What Faulconer Means for California Republicans

What Faulconer Means for California Republicans

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Kevin Faulconer speaks to reporters at his campaign headquarters on Election Day.

It started long before the votes were even counted.

“But should Faulconer win, he would immediately become – for a party badly in need of a fresh image – a potential candidate for governor, senator or other statewide office,” wrote the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters.

It’s only ramped up in the aftermath of Republican Kevin Faulconer’s crushing nine-point victory over Democrat David Alvarez Tuesday night.

The New York Times wrote that Faulconer’s win, “raises the possibility that the 47-year-old former public relations executive could become an important leader in the efforts to rebuild the Republican Party in California.”

And why not? Faulconer has made San Diego the largest city in America with a Republican mayor. California has no statewide Republican elected officials and controls less than a third of the state Legislature. Faulconer won in a race where national and local labor unions spent more than $4 million to defeat him and President Barack Obama weighed in to endorse his opponent. No wonder the California GOP’s website looked like this Wednesday morning:

California Republican Party Website, Feb. 12, 2014

Faulconer has instantly become one of the most prominent GOP officeholders in the state. But it’s unclear how much that actually matters for the GOP and for Faulconer’s prospects going forward.

Faulconer’s long been pro-same-sex marriage, pro-bike and pro-other issues that put him on the left of the national GOP. In this campaign, he went even further. He adopted his liberal predecessor Bob Filner’s narrative that the city’s history of moderate Republican leadership ignored the needs of the growing diverse neighborhoods in favor of downtown business.

He largely sidestepped the GOP brand – most starkly when his former spokesman objected to a story because it mentioned Faulconer’s party affiliation. John Nienstedt, Faulconer’s pollster, said it was important for Faulconer to clarify early on that he wasn’t a typical Republican.

“This information needed to come through to persuadable voters,” Nienstedt said.

And that’s what Faulconer did. Later research confirmed that voters liked Faulconer better than they did the GOP, Nienstedt said.

But Faulconer’s not likely to face the same set of circumstances that helped him stroll into the mayor’s office anytime soon.

Low-turnout affairs, like Tuesday’s election, have long favored Republicans in San Diego. But general elections that bolster turnout have typically gone the Democrats’ way.

That makes Faulconer’s 2016 re-election bid a test. Assuming Democrats can push Faulconer to a November 2016 runoff – though that’s far from assured – they’ll likely have the critical mass of voters who’ve pushed them to success in the past. But by then, Faulconer will have the power of incumbency on his side.

Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.


Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

  • 918 Posts
  • 29
    Followers

Show comments
Before you comment, read these simple guidelines on what is not allowed.

7 comments
j geary
j geary subscribermember

Living in Point Loma under the Falconer council seat reign nothing of real neighborhood infrastructure was done. He doesn't advocate any new revenue streams so how do you get anything new done except blaming the pension system. I'm sure the TOT funding to hotels will be first restored. I appealed to his office numerous times to get the mess of streets, lighting, railroad crossings in the Washington St., Pacific Highway area to no avail. He's vanilla ice cream with no toppings. We all remember the VOS article on how he was slated by the Republican power elite meeting in La Jolla, a classic, much like Daley politics in Chicago.

richard brick
richard brick subscribermember

Good luck San Diego citizens. Don't hold your breath trying to get sidewalks or pot holes in the road repaired. Your tax money will take a right turn into the pockets of the crooks that have the reins of the city finances.


If you liked the convention center expansion theft of your money, you're going to love the new Charger stadium that you are going to pay for. There will also be new CCDC , it will be called different name, but the purpose will be the same, funneling your tax money to the 1% for their pet projects. 

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen subscriber

Liam-  Faulconer's "neighborhoods" agenda was nothing more than empty rhetoric.  You're right:  He stole the whole mantra from Bob Filner and David Alvarez, but there was never any substance behind it.  His only plan was to add more police to the PD to provide an increased police presence.  His "agenda" centered almost exclusively around public safety and not investment as intended by Filner and Alvarez.


He talked a good game, and it clearly resonated.  But there was never any substance behind the talking points.

David Benz
David Benz subscriber

@richard brick You got that right.


Spanos will bribe Foulconner with promises of funding a state or national campaign for $1 billion of taxpayer money to build a new stadium.


Ignorant republicans will fall for this scam again as long as the welfare queens are white and rich.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

The Dem a Council majority will truss Faulconer like an Xmas goose.

Eric Spoerner
Eric Spoerner subscriber

@Andy Cohen  The proof will be, as they say, in the pudding.  The least we could do as good citizens is give our new mayor the benefit of the doubt for a while.


Besides, he'll be forced to compromise with the City Council, which means that the neighborhood-centric agenda is far from dead.

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen subscriber

@Jim Jones Wow, Jim.....and you were actually gullible enough to believe that nonsense?  I know you're a prolific agitator on this site, but propaganda like this is beneath even you.


The funding in question that Alvarez was talking about using in some of San Diego's poorest neighborhoods came in the form of CDBG's; federal funding that is targeted and CAN ONLY BE USED in specific, economically depressed areas.  He couldn't "take away" money from "red neighborhoods," because that money could never be used in the "red neighborhoods" in the first place.  Besides, those "red neighborhoods" didn't need that money. 


It was another one of the fantastic lies that Faulconer and the Lincoln Club used to smear Alvarez that had exactly zero basis in fact.  But hey, congratulations!  The smear tactics worked, and San Diego is worse off (and dumber) for it.


So I guess the lesson is that Kevin Faulconer does not believe in accepting federal funding to improve the lives of people in disadvantaged, economically depressed neighborhoods such as City Heights and San Ysidro.  And God forbid the City actually did something to improve the quality of life for residents of Barrio Logan.  That San Diego will cut off its nose to spite its face.