We finally made it. Election Day is upon us tomorrow. Here are some of the storylines I’ll be watching for:

Wide Open in the South Bay

No one is sure what to expect in the City Council race to represent the city’s southernmost neighborhoods, District 8. Felipe Hueso and Nick Inzunza are counting on name recognition — Hueso is the older brother of the district’s current councilman and Inzunza is the uncle of Hueso’s predecessor. But they face strong challenges from two candidates: the well-funded David Alvarez and the well-walked B.D. Howard. In a district with traditionally low voter turnout, will names, money or shoe leather win the day?

Will a Supervisor Be Pushed to a Runoff?

County Supervisors Bill Horn and Ron Roberts are on their fifth elections and like their colleagues haven’t made a habit of having elections last past June. The same five county supervisors have been in office since the Clinton administration. Since Greg Cox, the last of the five current county supervisors was first elected in 1996, only one time has a supervisor faced a general election fight — Horn’s 1998 victory over Jerry Harmon. This time, both Horn and Roberts are in danger of not meeting the primary’s 50 percent threshold, forcing an unfamiliar November election battle. Four Democrats are running against Roberts, a divide and conquer strategy, implemented after City Councilwoman Donna Frye decided not to run.

Fundraising on the Ballot

Two major campaigns that will change the structures of city and county governments have no funded opposition. Their proponents definitely do. Those in favor of the city of San Diego’s strong mayor ballot proposition and San Diego County’s supervisor term limit initiative both have raised approximately $500,000 for their campaigns. Both races will test how much money matters.

City Councilwoman Donna Frye

The city’s longest tenured council member and two-time almost mayor impacted three of Tuesday’s most closely watched races. Her last-minute decision not to run against Republican County Supervisor Ron Roberts sent local Democrats scrambling for replacement candidates. She endorsed her chief of staff, Steve Hadley, as her successor in the city’s 6th council district, but her endorsement has been a lonely one. Hadley is considered an underdog in the race against Republican pick Lorie Zapf and Democratic choice Howard Wayne. Also, Frye has been on a tear attacking strong mayor, but is going up against a well-oiled $500,000 campaign in favor.

Party Strategy

Local Republicans and Democrats have tried unorthodox tactics in two high-profile races. The Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the city challenging its campaign finance rules. A court victory allowed the party to make an unprecedented $20,000 donation to council candidate Lorie Zapf. The party’s money evened her campaign war chest with opponent Howard Wayne.

Local Democrats didn’t endorse anyone in the San Diego County race against Ron Roberts, and instead sent out mailers saying any of four diverse candidates would be a fine choice. They’re hoping to force a November runoff against one of the four.

Mayor Jerry Sanders

San Diego’s mayor has endorsed incumbent City Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Tony Young, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Sheriff Bill Gore in their elections, but the biggest election on the mayor’s plate affects him directly.

Sanders has come out big in favor of strong mayor, the proposition that would make the mayor the city’s permanent chief executive. An election loss, especially to an opposition that hasn’t raised any money, would be a stinging rebuke to the only “strong mayor” the city has ever known. A victory could be construed as somewhat of an endorsement of how he’s handled his time in office.

Labor vs. Business

Local labor unions and business interests are skirmishing over anti-union hiring ballot measures in Chula Vista and Oceanside. The Chula Vista fight has been especially antagonistic. But both races should only be previews of a labor-business battle royal expected in the city of San Diego should an aggressive outsourcing initiative make it onto November’s ballot.


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