Faulconer election won’t stop ‘Los Angelization’ of San Diego politics

Faulconer election won’t stop ‘Los Angelization’ of San Diego politics

Kevin-Faulconer-on-Fox-News-screenshotOn Tuesday, San Diego voters will decide between two City Council members in a special election to fill the remaining 33 months of the mayoral term of disgraced, resigned Bob Filner.

The early conventional wisdom was that the clear favorite was Republican Kevin Faulconer, 47, the longest-serving council member and a community figure since his election as president of San Diego State University’s student body a quarter-century ago. Not only was Faulconer like the congenial moderate Republicans who have led San Diego for much of the last four decades, his opponent was a neophyte.

Democratic Councilman David Alvarez, 33, only became a public figure in 2010 when he beat out scions of two local political dynasties to win a seat representing a largely Latino district south of Interstate 8 — the dividing line in city politics between blue-collar communities nearer the Mexican border and the affluent neighborhoods from La Jolla to inland Rancho Bernardo.

david.alvarezThat conventional wisdom has given way to a new assumption: Faulconer may win, but it will be very close — and he may be the last Republican that San Diego elects as mayor.

Given the Democrats’ hold on nearly all of California’s 10 largest cities, Faulconer might be the last big-city GOP mayor to be elected in the Golden State — barring a change in our political dynamics or demographics.

GOP held sway in San Diego not long ago

Although Democrats had long enjoyed a voter-registration edge in California’s second-largest city, Republicans did surprisingly well until 2012. It was that year that Filner, an abrasive 20-year paleoliberal congressman, edged out GOP Councilman Carl DeMaio, a small-government crusader who helped win huge changes in city compensation practices in his one term in office.

Many observers credited Filner’s 51 percent to 47 percent win to the strong turnout triggered by President Obama’s re-election campaign among Latinos and African Americans — 29 percent and 7 percent of the city’s population, respectively — and young people of all races. Also seen as a factor was DeMaio’s combative manner; the gay libertarian, the theory held, turned off the independent voters that Jerry Sanders attracted in his successful mayoral campaigns of 2005 and 2008.

So when Filner resigned in August, Republicans were confident after DeMaio decided instead to run for Congress and the well-liked Faulconer emerged as the sole credible GOP mayoral candidate. In the first special election, in November, Faulconer led with 42 percent, with Alvarez second with 27 percent, and Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher third with 24 percent. In this week’s runoff special election — runoffs typically have light turnout — the assumption was that reliably Republican absentee voters would carry the day.

Instead, the last published poll showed Faulconer only ahead 47 percent to 46 percent, within the margin of error. Millions of dollars in campaign spending by the national chapters of local unions — most of it for negative ads trashing the GOP candidate — had taken their toll.

But Republican insiders — and scores of business executives — are worried about much more than just this election.

The “Los Angelization” of America’s Finest City

unionpowerql4It’s not just the usual concerns of GOP operatives in California: that the party’s hot-button social issues turn off young voters and that Latino voter turnout is steadily increasing. It’s that San Diego’s politics are undergoing what might be called a “Los Angelization.”

The city’s school board was taken over by the local affiliate of the California Teachers Association in 2008, when union muscle elected a new board majority that instituted policies that drove away an acclaimed reformer superintendent and yielded an operating budget in which an astonishing 92 percent of funds goes to employee compensation. The CTA control of the school board only increased with the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Now the same thing is happening with the City Council. Union-favored Democratic candidates — such as Alvarez — are increasingly likely to beat Democrats with independent streaks. As recently as 2011, there were Democrats on the council who occasionally would take on unions — politicians with backgrounds in engineering and small business, as well as party members who appeared eager to hear out business interests’ concerns.

But now the union muscle-flexing not only has Alvarez near an improbable mayoral victory, it has prompted hard-left decisions by the City Council in the months since Filner quit — decisions supported by formerly semi-independent Democrats who see the writing on the wall.

Last fall, on a party-line 5-4 vote, City Council Democrats approved increasing fees on commercial development by at least 377 percent to provide more funds for affordable-housing programs — even though the programs have a horrible record of actually getting people in homes.

And on another party-line 5-4 vote, council Democrats approved a restrictive new master plan for a job-rich shipyard industrial area adjacent to the Barrio Logan neighborhood in Alvarez’s district. They did so despite dire warnings from many CEOs and business owners that it would give leverage to environmentalists and community activists to shut them down.

No more independent Democratic voices

The contrast between the current council Democratic majority and past Democratic majorities was striking. In 2007, an effort to punish Wal-Mart for the sin of being anti-union died when then-Councilwoman Donna Frye — the most popular Democrat in San Diego — changed her mind and opposed an anti-“big box” ordinance. Frye candidly admitted that her constituents liked Wal-Mart and didn’t want it punished.

Present council Democrats appear incapable of such candor. In voting for the massive fee increase on commercial development, Council President Todd Gloria — the interim mayor since Filner’s resignation — repeatedly insisted that not only would there be no negative economic fallout from the hike, it would help the local economy.

The same Gloria once stood up to unions by backing a “managed competition” process in which groups of city workers vied against private businesses for the right to provide city services — a reform strongly endorsed by voters.

Alvarez has made clear he plans to nullify voter-backed reforms. Will Gloria stand up to him? Maybe he would have a year or two ago. But now that San Diego politics are becoming as union-dominated and doctrinaire as those of Los Angeles or the California Legislature, probably not.

A Faulconer victory in Tuesday’s mayoral election may quiet GOP worries about the radicalization of San Diego City Hall — but not for long.


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  1. Impartial Observer
    Impartial Observer 10 February, 2014, 10:25

    “Many observers [may credit] Filner’s 51 percent to 47 percent win to the strong turnout triggered by President Obama’s re-election campaign among Latinos and African Americans” but that turnout in large part was triggered not by the appeal of the democratic presidential candidate, but by dark money that funded community organizers of those voting blocks. Huge sums from Democratic Party funders, public labor unions and left-leaning philanthropic foundations put a target on San Diego’s “underserved” population with back-to-back “non-partisan” voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote campaigns, robo- and live phone calling, neighborhood canvassing, and drive-a-supporter-to-vote efforts–none of which were reported properly to the FPPC or FEC, and none of which were legally authorized activities of the 501(c)(3)s that were in the front lines.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 10 February, 2014, 11:11

    My my my.

    More pending beatings for the perennial underdog party of the globalists, big box stores, country club bourgeois and privileged cavemen keeping women “Stepford Wives”.

    The Lilliputians Rule!

    Reply this comment
  3. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 10 February, 2014, 15:31

    The political situation in San Diego and other parts of our state is all about “Los Angelization” or “uneducated voters” or some other thing. Anything but acknowledging the basic FACT that the Republican Party policies ARE NOT SUPPORTED by the majority of California voters.

    Reply this comment
  4. Chris Reed
    Chris Reed 10 February, 2014, 15:44

    Steve, in San Diego, voters overwhelmingly approved pension reform, “managed comp” privatization of government services and a ban on requiring project labor agreements for big construction projects.

    I agree with you that voters aren’t warming to the GOP agenda. But in San Diego, it’s impossible, or at least illogical, to say they support an agenda that calls for nullifying what they approved.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 10 February, 2014, 15:59

    Seems no one loves their homeland more that an exile…That’s why I keep reading and participating in this forum. The old San Diego (70’s-90’s) was for me a truly exceptional place, with an almost mythic quality of life ( ahhh-Point Loma!) and a city government that was sane and solvent.

    But that was then, this is now…

    The California formula for a permanent dimmykrat supermajority is the following: 33% of the voters are government employees, 33% of the voters are on ‘benefits’ and presto-you win EVERY election! All other voters are irrelevant…

    Reinforce this transient numerical superiority on election day with constant subliminal programming to ensure that subgroups such as blacks and latinos always feel disenfranchised and marginalized. Make sure the union puppeteers and community activists ‘get out the vote’, driving people to the polls, registration drives at select locations and events, etc. Effectively one party government.

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 10 February, 2014, 18:57

    Goreee…..come back…..you will love the sleezeeee overpriced hotels, fish tacos made from farm raised Thai mystery fish, traffic downtown rivaling Compton Blvd. in LA on welfare check day…….

    You love the sucking sound of tourist dollar inflow including yours…..Keep a light on for the bed bugs that don’t bite much!

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 10 February, 2014, 20:12

      Ulysses: May Marty Emerald bless you and keep you forever and ever. Amen. (She wears the ALEPH)…..
      Seems you don’t care much for old SD.

      Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 10 February, 2014, 22:15

    You betcha…way overrated…nasty corporate restaurant chain food…..private restaurants have no real chefs just pimple faced high school drop outs doing scoop and plop and heat and serve.

    Reply this comment
  8. Gonzo
    Gonzo 11 February, 2014, 11:17

    “.private restaurants have no real chefs just pimple faced high school drop outs doing scoop and plop and heat and serve.”

    UU so your saying they’re govt restaurants that serve great food? Like where?

    And you obviously don’t get out much and enjoy the growing SD county food scene. Which is probably a good thing.

    Reply this comment
  9. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 11 February, 2014, 13:12

    San Diego is a culinary disaster…..home of farm raised odd color fish…..and loaded with 35 year old whiskey nose juveniles who grew up on Mom’s stove top stuffing

    Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 11 February, 2014, 13:16

    The only food trend growing in San Diego is how to fry Carbs and select grade burgers loaded with salt/sugar/ Mrs Dash.

    Nexium sales going through the roof!

    Reply this comment
  11. Gonzo
    Gonzo 11 February, 2014, 15:15

    San Diego home to the best local/fresh caught seafood on the west coast, bar none! Can you say Blue/Yellow fin tuna, Spiny lobsters, Urchin, Yellowtail, White seabass, Swordfish, Opah, etc……Sounds like you go to a lot of fast food restaurants.

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 11 February, 2014, 15:35

    Who can afford 20 dollars per pound fish loaded with mercury from Mexico sewers and runoff as well as Japan nuke plant stuff drifting your way.

    By the way about 5 percent of fish is inspected in United States.

    Hate fast food.

    San Diego is a big fat tourist trap rivaling New Orleans as far as hokeyness with Brady Bunch motels and over the hill 1960’s style hotels catering to Oklahoma Sooners fresh of those 24 hour all you can eat cruise ships.

    Reply this comment
  13. Gregory Brittain
    Gregory Brittain 11 February, 2014, 17:22

    It is not just the GEUs in San Diego. San Diego represents one battle on one front in the Leftist war on America, American business, American families, American religion, and American values in order to “fundamentally transform United States of America.” [Where have we heard that phrase before?]

    The Leftist war on America’s waged every day in and by the schools, universities, Hollywood, the EPA, the corrupt and discriminatory enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice, the IRS and other government agencies to silence enemies of the administration, by 1.1 million legal immigrants per year, mostly from the Third World, who will vote Dem 2/1+, by refusing to enforce immigration laws and allowing millions more illegal immigrants into the country for eventual amnesty, by regionalism, by Agenda 21 which has been in effect adopted by most planning departments around the country, by undermining the family, by undermining religion, by multiculturalism, and more broadly by taking away the “why” of America.

    While there was Ronald Reagan and the Reps sometimes governed in America and California, the inexorable trend over the last 50+ years was to the left. Extrapolate the trends of the last 50 years, economic, political, cultural and moral, for another 10, 20, 30 years. What will the Leftist “fundamentally transformed” America be like?

    The Left wants to win the next election, but they are at least as focused on winning the next generation.

    “The greatest threat facing America is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation.”
    “A society does not survive if it does not have a reason to survive.”
    “Where there a why, there is a how.”
    “We have lost the why.”
    Dennis Prager

    “Culture is upstream of politics.” Andrew Breitbart

    “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” Ronald Reagan

    Reply this comment
  14. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 12 February, 2014, 08:42

    Quite profound….here is a good one.

    Conservative talking points and $1.35 get you a cup of coffee!

    Reply this comment

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