Alvarez, Faulconer Headed To Runoff In San Diego Mayor's Race
November 20, 2013 1:20 p.m.
Kevin Faulconer, San Diego mayoral candidate, City Councilman
David Alvarez, San Diego mayoral candidate, City Councilman
Michael Vu, San Diego County Registrar of Voters
Carl Luna, political science professor, San Diego Mesa College
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Our top story today, and the special election in the city of San Diego yesterday did not settle the question of who would be the next mayor. It did provide election watchers with what appears to be a upset for second place. Kevin Faulconer was the top of the vote with more than 40%. David Alvarez appears to be the upset here for second place. The vote count has Alvarez at 26% of the vote. Nathan Fletcher has 24%. A few minutes of guesswork to analyze the results, but first we will talk with the candidates who will move on to next year's runoff election. I would like to welcome Kevin Faulconer. Congratulations. Did you get the election results last night that you were expecting?
KEVIN FAULCONER: We did better than we thought. We're pushing very hard. You see some of the polls around out there, but to come in at 43% I think speaks volumes of the campaign that we put together and more importantly the message that I've been talking about in terms of continuous efforts at City Hall. I believe strongly in this and we spent a lot of time on that when I was on the City Council pursuing that. As mayor that's what led to do. I was humbled by the results and humbled I having such strong support.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Would like everyone to know that even though I said undecided, Nathan Fletcher has conceded the race and David Alvarez will be in the runoff. What is your reaction to that?
KEVIN FAULCONER: I think that David ran a strong race and Nathan ran a strong race. It was that we saw last night were pretty clear that David was going to ultimately finish in second place. We just spoke to each other outside of the hallway. I'm looking forward to the runoff another short cycle. Given night get along very well with each other and we have policy differences but we're looking for two good debate.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The Lincoln club that supported your candidacy's been a lot of money on native ads against Nathan Fletcher. This is that might've had some influence on voters took his David Alvarez the opponent that you wanted to run against?
KEVIN FAULCONER: We said from the beginning that we cannot come for control that destiny. That is what we did for the beginning. I was glad to see consumer support out there for a campaign. We worked very hard on it. We were not sure who was going to finish second or third year that is something that we can control but we had to which our message. They had to continue that tough work in City Hall.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You and David Alvarez sometimes were both attacking nation Fletcher. How you now going on campaigning against David?
KEVIN FAULCONER: We're going to have great debate. Dave and I have spent a lot of time make at City Hall and we've known each other for a number of years. We have our differences and we will talk about that but particularly, as we go into our short run off-season we will have upfront and honest debates with clear choices here I'm looking forward to it talking about the choices that I support. Fostering policies that grow our economy and small businesses. I'm looking forward to that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: With 43% of the vote is a strong sunshine but you'll have to pick up some votes in what is now a Democratic dominated San Diego. How are you going to do that?
KEVIN FAULCONER: Just what I've always done. If you look at races that I've run and City Council I am Republican and majority Democrat district. It's not about partisanship is about meeting on the principles that medical letter to San Diego. I am clad out of the work that I've done on the Council. It's not about Republican or Democrat it's about what is the best thing to move the city forward. I've been known that someone had who does that reaches across the record of the reasons we have such a strong showing last night is the people that have done me and know that what I'm talking about are issues that cut across the partisanship and the demographics. Let's get her city back on track and do the right thing. The more talk about that the more that people see my record of support.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One more question. Your financial backing is solidly Republican and leading up to this special election that was the idea that you were soft peddling your GOP credentials. Your campaign spokesman's person said that compared it Republicans back east your record the click of Democrat. Will you continue to do that? Make distance between you and the GOP?
KEVIN FAULCONER: I push on who I am. There is no Republican or Democratic way to fill potholes. We just need to provide services. That's what people want us to focus on. That is how I conducted myself since I've been on the city Council. You see partisan ways on a national level and that does not help things move forward. Make sure we're spending our dollars wisely where we need to. The mission make sense initiative is a good example. That is the style that I brought to the table and that is the brand of leadership that I will continue to bring forth as mayor and I think that is what city the needs and deserves right now.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You told reporters that you're ready to hit the ground running for the runoff campaign took to the candidates and the voters need a little down time?
KEVIN FAULCONER: That is probably so. We were talking outside its Thanksgiving actually can than Christmas and we are likely to have the runoff in February. There is not a lot of time. We will take a couple of hours off and then get right back to it.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Want to thank you for taking the time out today. I've been speaking with Kevin Faulkner.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now I would like to introduce David Alvarez, welcome to the show. Now that you lost your voice last night, so if you need to whisper that is fine. We will stay to hear you. The big news this hour is that nation pleasure has conceded his election and he has thrown his support to you. What is your reaction to that?
DAVID ALVAREZ: We know that Nathan ran a great campaign. He is a wonderful human being. His supporters are welcome as we come together to move our city forward. We will come together and I appreciate his support and his supporters. He'll have a lot of courageous supporters and that is good to have.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In the first polls if you look back two months ago you were behind Fletcher by about thirteen points. How do you think your campaign went beyond?
DAVID ALVAREZ: If you look at the very first polls I was twenty points behind. It's been a very grassroots campaign. I was in every single committee form and debate and I was all over the city. I think that made a difference. I was able to connect to people on a real level document core issues. Living our city forward to make sure that every community is part of the city and I think that the margin of victory puts me in the runoff be Is because how the people got to know me and how much time we spent a the door and spent with people on the phone and people who just got inspired by our story which is one of the keys is that we work hard.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It was noted in news reports that you joined with Kevin Faulconer to attack Fletcher and some of the debates. There a lot of negative ads against Fletcher coming from both your and Faulconer's campaigns. We you the candidate that Faulconer wanted to run against?
DAVID ALVAREZ: I never did any negative campaigning against Nathan. There are others doing other things outside of my control but my campaign was positive. Nathan got attacked as well as towards the end. That stuff happens in the campaign. Now we just move forward. It's sort of a link slate or get the end I'm going to be the underdog and that is clear. But it's a position that I've been in many times in my life. It's always been about a lot of hard work and dedication to the display of and I think that that is what will bring us over the top of the next election.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Again you seem to be the candidate that Faulkner wanted to run against. How do you react to that?
DAVID ALVAREZ: I guess he got what he wished for then. He will find out what a hard worker I am and I will be successful there is what I do not think that he should underestimate anybody in politics. I work hard to talk to people about issues that they care about and I think that is what is going to be reflecting the vote. I acknowledge it will be difficult. It will be difficult for anyone. Because of the level of support that one Republican ad.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: San Diegans will be asked to vote on the Barrio Logan plan. The maritime industry has a lot of signatures to rescind that plan. Do you see that being a big part of this campaign coming into the runoff?
DAVID ALVAREZ: That will be in June if he gets on the ballot will be asked to be part of the campaign but I think that when it will come down to is to will support neighborhoods. And who supports the community planning process. The very strong and wealthy special-interest group.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I will let you rest your voice ñ it hurts me to hear you talking. But you be changing the message of your campaign towards the runoff?
DAVID ALVAREZ: I think that what we'll do is continue to talk about issues that I care about which is our neighborhoods. That is a campaign that I ran and that is why the voters reflected the way they did. They want someone who will stand up for them who is going to work for all of us and not for the status quo in the city that is controlled the city for a long time. Things have changed in the city and downtown. We have so much work ahead of us. We have to protect our environment make sure we have water supply and work with our schools make sure that we have real transparency and accessibility. All things that I've stood for. I will continue talk on those issues and I think people will be very responsive to that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I asked Kevin Faulconer will you be taking time off before you start your campaign? For the runoff?
DAVID ALVAREZ: I will be taking their traditional holidays that everyone takes. Christmas holidays are very important in my family. I don't take extended vacations really. I can't really afford them. I will be taking time off with my family and to reflect on the great things that we have accomplished. There's so much work to be done still in the next couple of months.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is David Alvarez thank you for joining us.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. A lot of questions remain about the meeting of history's special election for San Diego Mayor. At election watchers on the results of a very tight race? How effective will grassroots get out the vote campaigns be on the runoff election and could the selection marked the change in voter different demographics? Like to introduce Michael Vu, welcome back to the program. What percentage of San Diego city voters actually did turn out for yesterday's special election?
MICHAEL VU: About 30% of the vote. W
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It was a little lower than what was predicted before the election. And he reasons that you think of that?
MICHAEL VU: Special elections are a little different from the general election year we had seen special elections. We also had a higher turnout of 32%. The increase beyond the 32%.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering that there is some talk that maybe a little bit of rain that we got the morning kept voters from the polls. You think that to be accurate? It was just a little sprinkle.
MICHAEL VU: I think there's a number of different factors that will either have people going or not going to polls. The weather could be one and it could be the overall interest in the election year but also was in a primary election. Generate the primary is for individuals coming out to vote in a general election runoff election.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Over second-place between Alvarez and Fletcher. Fletcher has conceded the election is now supporting Alvarez. A lot of people wonder how can we have an election with the final vote count only separated by 2500 votes. There's still 34,000 ballots to count, it seems that the election results ñ we know what the results are. How can we know who has won?
MICHAEL VU: Ultimately I think that individuals are extrapolating those figures out. It depends on how many bugs can actually go to Fletcher and how many can go to Alvarez. We're counting all of the ballots. We will ultimately see.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Basically other people are doing his calculations based on where the outstanding talents have come from. But you at the registers office only count them.
MICHAEL VU: That's right people predict the numbers for us but we provide the actual numbers. It will take some time to process all of these ballots. Ultimately we will see. Where at the state that we will process the ballots and provided update this Thursday and there will be a smaller number and by Friday will have larger number of the 34,500 and by Monday will have most of the ballots.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When will the vote be certified? To have projected date on that?
MICHAEL VU: I do not have it projected date but we have to be finished by December 17 by law. We have to reconcile everything within twenty-eight days by law. We have to do that across all of the voting precincts. And the whole period of time we have to do what is known as a 1% manual tally will be have to take 1% of the precincts admittedly tally them and compared against the system tally make sure that everything is accurate. As we mentioned before we have to take in consideration the outstanding balance.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When the boat is certified as that have a relationship but with the runoff will be held?
MICHAEL VU: It could. Will be canvassing the election and providing although those documents to the city and it will be up for City Council that call the runoff election. If necessary. For me I anticipate that it will occur in early February.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you once again. I turn now to my next guest Carl Luna. We'll come back to the program. Do vote watchers call elections? How do they call this with so many ballots waiting to be counted.
CARL LUNA: It's seldom after the hundred percent mark your I remember in the last presidential there are 100,000 more ballots remain be called out. Once you get a statistical pattern and usually taken for
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We heard that Nathan Fletcher has conceded the election. The runoff will be between Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez. Both Faulconer and Alvarez whether or not they are willing to embrace it went out after Fletcher this campaign it seems to of worked with direction that.
CARL LUNA: This was that not nation Fletcher campaign. Use all the flyers and so that used to conservative for Democrats. And democratic way leaders were saying here is too liberal. Basically everybody piled on and the city is going to run a positive campaign the left and the odd man out. He lost the advantage of the runoff and this is what the Democratic Party is gambling on. That David Alvarez can convert the victory.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Was taken Fletcher particularly vulnerable to a toxic this?
CARL LUNA: Is vulnerable to it and he did not defend himself adequately against it. I don't think his advertisements were his work directly embracing the issue to do not want to draw attention to your weaknesses. Or be hammered on it by all sides. At some point you need to be a little bit more aggressive and say that this is what happened and I was a Republican and I found my home in the Democratic Party. I think that his own campaign there shared responsibility for not being a message.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What other mistake to think was were made?
CARL LUNA: Last week Nathan Fletcher's campaign still had money other hand. Either they decided they can't win or that they can't are they got enough momentum to carry over. I don't know if they spent that. That was the case at the terrible case of counting your chickens before you vote.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Moving on to the two men who will be in the runoff Kevin Faulconer got 43% in the special election vote yesterday. It was close but not close enough. Where you think you can pick up votes for the runoff?
CARL LUNA: Right now Fletcher has but 14% of Republican sporting him Faulconer should pick up at least five or six or 7% of that. About half of the independents may go to Faulconer well. All Faulconer wants to do is keep his Republican base turnout. At 6 to 7 points it is long for David Alvarez.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How do you think Alvarez managed a second place finish?
CARL LUNA: Is not an overwhelming victory. It's neck and neck of the against Fletcher and he had Democrats split the vote. He is a guide for Democrats to these the Mayor's race but still win because the city has become more democratic. If they can get the moderate votes to go to Alvarez, which means he needs to move towards the center, maybe they can pull it off but favored dollar ascetic great Game. It turned out the Democratic votes in all of the attacks on Nathan Fletcher.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're talking about yesterday's special election for setting the Mayor. And the mayoral runoff. I heard that the runoff I heard that the turnout was predicted to be at a 45% range. When it comes down to is only about 30% of the voters in San Diego without and voted for mayor. What does that tell you about this race?
CARL LUNA: Voters have voter fatigue get distracted by shiny objects. A lot of people cannot wrap their head around the fact that they have to vote at this point of the year this is why you hold elections prior to Veterans Day. That and the candidates don't seem scintillating to voters. They are running off that ìI'm not Bob Filnerî motto. The most remarkable thing was plummeting Nathan Fletcher's approval.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There seems to be a tendency to have so many debates that you can pack into a week. The thing that we're going to be seen that again as we get closer to this runoff election? And used see that there going to be any other kinds of differences that we will see in this campaign that perhaps are not like things that we saw in the leadoff to the special election?
CARL LUNA: I would imagine that you will see the same ratio and the numerous debate. I do not think it would hurt them or benefit them anymore unless to do that. Debates become so frequent. The only way that they change the game is that somebody screws up. Mike got 4% of the votes so go figure.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How will that factor in the runoff election?
CARL LUNA: You can't buy me love. In the end dollars will not bend the votes. All of the money spent by Republicans broke Kevin Faulconer against Fletcher will now be directed at him. It's going to be in the millions of dollars. The national and state and local party running against Navy Mayor's office but Democrats want to show that San Diego ñ there's going to be a lot of money.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The Barrio Logan community plan one of the issues that David Alvarez has been touting ñ we did this we change the community plan and listen to the people, that is going to be in the 2014 ballot. Today that the Maritime industry has collected enough city signatures to get it on the battle. How important do you think that issue is going to be in the runoff election?
CARL LUNA: The voters of San Diego still do not know much about David Alvarez. Got to the 5% of the vote within his own party. The one thing that is introduced with the are looking proud that could be problematic for him while it might get him some support that is a low propensity of voters. Meanwhile the maritime industry chamber of commerce are getting so me add that they're going to run about David Alvarez is a job killer.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we had a bad connection there, you said job killer? Attacking David Alvarez about that?
CARL LUNA: The Barrio Logan plan, the argument is that this will cost jobs and in the bag that economy jobs are very important to everyone. Some yes he can hang his hat on and there is not a whole lot in his repertoire that you can support.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How about the possibility of having the first Latino mayor in San Diego? What affect you think will that have on this race?
CARL LUNA: If he went it's a big change. If he does not win the city has not changed a lot. There are probably some elements of the election that would be uncomfortable with the Latino mayor. This may be a push on the heritage issue, I think of the more important in terms of the jobs issue in the communities issue and integrity issue.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Meanwhile I want to change your focus a little bit. As the Mayor's race goes on we have an interim Mayor Todd Gloria who is moving forward with a big agenda at City Hall. We have five year plan for the police department and the writer rate hike on poor commissioners appointed in infrastructure repair. What do you expect with that?
CARL LUNA: Todd Gloria has been a pleasant surprise to everyone in terms of his mentor and management's file. But he has really stepped into the breach and cleared off a huge impasse. The candidate who wins Todd has already done some work.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you so much for talking with us. I have to tell our listeners that we're getting an alert and we have to leave the building. We will play some recorded music for you and return to the building shortly.