“After the Election”
By Judi Curry
The Point Loma Democrats tried a new format for their regularly scheduled meeting, Sunday, Nov. 24th. It was, without a doubt, one of the best, if not the best, meeting held this year. It was standing room only.
Three panelists were invited to participate in a “What Now?” discussion of the special election held earlier this week for the mayor of San Diego. The panelists, all well known in their own right were:
- Wendy Fry, from the NBC 7 I-team;
- Daniel Munoz, editor of La Prenza, San Diego;
- Dr. John Warren from the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint,
- and Andy Cohen, from our very own San Diego Free Press.
- The moderator was Patrick Schultheis.
Patrick began the discussion with a fast over-view of the election, with the panelists bringing up the following points:
The race was never about the first place finisher, but rather who would be in the second place position for the final election in February.
It is interesting to note that Kevin Falconer is a Republican, David Alvarez and Mike Aguirre are known Democrats, and Nathan Fletcher was, last year, a Republican turned Independent, turned Democrat. Even though this was a non-partisan position, there was no question that Republican’s would vote for Falconer while the other three would probably split the Democratic vote.
It should also be noted that there were other candidates running but they received a very small percentage of votes. Alvarez received more votes than Fletcher, and he will be the one running against Falconer in February.
Even though the race was fairly civilized, a great deal of money was spent by the conservative “Lincoln Club” to throw negative vibes on Fletcher. The underlying reasons are that the conservative group felt that Falconer will have an easier time of defeating Alvarez than Fletcher in the upcoming second round of the Special Election. However this may have backfired and only time will tell.
It is estimated that of the Lincoln Club ads sent out 95% were negative, and they did everything they could to discredit Fletcher. For example, it was pointed out by Dr. Warren that in one ad that was entitled “Who Do You Trust”, the word “Trust” was directly over Alvarez’ head, thus giving the reader the opinion that Alvarez could be trusted over Fletcher. Unfortunately, negative ads do work and they did their best to make sure that Fletcher was seen in a negative way.
Mr. Munoz said he was surprised at the outcome of the race. He felt that when a Latino runs against a Caucasian candidate, the Caucasian candidate usually comes out the winner. Obviously this was not the case in this election. He said that there were two strong Democratic candidates running, but there was some skepticism about Fletcher’s motives for running.
It was mentioned that probably Todd Gloria, the acting Mayor of San Diego, probably gave unexpected help to Fletcher by decisions made on the council.
It was pointed out that Alvarez was not going to run for Mayor of San Diego originally. But as things developed following the resignation of Bob Filner, he was encouraged more and more to run for the office. He held back in making his decision until after Fletcher and Falconer were in the race. It was pointed out that it was like watching a chess game, but the focus was more on the pieces on the chess board than on the game itself.
In asking who the audience thought would win the election, most people said they thought it would be Alvarez.
One of the panelists – Ms. Fry – stated that Falconer received 46% of the vote. She did not think that those that supported Fletcher and/or Aguirre would go over to the Falconer side; rather they would vote for Alvarez.
The feeling is that Falconer will take the city back to the moneyed groups that ran the city before Filner was elected.
It is up to the Democratic party in San Diego to get the Democrats out to vote. It was pointed out that in elections of this sort the Republican’s cast more ballots, even thought there are more Democrats registered in San Diego, and many independents.
Falconer cannot win solely on big business; he will have to carry the labor vote as well, and he may not be able to do this. The fact that Alvarez won the south county vote while Falconer won the north of highway 5/8 vote means that Alvarez is going to have to campaign inthose neighborhoods he didn’t win and present a better picture than Falconer. And, obviously, if Falconer is to win he will need to do the same in the areas that he lost. Mr. Munoz pointed out that even if there is a Latino running for office, the turn-out of voters is small.
Dr. Warren made a wonderful comparison of the campaign strategy and the finished package. He cited the “Pet Rock” craze of many years ago. By the time their campaign was over, EVERYONE either had or wanted a Pet Rock. Millions of money was made in the pet rock craze because the package was so well developed. That is what needs to happen here. Alvarez needs to be presented as a nicely wrapped package that everyone want to see successful.
Andy Cohen pointed out that one of the problems with Aguirre’s program was that every third word he talked about the problem of pensions. He said he would fix the pension problem, but he never said how he was going to do that.
Alvarez talks about the neighborhoods and what can be done to fix them, and has presented several important factors about improvement. However, there are many other things necessary to address in this campaign.
Questions about the ship yards are still prevalent; that are some blatant lies being told re: this issue. There seem to be racial undertones that are not quite at the surface but may break at any time.
It appears that Falconer is not quick to make decisions and usually waits to see which way the wind is blowing before he makes his views known. He frequently has had the same opinions as Carl DeMaio, and this does not bode well for San Diego.
It was also pointed out that in a dirty campaign if nothing is amiss that does not stop opponents from stating untruths. (Look at the Lincoln Club campaign.)
All of the panelists agreed that the most important aspect of this race is to get the Democratic voters to the polls. There is a very good chance that Alvarez can be elected and carry on with the progressive agenda that San Diego voted for last year. But unless the voters utilize their voting rights, we may be doomed for many more years of the old status quo – the old status quo that was challenged in 2012 election.