As San Diego voters go to the polls Tuesday to vote, here are five things to look for in the mayor, city attorney and City Council races:

1. Does Mayor Jerry Sanders get more than 50 percent? This one might seem obvious, but it’s the big question. Of course, it’s possible that Steve Francis or any of the other candidates could get 50 percent. But this is the question I’ve been getting asked everywhere I go for the last couple of weeks.

Francis has waged a battle on the airwaves that is unprecedented in its length and cost. Floyd Morrow’s got the Democratic Party endorsement and Eric Bidwell’s gotten a bit of publicity lately. But will that be enough to force incumbent mayor into a November runoff?

If Francis makes the runoff, the next question then becomes how much he’s willing to spend on that race.

2. Who takes on Mike Aguirre in the runoff election? This is assuming, of course, that Aguirre is one of the top-two vote-getters tomorrow. That’s not a given. However, as of late, all eyes have been on second place. This race has been pretty tame so far considering what was expected of it. Expect it to be a bit more interesting once it’s a one-on-one race.

3. How many people vote? Turnout isn’t expected to be high, and as my colleague Scott Lewis has written, that could hurt Francis. If there were, say, a presidential primary like there normally would be, the challenger’s ad barrage could’ve had even more impact, Lewis says.

4. What will the City Council look like? It will be interesting to see how many of the council races go on to the November runoff and how many are won outright Tuesday night. Regardless, there’s a lot at stake on the City Council in this election season. The four termed-out council members who oversaw the city at a time when its financial condition worsened considerably are on their way out. Among the remaining four, there are three Democrats and one Republican. How these races shake out will determine the balance for the next four years.

5. Who gets chased? Last time around, Jerry Sanders’ victory came with a big boost from what’s known as “absentee chasing,” the practice of very specifically targeting the people who absentee vote with mailers that arrive right around the time that the absentee ballots arrive in the mail.

It’s an expensive process, but as we detailed in this story, it gave the mayor a great advantage when the vote-counting started. This time around, Sanders is up against a candidate with much deeper pockets. Last time, his opponent just couldn’t afford to do it.


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