Last night’s tightest race saw some clarity this morning with David Alvarez expanding his lead and Felipe Hueso pulling into the runoff position in San Diego City Council District 8.
Alvarez, a staffer for Democratic state Sen. Denise Ducheny, overcame the better name recognition of the well-known Hueso and Inzunza political families to finish first with 23.72 percent of the vote.
Alvarez courted support from the city’s fire and white-collar unions and raised more money than the other candidates. He began the race at a disadvantage against Hueso, who is aiming to replace his brother Ben in the District 8 seat, and Nick Inzunza, the uncle of former District 8 Councilman Ralph Inzunza.
“The paradigm for that district for years and years and years has been family loyalty,” said political consultant John Kern. “Guess what? Hard work means something.”
Alvarez began the night in the lead and it expanded as the evening continued. The race for second place couldn’t have been closer. Around midnight, just six votes separated second from fourth place with Hueso jockeying with Inzunza and B.D. Howard, a former City Council staffer who drew praise for walking the district.
Howard now stands in third, 199 votes behind Hueso. He said the election wasn’t over yet. All of the district’s precincts are counted, but 160,000 absentee and provisional ballots remain outstanding county-wide.
“I’m not conceding anything,” Howard said.
Hueso’s camp believes he’s made it to the November runoff.
“I think the numbers will change a little bit, but not by 200,” said Jake O’Neill, Hueso’s campaign manager.
A general election between Alvarez and Hueso should be an interesting fight. Hueso threatened to sue Alvarez over a negative mailer earlier in the campaign. Hueso still hadn’t decided if he was going to file a suit over it, O’Neill said.
An endorsement from organized labor umbrella group, San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council could play a role, too. Though the two city unions backed Alvarez in the primary, the Labor Council didn’t make a choice. The Labor Council has long backed Hueso’s brother, Ben.
Also, as I noted yesterday, Alvarez lives on the same street in Logan Heights where Hueso grew up and his mother still lives.
Turnout in last night’s race was low. Based on current results, just 17.9 percent of District 8’s registered voters cast ballots in the election, the lowest of any of the four City Council districts that held primaries.
— LIAM DILLON