The San Diego Mayoral campaign is officially a horse race. Both candidates have locked up their voters with less than 10 percent of the electorate “undecided,” one poll says. Voters have a choice between a moderate Republican and a self-described progressive in the Obama tradition. While those choices may not appeal to movement conservatives, the next Mayor will have a huge influence on the direction of the City of San Diego for the rest of this decade. Kevin Faulconer is clearly the choice for conservatives.
Faulconer is committed to the voter-approved reform agenda while David Alvarez isn’t. Alvarez’ voting record suggests he’ll meddle in the economy, favoring centralized planning over letting people decide how to solve problems and seize opportunities. Faulconer has real world experience with a decade and a half career in the private sector, while Alvarez has spent the last decade and a half in government agency and government jobs. This is important because, in the real world, customers drive our paychecks while, in the government world, politics does.
I’ve said that David Alvarez is a serious candidate and should not be taken lightly. Alvarez is likeable, principled, and an underdog. He’s also a sycophant for the same people (labor unions and progressive activists in the local Democratic party) who gave us Bob Filner. That really matters because Big Labor and Big Government really want to undo the voter-approved reform agenda Faulconer supports.
How does Faulconer win then? GOTV effort and capturing the Comprehensive Pension Reform voters.
The Republican Party of San Diego County does a good job at Get Out the Vote but lacks a solid precinct captain structure. Volunteers are typically gathered for breakfast and dispatched to “target” neighborhoods on GOTV day. While this is helpful, the volunteer often lacks a community connection with the voter. Efforts by the Faulconer campaign and RPSDC should be made to identify local volunteers and recruit them to become long-standing precinct captains. Those precinct captains should know that they are responsible only for turning out the 100 or so Republican voters in their “territory.” Their message should be simple:
1- San Diego’s direction, for the next 7 years, is at stake.
2- The machine which opposes Faulconer opposes the reform agenda the voters approved.
3- The machine backs a community organizer type of candidate with no experience in the real (private) sector.
Capturing the Comprehensive Pension Reform Voters
A lot of registered Democrats and DTS voters supported Comprehensive Pension Reform. Identifying those voters shouldn’t be too hard. Once identified, the Faulconer campaign should use two surrogates to help deliver the message: Carl DeMaio and Jerry Sanders. Both DeMaio and Sanders are respected by the DTS and Democrats who voted for Comprehensive Pension Reform. Their message might be:
1- Faulconer helped San Diego recover from the Murphy era–he puts pragmatism over party.
2- Faulconer was a key ally in the reform agenda which the voters approved.
3- The same people who backed Filner are trying to defeat the reform agenda with a surrogate candidate (Alvarez).
4- San Diego can’t afford to go back to the union-influenced ways of the last century.
I think it bears mentioning that attacking Alvarez, as a person, is a losing proposition. Attacking the people behind Alvarez is fair game, however. Alvarez is a bright young man who has a life experience which has been limited to the public sector union-controlled world, while Faulconer is a more well-rounded, experienced leader.
The labor unions are going to try to paint Faulconer as a “tea party candidate.” That’s not necessarily a negative. Faulconer shouldn’t shy from speaking with conservative groups to explain why their support is the key to winning this election. Voters are looking for some distinction between these two candidates and, in my mind, Alvarez and Faulconer have much different world views on governance. Faulconer should make the clear distinction that his fiscally conservative record and a fiscally conservative vision is the right path to prosperity in San Diego.