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In The Pocket: The Price of Getting Elected Mayor Of San Diego

It's now two weeks until the special San Diego mayoral election on Feb. 11. Are you feeling winded yet?

According to some polls, the race is getting tighter. And according to some close watchers of political maneuvering, it's getting more combative.

While councilman and Democratic candidate David Alvarez focused in on women’s rights this past weekend, and gun control on Tuesday, Republican candidate and councilman Kevin Faulconer hammered hard against large sums of money being provided to his opponent by organized labor unions.

Unions are channeling a lot of cash toward Alvarez’s bid to become the second Democratic mayor of San Diego in more than 20 years. Organized labor has provided just less than 85 percent of the cash pointed towards getting Alvarez elected. But Faulconer has accused unions of “trying to buy this election.”

Mesa College political scientist Carl Luna said that charge is a tad bit disingenuous. Luna doesn’t dispute the numbers, but he says “if you take a look at Mr. Faulconer’s funding, even though he gets it from lots of different people, he gets a disproportionate share from business-oriented interests.”

So why is it easier to pin Alvarez under the thumb of influence? According to Luna, “it is just that there are more businesses to contribute than labor unions per se. So that sort of skews the debate.”

Basically Luna said it is a case of the pot calling the kettle … up for sale. It is politics after all and everyone is funded by something and someone.

It is worth noting that labor money isn’t going directly into Alvarez’s coffers. Instead, it is financing political action committees set up to help with election efforts.

Luna said that is the real issue on which to skewer Alvarez.

“I actually think a bigger point Mr. Faulconer could raise is that the money that is being received from Mr. Alvarez from labor unions is in the form of independent expenditures,” he said.

Luna said part of that is because of campaign contribution limits, but he feels there is more to the story.

“Part of it seems to me to be that they (the unions) feel he can’t run the campaign as well as they might. It’s like they are buying him the car, but not letting him drive it,” Luna said.

So maybe not buying him off, but buying him wheels?

But that is a simplification of both candidates, even according Luna's calculations. Both might be funded by disparate groups but the gears of politics are always greased by cash.

It is how the candidates' narratives emerge from messy politics of a short and negative election that will add up in the end.

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