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Alvarez, Faulconer Headed To Runoff In San Diego Mayor’s Race

Fletcher Concedes Race And Backs Alvarez

Evening Edition

Aired 11/20/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


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


The top vote-getter in the San Diego mayoral primary was Kevin Faulconer. But he didn't get enough to win outright, and his opponent in the coming general election will be fellow City Councilman David Alvarez.

Aired 11/20/13 on KPBS News.

City Councilman David Alvarez edged past fellow Democrat Nathan Fletcher and is expected to earn a spot in a February run-off for mayor against his colleague, Republican Kevin Faulconer.

In a surprise late-campaign sprint, Alvarez, a Democrat, passed former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher as late returns came in. The race for second remained too close to call given the tens of thousands of uncounted provisional and mail-in ballots still in play Tuesday night, but Fletcher conceded the race Wednesday afternoon and endorsed Alvarez.

With 100 percent of the precincts counted, Faulconer led with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Alvarez with 26 percent to Fletcher's 24 percent. Fletcher, a recent convert to the Democratic party, led early from the count of mail-in ballots. But that lead evaporated as votes from Election Day were tallied, and Alvarez ultimately pulled ahead.

"The next campaign starts tonight," Alvarez told cheering supporters at an election-night party in Logan Heights. "We are moving this city forward in a way that represents all of us."

Faulconer, meanwhile, celebrated his win with supporters in a traditional election-night venue at the downtown U.S. Grant Hotel. A crowd of supporters, mostly in business attire, drank wine and beer and ate appetizers while celebrating the win in the large Palm Court room.

"It was about bringing together this city," Faulconer told supporters as he reflected on the campaign. "And I believed in my heart, strongly then, as I believe now, that what this city needs is not just the experience that I bring to this office, but the ability to bring people together. It's not about partisanship, it's about leading on principles and doing what's right for the city of San Diego."

The mood at Nathan Fletcher's Mission Valley headquarters was subdued. The crowd turned silent as his lead over Alvarez disappeared. Fletcher spoke only briefly and did not make a concession speech before the room emptied.

The other prominent Democrat in the race, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre who raised little in the way of campaign funds, garnered less than 5 percent of the vote.

Former Mayor Bob Filner resigned over sexual harassment claims in mid-August, and a field of candidates quickly lined up to replace him. Kevin Faulconer enjoyed the advantage of being the only prominent Republican in the race.

"With the Democratic vote split, but the Republicans unified behind him, Mr. Faulconer knew that if he could start lining up moderates early, that will build his base for the run-off," Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna said.

But Brian Adams, a professor of political science at San Diego State University, said on KPBS-TV that Faulconer needs a big lead going into the runoff to emerge as the victor.

Photo Gallery: Special Mayoral Election

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Nathan Fletcher's election night party.

"The problem for Faulconer is he's a Republican in a predominantly Democratic city," Adams said. "And he's going to have to overcome that in the general election.

Faulconer raised and spent slightly less money than his opponents Nathan Fletcher and David Alvarez in the primary, which Luna said was also tactical. By holding off asking for money until the run-off election, Faulconer can raise more from his supporters while Democratic donors may already be taxed, Luna said.

Much of the money, raised in the primary, was spent on attack ads aimed at Nathan Fletcher. The former assemblyman, a Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat, was the first to state his intention to run. A Marine combat veteran, he enjoyed wide name recognition, thanks to his run last year for the San Diego mayor's office. Fletcher finished third as well in the June 2012 primary behind Democrat Bob Filner and Republican Carl DeMaio.

But strong opposition from labor groups, and from conservative organizations like the Lincoln Club, slowly whittled away at Fletcher's favorable polling numbers. He was squeezed by negative ads from both the political left and right.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters said late last night there remain as many as 34,500 uncounted provisional and mail-in ballots. But with 100 percent of precincts reporting, a dramatic turnaround for Fletcher is unlikely.

The story of yesterday's election was the emergence of Alvarez as the likely Democratic standard bearer.

A native of San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood, Alvarez is a newcomer to electoral politics, having served less than one term on the City Council.

But support from the San Diego and Imperial Valley Labor Council put money in his purse and volunteers at his disposal. He stressed the message of helping neighborhoods rather than downtown commercial projects.

“This will be a city that is about everyone of our neighborhoods," he told supporters last night. "We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. I don’t want to say we are gonna take back our city, because we’ve never actually captured our city, but with my election we will capture our city.”

Evening Edition

Kevin Faulconer’s biggest donations came from the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce PAC, the Building Industry Association of San Diego County PAC, the San Diego Restaurant & Beverage PAC and the San Diego Hotel-Motel Association Issue Advocacy PAC.

Faulconer has the backing of developer and conservative UT-San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester while Alvarez has Donna Frye in his corner, the former city councilwoman and popular Democrat who was so instrumental in exposing sexual-harassment complaints and helping to defrock Bob Filner.

As Faulconer gears up for round two, it seems likely the committees supporting him will continue to spend. While the run-off election won't be scheduled until Tuesday's voting results are certified, Faulconer is already making plans.

"I'm looking forward to the next phase, and I'm very determined to keep talking about what we've been talking about, because it's the right course for San Diego," he said, continuing a theme of down-playing party affiliation in the technically non-partisan race.

"It's not about being a Republican or a Democrat, it's about, let's put San Diegans' interests first, let's make those tough decisions that we've started to make so we have the dollars necessary to reinvest in our neighborhoods."

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Avatar for user 'mySDvoice'

mySDvoice | November 20, 2013 at 6:37 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

It is good that David Alvarez is excited about maybe finishing second in this election, because he is bound to finish second again in a run-off election. It is really a sad day for us democrats...

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 20, 2013 at 6:50 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

MySDvoice, what are you talking about?

Alvarez was a strong candidate, raising lots of money and beating out someone with strong name recognition (Fletcher).

He can easily beat Faulconer.

San Diego is a Democratic city, with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 13%.

The fact that only one prominent Republican was running and 3 prominent Democrats were running and Falconer STILL couldn't muster 50% of the vote shows he is weak and doesn't have the Demographics he needs to win.

Mr. Alvarez, congratulations, you WILL be our next mayor!!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 20, 2013 at 6:56 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

By the way, I voted for Aguirre and now I'm voting for Alvarez in January.

I would imagine nearly all of the ~4% who voted Aguirre will support Alvarez.

As far as those who voted Fletcher, some may go to Faulconer but the majority of those will likely also translate to Alvarez supporters, especially if Mr. Fletcher gracefully exits and endorses Alvarez, which I hope he will since he claims he is serious about being a Democrat now.

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Avatar for user 'ericdamian'

ericdamian | November 20, 2013 at 7:28 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Congrats to the Democrat grass roots who primarily saw Fletcher for the fraud he was and is. While I believe (and hope) David will be defeated in a special election with even lower turnout than this one he is a decent guy and you know where he stands. He has a bright future.

Now on to victory! Go Faulconer!

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Avatar for user 'igwilliamson'

igwilliamson | November 20, 2013 at 8:12 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Twice in this hour's broadcast you refer to Faulconer getting a MAJORITY of the votes cast. That is wrong. If he had obtained a majority, he would be the mayor and not headed to a run-off. He got a plurality. I expect better reporting on basic math and statistics from KPBS. Send your reporters (and their editors) back to math class please.

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Avatar for user 'progressivebuthey'

progressivebuthey | November 20, 2013 at 8:42 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Alvarez -- parents and 5 siblings illegal --- you really think he's not going to be an advocate of Latino causes, only, regardless of the rule of law? Non-Latinos think progressively to support Latinos who are cooking, cleaning and gardening. Undocumented Latinos currently work in white collar jobs, including profession requiring licensing, which means your job is at risk or your child will be competing for jobs and college entrance with undocumented persons. Sorry, but the truth.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | November 20, 2013 at 9:05 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago


I'm sure the Faulconer campaign will be calling you any minute now before another campaign scoops you up. Anti-Latino rhetoric is sooooo original. And, Latinos definitely don't want anyone who is going to advocate for their causes. Your time is now! Quit your job and start helping candidates win elections.

The row over the Barrio Logan redevelopment project is going to be big. It might be the issue than mobilizes San Diegans of Mexican descent. It'll be interesting to hear Faulconer explain to those residents how they're second-class citizens who don't deserve a nicer neighborhood.

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Avatar for user 'mySDvoice'

mySDvoice | November 20, 2013 at 9:16 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Let's stay factual - Alvarez raised about $275K from individual donors and unions/independent committees invested about $1.5M.
Fletcher raised $916K from individual donors and independent committees invested about $878K.
Alvarez support might seem large, but it is a smaller portion of overall voting pool - but with deep pockets. His dependency on union money will turn off many voters.
From a party affiliation standpoint, the Democratic Party is about 40% of the electorate, followed by about 28% that decline to state, and 27% Republican, leaving 5% for other parties. Remember - these are just registration numbers, not who actually shows up to vote.
We better hope that the Democrats show up for the run-off election

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 20, 2013 at 9:55 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

REGRESSIVE BEAUTY, do you have proof of this? Yes, then run out and call the CBP hotline. Then you can get back to your Glenn Speckkk on AM Hate Radio.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 20, 2013 at 10:35 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I had hoped that Faulconer would win the majority and we could avoid a runoff, but there is still some hope for him given that voters are left with Alvarez as their alternative. I think it would have been equally good for republicans had "flip flop" Fletcher made it to the runoff instead of Alvarez. Given how left leaning our beautiful (except for the roads) city is, Republicans are in a pretty good position now for the runoff, better than I had realistically expected.
mySDvoice, I agree with you that many voters will be turned off by Alvarez' dependence on union money, and those who aren't, should be. Personally, the primary reason I was immediately repelled by Alvarez was his union support - whoever the unions like, I know I want nothing to do with.
Peking_Duck_SD: "Mr. Alvarez, congratulations, you WILL be our next mayor!!" - If you are wrong you can count on me to come back and say "I told you so", so don't get all fussy if/when that happens :-)

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Avatar for user 'rebecca95'

rebecca95 | November 20, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Broadcasters & media need to ask Faulconer why he voted twice to eliminate marine trades jobs in the Shelter Island basin. He voted to permanently change the land use designation of marine industrial land to commercial/residential, so that 47 condos can be built. This made 8 businesses, that are dependent upon being adjacent to boat yards, have to move or go out of business. Faulconer is working with developers to make the marine trades have to move to South Bay, so that more hotels and shops can take over the area. Anyone who knows this area, understands how successful and viable the marine industry is on Shelter Island. Faulconer has his hands in developers' pockets. He is another slimy SD politician.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | November 20, 2013 at 2:19 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Let's go Faulconer!!! We need a good mayor like you!

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 20, 2013 at 2:21 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

rebecca95, unfortunately, we still have to try our best to determine who is the least bad and choose one. I wish there was a candidate I could wholeheartedly endorse. I would choose the one who is in bed with business/developers over the one who is in bed with unions - I believe in good business, but I don't believe in unions, whether they are good or bad. With regard to broadcasters and media, they seem to always omit key little facts depending on which way the particular network leans. We must do homework.

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Avatar for user 'Roberto Rolando Salinas'

Roberto Rolando Salinas | November 20, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Congratulations David Alvarez! It appears that you defeated Nathan Fletcher, and those Democrats that supported him. Among his big name supporters and political heavy weights like Gov. Brown, and Atty. Gen. Pamela Harris. Locally, political light weights like Lorena Gonzalez, "La Vendida", and professional lobbyist, Juan Vasquez, "El Vendido", along with the Hueso's, Rachel Ortiz, and Gus Chavez, who supported the anti-worker, anti-teacher, Fletcher. Yes, you took a very positive step towards making irrelevance, irrelevant. It is incredible that Faulconer is attempting to sell himself as a champion of guarding the public's interest when he supports poisoning those that live in Barrio Logan, and believes those residents have no rights to control their environment and neighborhoods. Faulconer is just another Republican corporate lobbyist that supports private interest over public interest. You can't trust Republicans with the taxpayers money. Alvarez supports a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Mr. Alvarez, "Power To The People."

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 20, 2013 at 3:29 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Roberto Rolando Salinas, whoa buddy, ay caramba, you sound a little paranoid that republicans, or maybe any non-Mexican politician is out to get Mexicans. I think when republicans support private industry, they are making a powerful statement that they support individual initiative over taking money from the hardworking, successful people and giving to the self-entitled, less hard working people in the form of handouts. When you write "Alvarez supports a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Mr. Alvarez, 'Power To The People'", do you really mean "Power to La Raza" or "Power to the unions"? That is not a great chant of individualism and self reliance. I think what people like Alvarez really support is a people of the government, for the government, and by the government. Typical sentiment in this uneducated, socialistic, Obama era, but quite backwards from what made America the greatest country in the world (although that title may be soon to expire).

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Avatar for user 'Roberto Rolando Salinas'

Roberto Rolando Salinas | November 20, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Alex_Grebenshchikov, your retort would be more credible if it were not for the fact that Republicans love socialism for the rich and the rest of you, pull yourself up from your boot straps, if you can afford boots. You are employing an old Republican political strategy of using race as a wedge issue, and using the self reliance argument as if that had any truth with economic facts. Labor unions were the great salvation that established the once middle class of the United States. It was destroyed by radical Republican ideologues, and policies, like Ronald Reagan's that have continually destroyed a once thriving middle class. Your perceived assumption that you can read my mind, and twist my words to fit your misguided racial analysis is most disappointing, equating self reliance with the uneducated, race, socialism, and of course the Obama era. As the founders of this country once proclaimed for the world to hear, "Power to the People!"

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 21, 2013 at 8:07 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Roberto Rolando Salinas, Unions served an important purpose in the past, but why do we need them now?

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Avatar for user 'lmross'

lmross | November 21, 2013 at 12:23 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Regardless of what happens in the upcoming election, i congratulate David Alvarez on the results. He showed up (in windbreaker and jeans) to speak to a group of senior citizens on their concerns, the day before the election, and before losing his voice. His is the face of the future: bright, young, personable, maybe not a lot of experience but intellectually curious and eager to learn. It's been said somewhere that 2040 marks the date when the minority becomes the majority. I think the David Alvarezes of now and the future can lead the way to whatever positive things that date will hold for our world.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 21, 2013 at 2:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Imross, and then in that glorious year, when the majority (I assume you mean whites) becomes the minority, the new white minority should have every right to kick and scream for "equality" and fair treatment, and the white cause should be looked at as very noble since they will be the pitied underdog with no fair chance at making it. Maybe whites will even get some sort of affirmative action preferential treatment. Is that what whites should expect? Or perhaps, to really fix the majority vs minority mindset, race shouldn't be considered at all. Otherwise, we as a society will be trapped in an endless oscillation between who is, at any given time, considered a down-trodden minority. I suppose it's easier to blame-shift and attribute problems to racial oppression instead of lack of concern for education and lack of initiative and personal responsibility, which one can only blame themselves for.

Don't get me wrong though, I appreciate humility, and if Alvarez showing up in windbreaker and jeans was genuine and not staged to make himself appeal to the working man (like when Obama says, "uh" several times during a speech, violating the first no no of speech class 101), then I like that about him.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | November 21, 2013 at 2:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Alex, it's not just about numbers, wealth an influence play a part in it as well.

The vast majority of wealth and power in this country lies with White Americans, disproportionate to our numbers.

If and when Whites not only become a minority in numbers but also in wealth and power, then I will agree we deserve the same programs and rights given to present-day minorities in this country.

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Avatar for user 'Alex_Grebenshchikov'

Alex_Grebenshchikov | November 21, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Peking_Duck_SD, you may be on to something here. So the Asian community, for example, is not really a minority, correct? In 2005 (before the economy tanked), median Asian household wealth was greater than the median for white households, yet they account for about 5% of the U.S. population. How was the Asian community able to financially outperform whites, while other minorities were not? Well, having grown up around a lot of minorities myself, the answer is obvious - the Asian culture tends to push education, hard work and self reliance. This is the general mindset in most Asian families, and kids are simply more disciplined than average from a very early age. My Asian friends were generally not out partying; they were trying to get straight A's and plan for college. I can't blame one racial group in America for the lack of wealth or power of another racial group, I can only blame the individual who feels like a victim and refuses to acknowledge their own culpability. Thomas Sowell made this point when he wrote,
"The very word "achievement" has been replaced by the word "privilege" in many writings of our times. Individuals or groups that have achieved more than others are called "privileged" individuals or groups, who are to be resented rather than emulated.
The length to which this kind of thinking — or lack of thinking — can be carried was shown in a report on various ethnic groups in Toronto. It said that people of Japanese ancestry in that city were the most "privileged" group there, because they had the highest average income.
What made this claim of "privilege" grotesque was a history of anti-Japanese discrimination in Canada, climaxed by people of Japanese ancestry being interned during World War II longer than Japanese Americans.
If the concept of achievement threatens the prevailing ideology, the reality of achievement despite having obstacles to overcome is a deadly threat. That is why the achievements of Asians in general — and of people like the young black man with no arms — make those on the left uneasy. And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the President of the United States."

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Avatar for user 'twells'

twells | November 22, 2013 at 3:27 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

You hit the nail on the head Alex_Grebenshchikov. Well done.

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Avatar for user 'MrsGrundy'

MrsGrundy | November 22, 2013 at 6:56 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Who's Kevin Faulconer? Didn't he used to be a game show host?

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | November 24, 2013 at 8:36 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

"And why the achievements of people who created their own businesses have to be undermined by the President of the United States."

Don't give us any mullarkey about a meritocracy. The last two Democratic presidents are embodiments of personal achievement.The establishment brushed them aside and persecuted them because they didn't have the establishment's backing. There's more nepotism on the Republican side and the hydraulics of power are all about connections and class. Most recent case in point, and the most glaring example: George W. Bush. I have Asian friends who know they're used by the establishment to deflect any criticism about inequality. They're brilliant professionals who don't pay attention to politics in general because they come from cultures where the citizens are not naive enough to think that government officials actually care about them.

We're talking about REAL POWER here, Alex. Not the kind of self-satisfaction you get from making infantile comments, "everything would be alright if only those minorites would buckle-up and get with the program." What a hoot!

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