Special Mayoral Election 2013: Winners and Losers

Brian Brady Brian Brady 24 Comments


If you went to bed at 8 p.m. last night and just woke up, Kevin Faulconer won the special election for San Diego Mayor by 10 points and Proposition B in Solana Beach passed by a slim margin. As San Diego puts the Filner era behind us, let’s consider who won big last night and who lost:

Kevin Faulconer is a big winner. Faulconer ran a campaign which focused on his ability to lead all San Diegans. It looks like he won the majority of the vote of Republicans, non-partisan affiliated voters, and Democrats.  Faulconer took the Republican reform messages to neighborhoods which typically don’t vote Republican and convinced African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans, who have traditionally voted for Democrats, to vote for him. He didn’t let negative attacks take him off message, laid out his vision, and convinced a changing electorate to embrace a freedom agenda.

David Alvarez lost an election but I wouldn’t call him a loser. He had an uphill battle after the Bob Filner fiasco and made the mistake of pandering to the progressive wing of the local Democratic Party. He needs a lot more experience if he wants to govern at the level of mayor or above. Some “real world,” private sector experience also wouldn’t hurt him. He sounded confused on the Mike Slater Show, in an interview after he cancelled a debate with Faulconer, when asked basic economic questions. Being on the wrong side of financial reform and taxes made him look like a “faculty lounge Democrat.”

Tony Krvaric is a winner. While Filner started collapsing, Krvaric made the smart decision to keep quiet. He restrained the local Republican Party from getting involved, avoiding the appearance of impropriety. He kept in contact with donors, potential candidates to replace Filner, and volunteers, while helping to build a coalition around a good candidate with a plan to win. He followed Faulconer’s lead and built new relationships with communities which historically haven’t voted Republican.  Krvaric rallied the Republican volunteers to get out the vote by stressing that this election was about more than winning City Hall.

Francine Busby lost big.  She mismanaged the Filner fiasco and made the local Democratic Party look like it cared more about aggregating power than protecting women.  Donna Frye and Marco Gonzalez are not interlopers; they’re hard-core Democrats who knew this could have lasting effects on the local brand.  Busby was dealt a wild card with Nathan Fletcher but her poor leadership produced a rift within the party faithful.  Encouraging restraint rather than endorsement, in the fall special  election, might have erected a “big tent”.  Today, the local Democratic Party looks like its beholden to the anti-business, progressive wing.

T.J. Zane and the Lincoln Club won.  The non-partisan but right-leaning business PAC helped  build a coalition for Faulconer.  Zane was able to raise money and elect a reform candidate who supports pension reform, managed competition, and regulatory relief.  The Lincoln Club was able to highlight one candidate’s “flexible” principles in the fall election and another candidate’s hostility towards the business community in yesterday’s election.  San Diegans want jobs and the Lincoln Club was able to remind them that entrepreneurs, rather than government, creates those jobs.

Mickey Kasparian and organized labor lost.  They played a purity card in the fall campaign by backing the long shot Alvarez early.  It was a big gamble which required millions of outside dollars and produced a loss of influence at City Hall.  Kasparian resented that Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez backed Fletcher and was more focused on showing everyone “who was labor boss” rather than trying to establish a relationship with the new Democrat Fletcher.

Nathan Fletcher lost but he’ll be back. He endorsed Alvarez right after he conceded the fall election and passed his “loyalty test” for the local Democratic faithful. His future as a city-wide candidate is suspect but don’t be surprised if he attempts a state-wide race in 2016 or 2018. Republicans can’t play the “he switched” card against him now and will defeat him on experience and policy in the future.

Carl DeMaio won. He made a good strategic decision to stick with his bid for Congress and endorse Faulconer. His message of reform resonates with the CD 52 voters in San Diego. Mayor-Elect Faulconer will endorse and support him and, barring a scandal at City Hall (which is highly unlikely),  Faulconer’s support will raise DeMaio’s appeal to independent voters and pro-business Democrats.  Peters, like all pro-Obamacare Congressman, is going to have to deal with angry voters in November.  DeMaio can throw elbows in this campaign, highlight that he is a fighter, and Faulconer can say that he really wants a fighter to represent him in Congress.

Todd Gloria won. He was a good interim Mayor, endorsed his party’s candidate, and gets high marks from the local media. He’s young so I expect him to be a front runner to challenge Faulconer in 2016. While defeating an incumbent, with bi-partisan appeal, experience and leadership qualities will be nearly impossible, expect local Democrats to look to Gloria to challenge Mayor-Elect Faulconer or run for a statewide race in 2016.

National and Statewide Democrats lost. President Obama,  Governor Brown, DNC Chair Wasserman-Schultz, Senator Feinstein, and Senator Boxer all endorsed a man they probably didn’t know. It looked phony and heavy-handed. Can you remember when President Bush endorsed then-mayor candidate Jerry Sanders in the special election of 2005? Oh wait, that didn’t happen. That didn’t happen because President Bush was prosecuting the global war on terror. Presidents usually do national and international things.

Revolvis Consulting won. They ran a great campaign by reaching out to non-Republican voters.  They’ll have their mettle tested twice more in the City Council races and, if they win both of those, the consensus will be that they understand San Diego voters better than most consulting firms.

The Solana Beach City Council lost. Every one of the Council members voted to enact a restrictive policy and conduct an expensive special election.  Rather than adopt a pilot policy which would grant reasonable access to the community center, they decided to show 2,500 citizens who was boss. The Council dug in its heels on it’s “compromise half-access plan” and voted to conduct a special election, which cost $200,000. In the end, Proposition B was more about a repudiation of the City Council than an arcane policy. Mayor Campbell and former Mayor Nichols face re-election in November and if this populist revolt takes root, the Solana Beach voters will entertain Republicans to challenge the all-Democratic Council.

Republican volunteers won. The news of our death is highly exaggerated. The San Diego Mayoral election demonstrated that our local party can come together and elect our candidates in an environment that isn’t always friendly to us. As much as the Faulconer campaign deserves credit for a great win, Republican volunteers outhustled, outperformed, and outshone their counterparts on the other side of the aisle. Victory is fleeting and being a California Republican is to perpetually push a boulder up a hill, but yesterday shows that hard work and dedication pays off.

Congratulations to all who “won” yesterday. I woke up this morning in Solana Beach and traveled to San Diego for work today. Let’s just say both cities felt a little bit more free today than they did yesterday.


Comments 24

  1. Brian: Excellent summary. Another great sign for us in this town was the hundreds of young volunteers of all races making phone calls and walking door to door. After many years of broken promises by Obama and Jerry Brown, losing their healthcare, and not getting jobs, they’re fed up and frustrated with the Democrats. They know that there’s a better answer out there and Kevin’s message of creating jobs and investing in San Diego resonated with them.

    This outstanding win is a big shot in the arm for Republicans not only in California, but nationwide. The leftists were beaten badly and now we know that we can win big in 2014 with the same message and ground game.

  2. Brian,

    Very well written and there is precious little with which to quibble. I do, however, think it is important to point out that this was a special election and those elections have historically been very advantageous for Republicans. Add to that the fact that the race was to replace a disgraced Democrat and I would hesitate to do to much back-slapping. If the successes continue through 2016, then it will be time to bow down to the greatness of Revolvis, Krvaric and the Republican Machine.

  3. Brian,

    Thanks for the round up. Let me say I am pleased that their are Republicans that are happy with yesterday’s victory. A lot of analysis has been passed on the whether to’s and why for’s about why it was so resounding. In the true spirit of camaraderie, it is nice to see one finally in the win column that is not the democrat in CA. Sadly, this may be more of a tactical win than a true strategic one for the Party.

    However, not all the “winners and losers” have been assessed;

    1. Pragmatism- Winner. Yes, the GOP went with a clear a distinct messaging platform that was to tack away from the core party and “soften” the edges, appear more “inclusive” and truly did sense the pulse of the anti- Filner residue and Union-flooding with money of the electorate. That may play in Chicago, Philly, or Detroit, but clearly their was a revulsion of that kind of blatant pragmatism shown by the Dems in SD. However, this kind of pragmatism may not withstand the Congressional race. The Dems, feeling embolden with Union backing, outside money, even the President’s endorsement, lost based on their version of “pragmatism.” It isn’t always the recipe for victory, as the Dems experienced first hand.

    2. Conservatives/People of Faith- Losers- While Mr. Faulconer appealed to the independent and more moderate and perhaps urban voters, his deafening silence and known positions (read-rejection) of Marriage and Life as once sacred GOP platform positions is now out there for the whole country to see. It will be interesting as the WSJ is reporting when his New Majority partner in crime, Mr. DeMaio, runs his new congressional ad featuring his Gay Partner.


    No more subtlety and euphemism now. People will certainly both praise and scorn the ad, but the position of the GOP vis-a-vis the stated platform as formerly announced and promulgated by the state and national GOP leadership is now evident and obvious for ALL to see.

    Brace for impact.

    As both Messrs Faulconer and DeMaio have demonstrated, and emboldened by this new surge of Rovian “pragmatism”, what will be the next platform item from the old GOP they will see as necessary to “evolve” from; Will it be a pragmatic hike on Mr. Rider’s precious tax code, or perhaps a pragmatic restriction on Mr. Schwartz’s immutable Second amendment, or might it be another affront to common sense of your debt crisis (as we saw today with yet again another raising of the debt ceiling by Republicans)… Since they both already have shown intent and capability to negate the will of thousands of their conservative “constituents” with the anti-Prop 8 stunt pledge as city councilmen, what will be the next great “pragmatic” action they take that whittles further into the GOP Platform precepts???

    Perhaps Rostra can have a contest to see which former precept will be the next to be ignored or dismissed by the New GOP. 🙂

  4. I’m happy to see a pro-marriage equality Republican in office. Republicans hard right turn nationally on social issues has kept various demographics away from them. It’s hard to believe a small government message when you advocate that state governments should be able to cause families headed by same-sex couples real economic harm as the result of discrimination and leave them at increased legal risk, such as lack of next-of-kin rights. As more Republicans embrace legalizing marriage for same-sex couples, and the national party inevitably writes marriage equality into their platform, they’re going to gain a significant advantage with a new brand as the party of individual liberty.

  5. Paul,

    “pro-marriage equality Republican”

    So its about “equality”…I look forward to your glowing posts on polygamy and incest marriages in the future..

  6. Add one more “Loser” to the mix: KIRK JORGENSEN.

    Instead of volunteering to help elect Kevin Faulconer by working the most important day of GOTV, Kirk Jorgensen and his few friends stood outside a handful of polling stations asking for voter signatures for his nomination petitions.

    A few volunteer GOP poll watchers who saw this came back to Faulconer HQ and had a few laughs, but also shared their frustration that Kirk was AWOL on GOTV for this key race.

    Then again, as FF’s comment shows above, it does not seem Kirk’s team has an appetite for supporting Republicans they do not see as “pure” by their standards.

    Perhaps they would prefer a liberal democrat win. Perhaps…

  7. Wait. I thought Founding Father thought that candidates who concentrate on anti-gay and anti-abortion policies (and avoide fiscal issues) were a winning GOP choice — that such a candidate can win along the coast (Peters’ district) or in San Diego.

    Obviously he was wrong. Does ANYONE doubt that Jorgensen would have lost BADLY to Alvarez? Besides FF and Karen Grube, of course.

  8. Two good points, HQ. I’m only slapping backs this week then it’s back to the grind. In my second to last paragraph:

    “Victory is fleeting and being a California Republican is to perpetually push a boulder up a hill, but yesterday shows that hard work and dedication pays off.”

  9. HQ has a point. If this open seat contest were decided in the November 2012 or 2016 election — when legions of the uninformed DemBot voters turn out to vote en masse — Alvarez would be mayor.

    But, offsetting this is the tact that 2016 will NOT be an open seat election, giving incumbent Mayor Faulconer a leg up against the opposition. Of course, his performance prior to that election will be rather important.

    I’m a Faulconer supporter, but I know full well we won’t always agree. I hope Kevin concentrates on the all important and popular fiscal reform issues. Not only the local voters but the national political establishment will be watching this highly placed GOP Mayor in a Democrat city in operation.

    May he strike fear into public employee labor union bosses everywhere.

  10. First, congratulations to Kevin Falconer. I am sure he will be a unifying mayor.

    That being said, thank God the San Diego Mayoral race is over. Tired of the crappy lying ads, the campaign clutter, etc…

    Let’s stroll down History Lane for a moment. It is important to remember why this occurred. The reason is the Democrat Party of San Diego. They knowingly endorsed Bob Filner for Mayor – a pervert. Donna Frye and several other noteworthy Democrats endorsed him for Mayor – probably with his promise that his sexual harassment and womanizing would stop. Filner likely promised up and down that he would behave, so they said – Filner for Mayor.

    Frye’s visceral reaction to Filner’s behavior was typical of someone who was betrayed, but her reaction was much stronger than others. That tells me she knew in advance.

    The SD Dem Party knew what they were getting with Filner. They likely knew he was a lech – and yet they backed him anyway – hoping he would change. And the unions essentially financed both the Filner and Alvarez campaigns with millions in contributions.

    This election, was an anti SD Democrat Party vote, an anti Union vote, anti Obama, and anti Brown election.

    It was a pro Faulconer vote – as his message was a unifying one. It was less an anti Alvarez, although I do believe his age and Junior status in the City Council were factors.

    To win by a 10 point margin, in a city that is quite literally 50/50 registered Rep/Dem was a huge feat for Falconer and a message to several organizations.

    Lastly, the GOP needs to learn the power of the GOTV effort.

  11. “Instead of volunteering to help elect Kevin Faulconer by working the most important day of GOTV, Kirk Jorgensen and his few friends stood outside a handful of polling stations asking for voter signatures for his nomination petitions.”

    Endorsements have consequences….or did you not plan for that…oops.

    Nearly 100 resident volunteers covering scores of voting stations gathering thousands of signatures…you keep laughing, Details…we’ll keep the momentum building..:)

  12. “Wait. I thought Founding Father thought that candidates who concentrate on anti-gay and anti-abortion policies (and avoide [sic] fiscal issues) were a winning GOP choice — that such a candidate can win along the coast (Peters’ district) or in San Diego. ”

    RR, you thought wrong. My resistance is to a GOP who has obviously and blatantly embraced pro-secular, libertine approaches over the stated GOP platform precepts. Apparently, hypocrisy, duplicity, and political expedience dressed in “pragmatism” have swept the electorate. They couldn’t win on the stated convictions…so, they changed them…they changed the platform, and the ideology and conviction behind them, so they could appear more appealing to an increasingly ignorant and dis-informed electorate. Bless your heart, the more you spout the “anti-gay” rhetoric, the more you sound like some MSNBC progressive hack claiming all who are against Obama are just “racist.” With the exception of you and the handful of libertines here, really no one buys that anymore.

    Newsflash- Jorgensen wasn’t running against Alvarez …a rather quirky, non-sequitur analogy… he is the conservative alternative to an increasingly “in-your-face” RINO candidate, Demaio…we shall see how the New Majority brand of ideologically progressive-fueled pragmatism works in the 52CD.

  13. Steve Hunyar,

    ” The reason is the Democrat Party of San Diego. They knowingly endorsed Bob Filner for Mayor…”

    Before we cast too many stones and blame all Democrats and future Democratic nominees for office, I think it would be wise to remember Roger Hedgecock, Dick Murphy and Duke Cunningham. Neither party is immune from making bad choices.

    San Diego generally votes for the candidate perceived as most moderate and almost always votes for the candidate who is less threatening. Kevin Faulconer was the better candidate and I hope he is a great Mayor, but remember that except for his anti-union stance, he didn’t run on any issue that you will find in the Republican platform. In fact, except for that anti-union bias, he would fit very well in the Democratic Party.

  14. With all the talk of inclusion and tolerance on this blog, where is the tolerance and open mindedness for FF and Karen? I see more for Alvarez than for them. By the way, there was NO gratitude by the gay community for Kevin’s support of SSM. Hillcrest, Mission Hills, North Park, and other gay communities voted heavily for Alvarez, the Democrat. Not much tolerance, open-mindedness, and inclusion on the part of the gay community.

  15. The media are working overtime trying to figure out the reason for the result in the mayor’s race. The best explanation I’ve seen on the Kevin Faulconer victory, because it accurately measures data that correlates 100% to determining the winner in any race:

    He received more votes.

  16. To steal a phrase, “Barry Jantz, making the obvious, obvious.”

    Terry Bradshaw once responded to a question about what the Steelers needed to do to win their upcoming game responded (paraphrased) “If we score more points than them, I like our chances.”

  17. Dan,

    The Log Cabin Republicans were probably to most dedicated volunteer group for Faulconer.


    The RPSDC GOTV was very good this election. Not great but VERY good–the best I’ve seen in 8 years. Keep in mind that we won poll voters by +1 and outhustled the Democrats on Election Day. We will improve it but we did very well

  18. Brian: I disagree. The hard core members of the San Diego Republican Party, especially the Republican Women’s groups were the most dedicated volunteers. I appreciate the efforts of The Log Cabin Republicans but they didn’t deliver the gay vote. Results are the only things that count.

    Kevin made a huge effort to reach out to the gay community and they stabbed him in the back on election day. Actions speak louder than words. I hope he realizes now that they are not his friends and supporters.

  19. Another person who “won” was Jen Tierney. One of the smartest things I have heard over the past decade was Jennifer talking about how she ran council candidates to focus on hyper local issues and to use that to connect with voters in a way that showed “they cared about voters like me”.

    Busby et. al. forgot that lesson. They thought they could run David A using a fairly hard national progressive message (“rich are bad, minimum wage is low, capitalism is evil!, shipbuilders kill people!”) That just, it seems to me, misses how people at the winning middle think about local elections and how many municipal policy issues don’t fit easily into a simple left/right national politics box.

    As a conservative I like the fact that they missed this lesson. They seem ready to do it again over in District 2, where they are going to try to run someone essentially fresh out of law school to connect with 30+ year residents of neighborhoods (GOOD luck with that 😉 .

  20. “This is a TEAM sport and what matters is WE won…
    And by team I mean everyone but Jorgensen.”

    Hector, it is best you not speak to things of which you do not know. The RPSDC GOP leadership has refused to host a debate with Mr. Jorgensen…they up-ed the endorsement process by 4 months to skew the process in Mr. DeMaio’s favor. Those wanting to speak on Mr. Jorgensen’s behalf during the endorsement discussion were curtailed by the leadership to be able to do so. Many committee members have been scolded, and some intimidated, to get on board” with DeMaio, who he himself threatened the local GOP with a drying up of national money if he was not the endorsement. “A slap in the face to all Republicans” was how it was described to me by one close to the discussions. Back in Oct 13, papa Doug Manchester, Tom Sudberry, Kevin Faulconer, Tony Krvaric and Carl DeMaio sealed the fate for any chance of a fair and resident spawned candidate in the 52CD. The New Generation, fueled by the Lincoln Club and other special interest groups made these decisions in what can only be described as the most Un-American of ways, all in the effort to minimize true conservatism, and specifically people of faith within the party and their deep held beliefs. Many on here will make hyperbolic retorts, begin the name calling, and feign disgust at those questioning the party leadership, but in the end, they, and now you, know this all to be true.

    Endorsements have consequences…Mr. Faulconer is in the political bed with DeMaio…he is now going to go full bore for DeMaio…per the investment plan of Papa Doug, et al…Word of advise: Don’t fall in love with the local GOP here in SD…it is for the most part run in a Tammany-style way, often through manipulation, intimidation, and a selective adherence to its own rules. I have discovered many, many (former committee members, candidates, and republicans) people here in SDC know this all too well.

  21. “I appreciate the efforts of The Log Cabin Republicans but they didn’t deliver the gay vote. Results are the only things that count. ”

    They weren’t asked to deliver the “gay vote”; they were asked to turn out the Republican vote and they were the most notable presence at any Faulconer volunteer session, from October through last night.

    Nor was the Republican Liberty Caucus asked to turn out the libertarian vote; we were trying to turn out the Republican vote.

    I’m not looking for gay Republicans to turn out “the gay vote”, black Republicans to turn out “the black vote”, Christian Republican to turn out “the Christan vote”, I”m just looking for Republicans to come out and vote. To that end, the LCR was the hardest working club in the campaign

  22. I forgot to compliment you on your analysis, Brian. So, here it is. Really good and I learned from it. Thanks!

  23. Here’s the way it works.

    Nehring decides who the candidates are going to be. This is based on his great track record in California.

    Krvaric goes along so he can keep his position.

    The Central Committee is told who they are to vote for so that they can keep their job.

    Ask Maggie Acerra if this is true or not.

    If you challenge them in any way they will either buy you off or chastise you into obscurity.

    Open process – NO

    Inclusive process – NO

    Fair process – NO

    And they wonder why Republican registration in CA is now under 30%

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