Postmortem on the mayor’s race

Created: 14 February, 2014
Last update: 27 July, 2022


Despite all the polls that predicted a close race and the hyper-enthusiasm surrounding the David Alvarez campaign, highlighted with the endorsement by President Obama, the race was not even close. It began with the early mail in returns that had Kevin Faulconer up by 14 percentage points, a lead he would not relinquish. Faulconer won the mayor’s race with 54.53% voter advantage to Alvarez’ 45.47%

This race will be analyzed over the next couple of weeks as to what went wrong for Alvarez and right for Faulconer. In Republican circles, many see big things in the future for this new Republican mayor, the only Republican mayor of a major city.

In looking at the Alvarez campaign, it is not that difficult to see where the hurdles lay, hurdles he was not able to overcome!

The first and probably his biggest hurdle that Alvarez faced was the fact that outside of the district that he represented, District 8, he was a virtual unknown. This was reflected in the fact that as you go north of I-8 the numbers were overwhelmingly in favor of Faulconer. Naturally, south of I-8 the numbers swing in favor of Alvarez, but with that said, Faulconer made some inroads in those areas.

The problem with this voting pattern is that north of I-8 you have higher voter registration numbers and a much better voter turnout than in the South end of the city. Taking a cursory look at the voter turnout, it looks like in the north you are hovering around a 50% voter turnout and South of I-8 you are looking at about 30% voter turnout. Overall 37.79% of the total voters came out.

The second biggest problem facing Alvarez was his lack of practical experience as a politician and lack of a business background. Despite the dollar advantage Alvarez had over Faulconer he was unable to address these issues, which was due in part to the fact that almost all of the money spent on his behalf was spent by the Unions attacking Faulconer. In the meantime, we saw many news and photo clips of Alvarez riding a bike as he focused on his bike to work and bike to school ideas, for example, which did not exactly resonate with the middle-class working person.

Lastly, the Alvarez campaign lived and died with the Union support. The Unions spent roughly $5 million dollars trying to get Alvarez elected, plus all the paid and volunteer union workers who came in to support his campaign. The money and Union support was necessary, without it Alvarez would not have run. The problem was that Alvarez had no other base of support and that limited his appeal, it painted him into a corner as the Union’s candidate. Alvarez did have the Democratic Party support, as evidence by all the out of town Democratic politicians that came to San Diego in support, environmentalist support, and progressives, but in reality, it was all about the Union support.

The good news is that the David Alvarez campaign did excite the Hispanic voters, not only in San Diego, but also in National City, Chula Vista, and beyond. His campaign made national news and dozens of articles were written about the possibility of San Diego having its first Hispanic mayor, and the Hispanic vote was highlighted as a real force in this election.

Hispanics got together and held fundraisers, walked precincts, and worked to get out the vote, all positive steps as we move towards self-determination and an organized movida towards political accountability and empowerment.

Self-determination and political empowerment is social change that does not happen over night or with one election. This change is a long drawn out process that has a historical backdrop and many steps need to be taken toward the ultimate goals.

The Alvarez campaign for mayor was just one more step in this long process towards social change as the Hispanic community continues to grow in numbers and political maturity. The future for David Alvarez is bright and we look forward to him taking advantage of this newfound personal momentum, as the Hispanic community continues to build on its self-awareness and moves towards self-determination!