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Politics

Democratic Victories Raise Chances Of 8-1 Supermajority On San Diego City Council

Confetti drops down on supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate Todd Gloria, March 3, 2020.
Andi Dukleth
Confetti drops down on supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate Todd Gloria, March 3, 2020.

Democrats in San Diego are eyeing an 8-1 supermajority on the city council after a slew of victories in the March 3 primary.

The races in council districts 1, 3 and 9 saw only Democrats making the November runoff election. Districts 5 and 7 will have a Democrat facing off against a Republican.

In District 7, Democrat Raul Campillo won by a comfortable margin in the race to replace Republican Councilman and mayoral candidate Scott Sherman. He is expected to face off against Noli Zosa, a Republican.

And in District 5, Democrat Marni von Wilpert is neck-and-neck with Republican Joe Levanthal. The two will face off in November regardless of who wins, though the top vote getter can claim a symbolic victory. In both Districts 5 and 7, Democratic candidates won substantial majorities if their vote tallies are combined.

Local elected offices are officially nonpartisan, though controversial votes at the council often fall along party lines. Democrats currently hold a 6-vote supermajority on the council, though they have not always voted in lockstep.

RELATED: New Chair Of San Diego County Democrats Talks About Hot Races In 2020

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said the prospect of an 8-1 supermajority on the council could mean more progressive policy solutions to the city's dual crises of homelessness and housing affordability.

"With that type of mandate, the new council will have the ability to take bold action in both of those areas," he said. "There are a lot of issues that are sort of stalling at the council right now (and) we wouldn't have that problem moving into an 8-1 majority."

In addition to the council races, Democratic candidates won substantial victories for city attorney and mayor. City Attorney Mara Elliott won in a landslide, though she still must face challenger Cory Briggs in a November runoff. Briggs is also a Democrat.

Assemblymember Todd Gloria also won by a substantial margin in the mayor's race. He will face either Sherman or Councilwoman Barbara Bry, also a Democrat, as the county continues to tally thousands of votes.

Past Democrat-on-Democrat races in San Diego have resulted in nasty in-fighting: Vivian Moreno, who was elected to the District 8 seat in 2018, was labeled "the choice of Trump Republicans" in a Facebook ad paid for by the county Democratic party, which had endorsed her opponent. The ad was ultimately taken down after an outcry from party activists.

And Monica Montgomery, who won her race in District 4, faced last-minute mailers attacking her for working for a Republican politician earlier in her career. The mailers were paid for by two unions that had endorsed Myrtle Cole, the incumbent whom Montgomery unseated.

Rodriguez-Kennedy said he won his bid for the party chairmanship last year in part on a pledge to refrain from those types of "ad hominem" attacks, and that he expected a "vibrant discussion" in Democrat-on-Democrat races.

"They may be largely aligned on the issues, but their approaches may be different, the coalitions they build to get things done may be different," he said. "That will be an interesting conversation to have among our party."