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Breaking Down Faulconer’s Win In San Diego Mayor’s Race

Evening Edition

Aired 2/12/14 on KPBS News.

Overnight, Republican Kevin Faulconer went from city councilman to mayor-elect. For insight into how he defeated Democrat David Alvarez, KPBS Morning Edition Anchor Deb Welsh spoke with San Diego Mesa College political science Professor Carl Luna.

Overnight, Republican Kevin Faulconer went from city councilman to mayor-elect. For details on how he defeated Democratic opponent David Alvarez, KPBS Morning Edition anchor Deb Welsh speaks with San Diego Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna.

Q: We have a Republican mayor. Did the Republicans outspend the Democrats or did Democrats fail to get out the Hispanic vote? Was it a combination of both?

I think, Deb, what you’ve got is something of a perfect storm for Democrats: The triple ‘w.’ They had a weak candidate, a weak message and a weak turnout. For all the expectations turnout could be 40 - 45 percent or so, it was what it was in the primary, which meant that the south of (Interstate-8) voters really didn’t show up for David Alvarez.

Q: Do you think last November’s primary election had any effect on yesterday’s race?

It definitely left the Republicans consolidated behind Kevin Faulconer, and he was able to parlay that into success by getting a good turnout particularly in the mail-in ballots, about 70 percent of his vote came in by mail.

Maybe the Democrats are now in the process of buyer’s remorse; they may have had a better chance it turns out with Nathan Fletcher, who could’ve bridged the middle gap. They went instead with more of a true progressive as some would like to label him, David Alvarez, but youthful inexperience and a message that didn’t resonate across enough of the city undid them.

Mayoral candidate David Alvarez at election night party at Public Market 1735 National Ave. February 11, 2014.

Q: You mentioned youthful. David Alvarez, 33 years old, the youngest mayor had he been elected for San Diego. Do you think age played a factor in that?

It probably played a minor factor on the turnout on Election Day. Most of the ballots — and this was a key issue for Alvarez — most came in through mail, so they even came out through before those David Alvarez's — 33-year-old’s — ads even began to air and hit the voters. What Mr. Alvarez basically had the same mail in percentage of his votes as Mr. Faulconer did, where he needed to have a much higher Election Day turnout. So the vaunted “Get Out The Vote” campaign apparently did not get out the vote.

Q: With Faulconer the new mayor-elect, Democrats in essence will have a veto-proof majority on the City Council. What does that mean in terms cooperation between the new mayor and the council?

Mr. Faulconer has been on the council, he’s dealt with the council, he’s made compromises where he’s needed to, he’s been overruled in areas where he hasn’t wanted to. He can block things from moving forward to a degree, but the simple reality is the situation on the ground is the council remains the same; it stays 5-4 Democrat over Republican — could become 6-3; and, with the council elections coming up, it could maintain 6-3. He’ll have to work with the City Council to get things done, and a lot of the progressive agenda of Bob Filner through Todd Gloria will continue.

Q: What do you see happening in terms of issues now that Faulconer is the new mayor-elect?

Well right off the bat you’ve got living wage issues to come up: They’re going to raise the minimum wage and how high you going to raise it? Barrio Logan is on the agenda coming up for the spring, community planning, outsourcing of jobs, dealing with ongoing budget problems or issues, to keep the budget going. And just your brass tacks: filling potholes, opening libraries and maintaining hours. So it’s going to be a lot of business as usual, but there’s going to be a little bit more of a tussle now between the mayor’s office — now that Mr. Faulconer is a true strong mayor in that position — and the Democratically controlled City Council.

Q: The Barrio Logan zoning plan has been a controversial issue. What do you see for that? Do you expect it to be reversed?

Now that could end up being a major dividing issue for the council. The council put it through 5-4, Mr. Faulconer voted against it. The industry and other concerned people got it on to the ballot, and it’s going to be one of the those issues: Do you stick by what the council and a long community planning group came up with and all of public input? Or do you overturn it at the ballot? That’s going to be a bit battle in June.

Luna said he’s heard talk about Faulconer moving up the political ranks.

“…Kevin Faucloner, overnight goes from being a back-bench council member to a Republican star," Luna said. "And people have been mentioning about Sacramento for Mr. Faulconer. He has a chance to possibly move up on the system, which actually clears the decks for Democrats even more.”

Kevin Faulconer greets fans at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego on election night for the mayoral runoff, Feb. 11, 2014.


Avatar for user 'ericdamian'

ericdamian | February 12, 2014 at 9:58 a.m. ― 2 months ago

"Did the Republicans outspend the Democrats"?

Does this reporter even live here? Unions alone outspent Kevin by 30%.

You progressive creatures are truly delusional.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 12, 2014 at 10:34 a.m. ― 2 months ago,0,6216482.story#axzz2t8Lnxulf

LA Times reports unofficial voter turnout was at 37%.

Can KPBS confirm this number?

This is abysmal.

What good is having a Democratic majority in this city if no one votes.

VERY disappointed in the city of San Diego today.


I know young people are busier with their lives than the wealthy north county senior citizens who elected Faulconer, but come on people - YOU CHECK ONE BOX and stick it in the mail or drive somewhere near by to check the box. If you can't handle that then you deserve a special interest mayor who represents the Romneys and Manchesters (i.e., the 1%) like Faulconer.

From here on out, anytime I hear someone complaining about Mr. Faulconer my first response will be DID YOU VOTE!?

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Avatar for user 'lynx04'

lynx04 | February 12, 2014 at 11:14 a.m. ― 2 months ago

I'm not sure what happened, but there were 450 of us volunteers out walking for David yesterday. We all had the same experience south of I-8: lines to vote and extremely high turnout of people who said they were going to vote for David. There was so much motivation for him that it almost seems as if the votes got mixed up, with Kevin's votes going to David and vice verse. I would feel better if there were a recount.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 12, 2014 at 11:47 a.m. ― 2 months ago

I didn't vote, but my man still won.

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Avatar for user 'MaoTzu'

MaoTzu | February 12, 2014 at 12:27 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Just goes to show that too much sunshine is bad for the brain.

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Avatar for user 'Marissa Cabrera'

Marissa Cabrera, KPBS Staff | February 12, 2014 at 1:02 p.m. ― 2 months ago

County registrar says unofficial voter turnout 37.7%

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 12, 2014 at 1:56 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Over 200 hundred at the precinct that I worked at.

This isn't about "young" people as Quackster suggested. Mayoral races are simply not sexy. There were several factors involved in this one.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | February 12, 2014 at 2:12 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Considering the overwhelming victory for Faulconer, the citizens of San Diego CLEARLY don't trust the Democratic Party or unions after Filner.

Democrats were given their chance last year and blew it big time. Then add in a toxic endorsement from unpopular Obama and Alvarez went from little chance to zero chance.

We are a city of moderate independents and yesterday we soundly rejected the Democrat's class-warfare and racially-biased candidate. Those are NOT the values of San Diegans and we shouted that loud and clear!

WELL DONE SAN DIEGO! Not let's get moving again!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 12, 2014 at 3:04 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Carl Luna: At least it wasn't 20% like in LA.

Um, that's apples and oranges. LA had two Democrats running!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 12, 2014 at 3:04 p.m. ― 2 months ago

54 to 45 is NOT "overwhelming." Mmmaybe Math 101, CA Off, while you are concurrently taking World History 101???

Moderate independents??? Weren't you among those people on the Right calling Fletch a "sell-out" last fall??? Explain why Fletch didn't win in November???

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 12, 2014 at 3:06 p.m. ― 2 months ago

If I was Alvarez I would not have allowed a demagogue like Toni Atkins stand next to me. It would have been like Faulconer allowing Tim Donnelly stand next to him!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 12, 2014 at 3:10 p.m. ― 2 months ago

If anyone wants to see the true reason Faulconer won, go to the map KPBS provided on one of these articles where you can see the returnes for each and every precinct.

Conservative precincts had high turnout, and liberal ones had low turnout.

CADef, this wasn't because more San Diegans like Faulconer, it was because very few San Diegans turned out, and senior citizens, the most reliable voters and also Faulconer's bread and butter, turned out in the highest numbers.

CADef, the DAY AFTER Faulconer gets elected, his butt isn't even in the chair yet, and already there is an article showing the Chargers are back on the prowl for a new stadium.

Is that REALLY your idea of getting the city back on track?

This will be the first in a long line of developers and corporate special interests who are ready to ca$$$$h in on their rewards for getting Mr. Faulconer elected.

This will be 3 years of San Diego as we used to know it, under the likes of Roger Hegecock.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | February 12, 2014 at 4:18 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Poor Duck. Such a poor loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 12, 2014 at 9:12 p.m. ― 2 months ago

Mission, Toni Atkins is a well respected local and now state leader. I don't see how posing with her would have been detrimental to Alvarez.

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Avatar for user 'Boots'

Boots | February 13, 2014 at 1:21 a.m. ― 2 months ago

At least 50,000 of the first returns for Falconer came from the very small conservative power base of Rancho Bernardo which has hosted the likes of Rick Perry and Joe Arpiao.
Falconer benefited from the conditions,that were well planned, and name recognition.Most of the rest of the country has already forgotten, except the hundreds of right wing blogs which are still trying to tie this to Obama

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | February 13, 2014 at 8:46 a.m. ― 2 months ago

At least neither of the special interest parties controls both the mayor's office and the council. Hopefully they will just keep fighting each other to a standstill and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | February 13, 2014 at 9:58 a.m. ― 2 months ago

If the United States really cared about democracy as much as we pretend to care, voting would be required. The fact that there are laws disqualifying people from voting but not requiring voting means that our system is a joke ... on us.

Voting is confirmation bias. We don't elect leaders. Voting is our way of lying to ourselves until the next circus comes to town.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 13, 2014 at 10:57 a.m. ― 2 months ago

DeLaRick - I do not want completely ignorant idiots and druggies to be forced to vote. Who do those types of people vote for? The left.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | February 13, 2014 at 12:42 p.m. ― 2 months ago


One person, one vote. That's true democracy.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | February 13, 2014 at 5:13 p.m. ― 2 months ago

JM, your stereo types have no basis in reality.

There are plenty of right wing druggies about

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | February 13, 2014 at 5:55 p.m. ― 2 months ago

@QUACKSTER, because she is an straight-jacket ideologue. It would be like Faulconer, whom I don't consider moderate and certainly no Roger Hedgefund, standing next to a Tim Donnelly!

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