Across the county, candidates and their supporters will be on pins and needles tonight until they either get some closure or the alcohol sets in. There are many narratives I have not been able to follow as closely as I’d like in places like Chula Vista. They may be more interesting but I just haven’t fit them in my bandwidth.
So here are the five dramas I’ll be paying closest attention to as the election results come in starting at 8 p.m. tonight.
No. 5: How well does Steve Danon do in the race to replace County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price?
Danon has been running for this spot for years now, before Slater-Price even decided to retire. Slater-Price’s political consultant, Tom Shepard, took up Danon’s case and he’s almost been running as an incumbent. But can he win outright? He’ll need 50 percent of the vote. Solana Beach Democrat Dave Roberts and conservative Carl Hilliard from Del Mar will likely force Danon to keep running until November.
No. 4: Does Proposition A pass?
The measure to ban the city of San Diego from requiring project labor agreements on city projects was flying under the radar until the last couple of months. I bet a small fraction of voters actually understand even just the basics of it. And that means the campaigns and money spent on it matters immensely.
Organized labor looks like it held back on Proposition B, but it went all in opposing Proposition A.
A similar measure to Proposition A, but for the county of San Diego, carried almost all precincts in the county, including those in the city. So it would stand to reason that it had a good chance of passing in the city.
But labor and allies, led by Councilwoman Donna Frye, have organized well against it. I think it will be close (I’m often wrong).
If you’d like to understand Proposition A better, here are our five-steps to understanding it.
No. 3: Does anyone win a council seat outright (besides Mark Kersey and Todd Gloria)?
A couple of weeks ago, after lunch at the University Club, I saw Mark Kersey walk in with Mayor Jerry Sanders. They told me he was getting a briefing.
Kersey managed to run unopposed for the City Council seat being vacated by Carl DeMaio. The district is made up of Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch and the San Pasqual Valley.
So Kersey will win outright tonight. Congratulations. He’s going to have several months for briefings like the one with the mayor and calm preparation.
Likewise, incumbent Todd Gloria has no one facing him and will be granted a second term on the City Council.
Now, the best chance for someone else to win outright is in District 7 where either Scott Sherman or Mat Kostrinsky may make it to 50 percent. While Democrat Sherri Lightner is popular among many in District 1, she will have a tough time getting to 50 percent tonight. Labor has made things difficult for her, and progressive animal rights activist Brian Pease may pull just enough support to keep her from 50 percent setting up a November showdown between Lightner and Republican philanthropist Ray Ellis.
No. 2: Does Scott Peters advance in the congressional race?
This is Scott Peters’ second attempt at elected office since he left his position as president of the San Diego City Council. He likely remembers all too well what it’s like not to advance out of a primary. In 2008, he came pretty far from second place.
Progressive former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña has trotted out all the arguments that will haunt Peters for many years to come. He’s rich. He was one of the horrible votes in 2002 that both boosted employee pensions and underfunded the employee pension system at the city.
But he addressed those issues more clearly than he did when he tried to run for city attorney and he dumped more than a million dollars of his own money into the race.
Did he do enough to make it into the final election with Republican Brian Bilbray? The district is more friendly to Democrats this year but hardly a given. It’s subject to national waves and resource distribution from parties in Washington.
No. 1: Who gets the second spot in the mayor’s race?
San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is very likely to get one of the two spots available for the fall general election for mayor. And this is what I’m assuming.
So who goes with him? This to me is the drama of all dramas tonight. It not only has major political implications that will reverberate across the state and country, but it will change the city likely forever no matter how it goes. On top of that, it’s a dramatic personal and character-driven story as well.
Bob Filner, the Democrat and congressman, has a great opportunity to advance. But even he has acknowledged this campaign has not been going well for him. He underestimated Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, he said. Luckily for him, as he pointed out, he has a great weapon working for him: DeMaio.
DeMaio has relentlessly pummeled Fletcher. So determined is DeMaio to keep Fletcher from advancing to the general election that, if Fletcher somehow makes it, it will be a major disappointment to DeMaio. He’ll be disappointed even if he comes in first place by a long shot.
No matter who advances, it will have profound significance beyond San Diego. If Filner advances, we’ll have a classic, old-left-versus-new-right contest. It will attract national attention. DeMaio wants nothing short of transformational change in the way the city handles its employees and employee groups nationwide do not want to see him setting precedents.
Filner’s lousy campaigning will not be tolerated by the folks who want him to win. It will be a big deal.
Now, if Fletcher advances, it will be a different kind of rupture nationally. The Republican and Democratic parties will face an existential crisis. He’ll have a good chance of winning the general election and all while not being a part of either party. A new powerful coalition of interests could align behind either a new party or new movement.
With California’s new primary system for state and federal races, an independent candidate no longer has to compete in Democratic or Republican primary contests. Important people will take Fletcher’s lead and eschew the parties.
The parties do not want to see this happen.
I can’t say it any better than reader Oscar Ramos did here. If powerful people and interests are able to set up a new infrastructure to compete with the two parties, that’s got big consequences statewide.
But even though Fletcher raised a lot of money, he’ll need a major surge today. Filner and DeMaio have very ably framed him as an opportunist. Filner’s done better in the last couple weeks to get the word out that he’s the Democrat.
Watch tonight for the initial results to come out at 8 p.m.
I’ve seen big leads dissolve away after that first batch comes out, which includes the mail-in ballots the registrar has been collecting for several weeks now. I remember Mike Aguirre in 2004. Running for city attorney, and confident of victory, he planned a late press conference. But as his lead evaporated, he disappeared, ultimately ending up in Yuma.
He squeaked by victorious but not without some nervous moments.
If Fletcher’s close after those first returns are released, it will be a long, interesting night. If he’s not, he’ll have a lot of time to reflect on the bet he made on himself and what he lost because of it.
I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of voiceofsandiego.org. Please contact me if you’d like at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):
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