Of all the interesting local races leading up to Tuesday’s election, there was one that had caught my eye.

It was in Imperial Beach, population: 27,563.

There, Rancho Santa Fe resident Kourosh Hangafarin spent a reported $230,000 running for mayor. He had mega ads in The San Diego Union-Tribune. He even ran a television ad. It was an amazingly prolific play for the top City Hall job in such a small town.

Hangafarin was already an interesting guy. He had gotten booted from the Port Commission after a weird imbroglio over a trip to Cuba.

Now, more than a year later, Hangafarin wanted to get back into an official capacity. He spent more than 20 times his rivals in the race for IB mayor.

He lost.

He received 661 votes.

IB City Councilman Jim Janney won the race with 1,748 votes.

Big spenders have not had much luck in recent local elections. Steve Francis, the chairman of AMN Healthcare spent $2 million trying to win the mayor’s seat in the city of San Diego after former Mayor Dick Murphy resigned. He came in third in the primary – barely unable to catch the well-known former police chief, Jerry Sanders, who later won.

Phil Thalheimer, the owner of a flight school, tried to unseat City Councilman Scott Peters in the 2004 race to represent District 1 in San Diego. He spent more than $1 million of his own money and lost after forcing a runoff election.

But back to Hangafarin. The guy spent $230,000 and got 661 votes. That’s $348 per vote.

How does that compare:

Well, let’s take Francis. He spent $2 million last year and got 62,500 votes. That’s $32 per vote.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, this year, spent an estimated $42 million. He received 3,867,942 votes – about $11 a vote.

The Union-Tribune reported that Janney, who won the IB mayor’s race, spent about $12,000, or about $7 per vote.

SCOTT LEWIS

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