San Diego mayor’s race heads to runoff after low-turnout election
SAN DIEGO -- The election to find a mayoral replacement for the disgraced Bob Filner will now enter round two: a runoff early next year for two members of the City Council.
After a polite campaign, and a much lower-than-predicted turnout, Councilman Kevin Faulconer was the top vote-getter, with Councilman David Alvarez nosing out former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for the second spot.
With all 581 precincts counted, Faulconer had 43.58% of the vote, Alvarez 25.59%, Fletcher 24.3% and former City Atty. Mike Aquirre 4.44%. Seven other candidates split the remaining percentages.
Some 34,500 provisional ballots remain to be counted, but Fletcher is given little chance to overcome Alvarez’s 2,638-vote lead.
Unofficially, turnout appears to be in the 30% range, far below the 50% initially predicted by the county registrar of voters.
Faulconer was the only Republican among the major candidates after an invitation-only meeting one Saturday in La Jolla among GOP and business leaders. They decided to back Faulconer and seek to discourage former Councilman Carl DeMaio from entering the race. DeMaio remained in a race for the GOP nomination in the 52nd Congressional District.
A Faulconer-Alvarez runoff will pit the former’s support from the city’s business leadership and arguably its most popular public figure, former Mayor Jerry Sanders, against the latter’s endorsement by the city’s labor unions and the Sierra Club.
Faulconer, 46, is finishing his second term on the City Council representing a beach district. Alvarez, 33, has been on the council for three years representing a more blue-collar district south of Interstate 8, the city’s traditional political dividing line.
Fletcher, 36, was making his second run for mayor. He placed third in last year’s primary behind Filner and DeMaio.
This year his campaign was dogged by assertions that he is an opportunist, willing to change political parties to gain advantage. In the Assembly, he was a Republican; last year he switched to independent and this year he registered as a Democrat.
Filner resigned Aug. 30 amid allegations of sexual harassment. He is set to be sentenced Dec. 9 for his guilty plea to one felony and two misdemeanors involving mistreatment of women. Under a plea bargain, he will be subjected to home confinement for three months but will not serve time in jail or prison.
Wednesday morning, Faulconer made the rounds of morning television shows; Alvarez had to cancel, citing a hoarse voice.
Faulconer needed 50% plus one vote to avoid a runoff.
Minutes after Alvarez appeared a lock on the No. 2 spot, Francine Busby, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, called on all Democrats to unite behind Alvarez.
The county party had backed Alvarez but a group of Democratic notables, including Gov. Jerry Brown, had backed Fletcher. Democrats hold a growing registration edge in San Diego but low voter turnout tends to favor Republicans, according to political consultants.
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