San Diego Elects Republican to Replace Bob Filner

February 12, 2014

11:06 p.m. PST: Faulconer’s lead narrows very slightly, to just under 10 points, 55.24% to 44.76%, with 85.9% of precincts counting. It’s not just a win for the Republican: it’s an unexpected landslide victory. The San Diego Union-Tribune has called the race for Faulconer. Cue the concession/acceptance speeches.

10:37 p.m. PST: With 62.9% of the precincts reporting, and the gap steady at nearly 11 points, Breitbart News can call the race for Mayor of San Diego for Republican Kevin Faulconer over Democrat David Alvarez. The unofficial tally provided by San Diego County is 55.39% for Faulconer, and 44.61% for Alvarez. That translates into a lead of nearly 25,000 votes. There is no way that Alvarez will close that gap tonight.

The much-vaunted ground game of the Democrats–which included advertising across the border in Tijuana, Mexico–was not enough to close the gap, despite a union-fueled fundraising edge. An important GOP win.

10:25 p.m. PST: Democrat David Alvarez reportedly told supporters: “We have a long night ahead of us.” They certainly do. They have to make up a 14-point gap in the remaining precincts–and half of the vote was cast early or absentee. There is almost no way Republican Kevin Faulconer can be defeated at this point.

10:10 p.m. PST: The latest results, with 20% of the precincts reporting, are essentially unchanged. The GOP candidate holds a 13-point lead. The race should be called for the Republican shortly. The story coming out of this election is going to be how Republicans managed to out-organize the Democrats despite being at a slight money disadvantage, building an insurmountable lead in early voting and outpacing Alvarez on the ground.

10:05 p.m. PST: Former Republican mayor Jerry Sanders just called the election for Faulconer, according to local Fox affiliate Fox 5 KSWB-TV. It would be more significant if a Democrat had called the race that way.

10:00 p.m. PST: While we wait for more results, an interesting subplot to this race has been the so-called “dog whistle” debate–the accusation, by now routine, that Republicans used subliminal racism to turn out all the white racists in San Diego to vote against the Hispanic Democrat. One Latino group complained that a mailing with Alvarez’s face photoshopped onto a man’s body holding a wad of cash and (separately) holding his hands up in a “stop” gesture (a “gang sign”?), the Republicans were guilty of “dog whistle” racism.

Amazingly, the group’s leaders admitted that the mailing did not appear racist–you needed the spin to see it:’s Refugio Mata said this is an example of dog whistle racism. That is the kind of racism that plays on coded messages to drum up hidden and underlying stereotypes.

Mata said in the day and age of political correctness, this kind of racism is the most insidious. “This kind of dog whistle tactic is even more perverse than overt racism. Because when you look at it, you might at first not think that it’s racist, ” he said.

9:50 p.m. PST: With nearly 6% of precincts reporting, the gap has widened slightly. Local public radio station KPBS suggests that Faulconer’s early lead in early voting is far larger than expected and that the Republican is poised to win. 

There is considerable disappointment in the Alvarez camp–and among those who looked forward to this election heralding a permanent demographic shift in local politics. KPBS’s Sandhya Dirks and Claire Trageser quote UC San Diego political scientist Thad Kousser:

“It’s over,” he said. “I don’t think David Alvarez will be the first Latino mayor of San Diego, but I think Faulconer will be the last white one.

“It’s going to get closer, but I don’t think he’s going to get within striking distance.”

8:45 p.m. PST: With 1.6% of the precincts counted, Faulconer holds a significant lead over Alvarez, 56.64% to 43.36%, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. As more precincts report, the real test will begin.

8:00 p.m. PST: The polls are closed in San Diego, and the first results are available in the race to replace disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, who had been the first Democrat in many years to hold the office. Republican Kevin Faulconer had a slight edge in the polls over Democrat David Alvarez heading into Election Day, and was expected to have a lead among early and absentee ballots. Alvarez, however, had put together an impressive and well-funded turnout operation. The race will hinge on the respective ground game of the two candidates.


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