.
CAVANAUGH: Before we had this top-two open primary in California, as an incumbent, you probably wouldn't have had to extend much effort or much expense in this primary election. How different has this primary been for you Congressman?
BILBRAY: It's really been kind of exciting that you have ten candidate, a brought perspective of a lot of different people jumping into what is basically an open seat. And I think it's what the system really needs. I think it's one reason why I like the idea of the open primary. It sort of shakes up the system. I think we'll see if it does anything in Sacramento. But I think that it's -- maybe the rest of the country will be looking at this. And I think you're going to see other states try to see how it works out. There is an interesting new kind of reality there. And anybody that tells you they knew what was going to happen in this election in my opinion either did not understand what they were saying or wasn't willing to tell the truth. Because I don't think anybody did. I think it was kind of a brave new world, and new turf, and I think it was exciting. But sadly, it's done in a backdrop where we've got massive unemployment, massive debt. I was kind of excited to see the initiatives. . The people of San Diego City really showed that they were willing to make those tough but fair decisions with the initiatives both A and B overwhelming passing. And I think that puts not only the new City Council and mayor on notice but I think it puts somebody like Mr. Peters who was actually engineered the retirement program that the voters just overwhelmingly overthrough.
LUNA: I've got a question for the Congressman. Unfortunately he's had the opportunity to have two districts redistricted almost out from under him. This is a different district than the district you were running in before. Does this mean you're going to have to reposition yourself toward a more moderate stance or an independent stance, put yourself in opposition perhaps to some of the agenda of the more conservative members of House of Representatives?
BILBRAY: Well, I think it's got to be a little tough in a range of 1-1 hundred when you're at 53 to get too much more in the center of the line. But that wasn't a conscience decision. It was just basically you vote the issues. And sometimes you get confronted with people that stand in the way. Right now, I'm battling both sides over issues like bringing a trillion dollars of American money back to create American jobs, and you've got the Republicans who do not want to give research and development and construction a priority, and you've got the Democrats that seem more worried about making sure they get every cent of taxes out of somebody that's never going to it pay taxes like Irwin Jacobs' foreign income. And both sides aren't doing what it takes that could bring back this money and help stimulate the economy without borrowing from China and stealing from our grandchildren. That's the thing the people of San Diego are looking if. I was born in this district, and I represent most of this area even as a nonpartisan. I think it's one of those opportunities to keep the base that -- what you learned when I was very young. Results matter, partisan bickering didn't.
CAVANAUGH: We've got to end it there. Congratulations on being the top vote getter
BILBRAY: Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Carl Luna, San Diego political expert, and Mesa†College political science professor continues as my guest as we wrap up and analyze yesterday's primary election results. Let's talk about the San Diego City Council races. The biggest surprise, I guess, is that incumbent Sherry Leitner did not get most of the votes in the primary.
LUNA: That's a problem for her. She should have been higher than she was. She was behind by about 4%. But in that district, that was only 800 votes. The question will be in the fall, can she pull together enough of her base to actually show up to vote? Because the Republicans got an even larger turnout when you looked at the two candidates in the race.
CAVANAUGH: You had district 7 being won handily by Scott Sherman. He won't even have to have a runoff in November.
LUNA: That was a surprise. This means the best either party can have in November would be a 5-4 majority on the City Council.
CAVANAUGH: That was going to be my question. So is that basically cinches it as far as you're concerned?
LUNA: It took a lot of the fun out of the November council races.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. All right. I want to move onto a hard-fought issue up in Oceanside, and Alison St. John, our reporter has been following that issue since the very beginning. Welcome to the program.
ST. JOHN: Hello, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Proposition E in Oceanside would have phased out rent control in the city's 17 mobile home parks. It was defeated 64-35%. What message does this send?
ST. JOHN: I guess it sent a pretty strong message that actually the voters in the city of Oceanside are not on board with the agenda of the City Council majority, which put both of these issues, mobile home park, and the charter change. They both went down. And I think people are quite surprised by how big a margin it was, considering that the owners of the mobile home parks put in at least five times as much money into mailing and campaigning than the mobile homeowners were able to raise.
CAVANAUGH: So much money is potentially at stake if rent control is eliminated. Do you think we'll see this issue popping up again?
ST. JOHN: Yes, apparently the mobile home park owners are saying this is not the end of the issue. But you've got a situation where they put it on the June ballot because they knew there might be more Republican voters, more conservative pro-property rights people voting, and it still didn't pass. Although you could say that Carl has been talking about the low turnout, perhaps the people who had most at stake here, the ones who were going to lose their property values, the mobile homeowners, were the ones that whipped up the most enthusiasm and won the day.
LUNA: I was wondering about Alison saw some comparison between prop B passing here and that proposition in Oceanside going down when they kind of represented different sides of the political spectrum. What does that say about the electorate in San Diego County?
ST. JOHN: Well, I guess it's sort of unpredictable that we do live --
CAVANAUGH: You're right.
ST. JOHN: What's true in one city doesn't hold true in another.
CAVANAUGH: We'll have to let you go, Alison, but thank you very much for speaking with us. And the two top vote getter, Steve Danon, and Dave Roberts. Welcome.
GOLDSMITH: Thank you.
BILBRAY: Thank you, good to be back.
CAVANAUGH: Steve, you came in slightly ahead of Dave Roberts. Do you think the Republican vote was split in this race?
GOLDSMITH: Absolutely. If you look at the total, and it is nonpartisan, but one candidate focused primarily on the Democrats, and the Republican vote, about 68%.
CAVANAUGH: What do you have to do to unite the Republicans behind you?
GOLDSMITH: I think it's the message of reform. The No.†1 priority is to promote a healthier business climate. We need to reform the department of planning and land usage. It shouldn't take 5-seven years for businesses to get their permits.
CAVANAUGH: Dave Ronert, you had the endorsement of the San Diego City firefighters, and Pam Slater price. How important do you think those endorses might have been?
BILBRAY: I think they were critical to our race. But I think overall, if you look at this, basically we're at a statistical dead heat. Steve was 900 votes ahead of me. And when we launched our campaign just five months ago, people said it just wasn't possible to win. Steve was going to win this outright with 51%. Well, we caught up quickly, less than 4.5 months. Steve has been running for 35 months. He outspent us. So we really feel great that this was a great victory for us, and we're looking forward now to the November election.
LUNA: When I look at the turnout, logic would say Republicans are going to have an advantage because of the vote now. But in November, it's going to be a different electorate. I was wondering how you two gentlemen think that's going to play out.
BILBRAY: I think you're right on. And November is the election we wanted to run in. But you have to look at my support. I have across the political spectrum support from the far left to the far right. And people really understood my message. They wanted real leadership, they wanted to focus on their quality of life, and they didn't want a page taken out of a political playbook. They're looking for somebody that can work across the political spectrum, in a bipartisan fashion.
GOLDSMITH: And what people really want is reform. We need to cut government spend, create a healthy business climate, and the fact that I had the endorsement of Jerry Sanders, the mayor of Escondido, Encinitas, and father Joe carol, and a lot of law enforcement is pretty significant. And we've built a great coalition. One of the candidates in the race put in more than $350,000 of his own, of which half of it was negative attack ads against myself. I really thought going into last night, that we were going to take a distant second. The fact that we emerged and won the primary says a lot.
CAVANAUGH: I want to just ask you, Dave Roberts, Steve has a point. If you count up his vote, and the votes that Carl Hilliard got, it looks like you as a Democrat had an uphill climb in the November election. How are you going to reach out to voters?
BILBRAY: I completely disagree with you.
CAVANAUGH: Okay! You're allowed!
BILBRAY: I think that in this race, a lot of the Carl Hilliard support was anti-Steve Danon. The reason we got into this race is Republicans asked me to run. They were not happy with their party candidate.
GOLDSMITH: It was Pam Slater price that asked you to run.
BILBRAY: They were looking for other folks, retired officials asked me and have endorsed me, plus a number of organizations. We have built a bipartisan coalition. We'll be running now in the presidential election race, and we feel really confident. And you have to look, if you look at history, everybody that's come in second place in a primary winnings outright in the general election. Of
CAVANAUGH: I'm going to stop you guys. Because this is the day after the primary, and you're still going hot and heavy against each other. Are you two going to take a break at all before the general election?
GOLDSMITH: No, as a matter of fact I asked Dave last night if he wanted to carpool
BILBRAY: And I've been up since 4:00 this morning retooling our campaign for the fall election.
CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you both for coming in.
GOLDSMITH: Thank you very much
BILBRAY: Thank you very much.
CAVANAUGH: Now, Carl, in the time we have left, let's talk about some of the surprises last night. There was an actual surprise for people who watch races in the 51st congressional district. Many had thought that two Democrats might face off in that election. But Denise Ducheny came in third after Juan Vargas, and Michael cremins. What did we not take into account in that new 51st congressional district is that got a Republican in second place there?
LUNA: Part is the very, very low voter turnout in that district, which played to Juan Vargas's street-level politics approach. Republicans, and there are Republicans in the 51st district, came out, and those who voted wanted to support an anti-Vargas candidate. And I was surprised that Ducheny with wall her experience wasn't able to close the deal a little bit more. But you're talking about in this difference, like 30 points. It was about a nine thousand vote difference, which is not that big. So it's an example of a turnout, but Vargas really did work his political magic on his realty sales. The
CAVANAUGH: I think you're going to talk to me about turnout again, when I talk about prop 29. We heard in the beginning in one of the headlines that people are saying maybe we can get prop 29 if we count all the mailin ballots, but it was defeated last night. What does that tell us?
LUNA: That's a turnout story. And it's a money story. The various interests against the cigarette tax, including the that back's industry, spent a booedel of money in California. While money doesn't necessarily win you the election, it certainly didn't hurt. And that can turn people against taxes when you have a low tax electorate coming out.
CAVANAUGH: I want to go back, if I can, to the San Diego City mayor's race. This is a thought that came to me. Nathan Fletcher made a big splash by saying that he wasn't a Republican anymore, he was now an independent. He wanted to see this purple party, you know, this red and blue mix to be a purple party independent voters get rid of politics as usual. It didn't work. And I'm wondering why you think it didn't work. If you ask people, they usually say they're tired of politics as usual.
LUNA: People say it, but then they elect the same people. They have their part son perspectives. A certain percentage of the population is going to vote Republican, a certain percentage is going to vote Democrat. And most individuals in voting are going to break to one party or the other. The real game needs to be who can get the vote out. Mr. Fletcher had a problem not having a lot of local San Diego roots. He wasn't well known south of Mira Mar road. And the King thing helped, but in the end of the day it wasn't enough to move him ahead. Becoming an independent almost doubled his support base, but it wasn't enough.
CAVANAUGH: What happens to his political career now?
LUNA: That's a question. They say there's no second acts in politics, but we have them all the time. He's reinvented himself in A as anned in, but in this upcoming election, there's no role for an independent. I would imagine he's going to go the public policy think tank route for a while and try to rebrand and build a movement. You're got to build some structure.
CAVANAUGH: And candidate Bonnie Dumanis has a rather soft landing if her position as district attorney.
LUNA: She remains city. And a year ago when people were asking me about the election, I thought it was hers. I'm still not exactly sure why she did not grab the voters as much as one would have thought. Good district attorney, didn't have what it took to be an elected political official.
CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you about something that you talked about on occasion while you were talking with the candidates. And that is one of the wildcards in the November election, the presidential race. What kind of an electorate do you expect that to turn out?
LUNA: It's going to be not as big as 2008. Sequels don't do as much in the box office. But it's going to be even more partisanly divided than in 2008. If you're looking 59 recent polls, we are the most divided we've been on a whole host of issues since the 1950s and '60s. Whichever candidate can get their base out, perhaps you can do it by going to the middle, the last three presidential elections have been getting out your partisans. I don't know if you can win in 2012 by getting out the middle. You get out all the negative ads which are likely to come out, a lot of people are going to go down in their tornado cellar and just ride it out.
CAVANAUGH: California is known as a democratic state. We went for Barack Obama last time around. Does that bode well for local democratic candidates in that the assumption being that more Democratsingly come out to vote for the president?
LUNA: The problem is people know California will go democratic. And as a result that may have a counter effect on the overall democratic vote. You can't depend on that alone. It's a question of how well you can get major national issues to resonate locally, the issues regarding labor, jobs, fiscal policy. And how that plays local. As Congressman PETERS said, all poet holes are local. They're. How you fill them though, that's very partisan.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much. You've given us so much of your time during this primary election, and I'm sure we'll be asking for more of it in November. Thank you so much.
LUNA: Thank you.