Former councilman David Alvarez in 2018. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Former Councilman David Alvarez has won the special election for the 80th Assembly District, defeating former Councilwoman Georgette Gómez while setting up a rematch against her in November.

Alvarez holds a 12-point lead over his former colleague and friend, with him taking 56.14 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. Late Tuesday, Alvarez essentially declared victory in a series of Tweets.

Wednesday morning, the Registrar estimated that it had 250,000 uncounted ballots in its possession. If those ballots come from voters in the 80th Assembly District at the same rate as already-counted ballots, Gómez would need to win 60 percent of the remainder after she has taken just 43.8 percent of ballots so far.

“The voters spoke loud and clear: they want to see real change in California and that is what I will fight for in the Assembly,” Alvarez wrote on Twitter.

He touted a broad coalition of support across ethnicities, political parties and special interest groups for putting him in office.

“I am proud that I ran a positive, unifying campaign,” Alvarez wrote. That campaign, largely through outside groups, got nasty enough in the closing weeks that Gómez told Voice that it had ended her friendship with Alvarez.

Alvarez’s victory in the special election means he’ll complete the term vacated by former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who resigned earlier this year to lead the California Labor Federation.

But Tuesday’s election also included the primary race to represent the 80th Assembly District in a full term beginning in January. In November, Alvarez and Gómez will face off again for that term, after they finished atop a four-candidate field Tuesday.

Gómez came in first in that race, besting Alvarez by nearly four points as of Wednesday morning, but the other two candidates in the race were both Republicans. Together, those candidates took 33 percent of the vote Tuesday, making the November runoff a competition about who can win more of those voters, and who can win more of the new voters who show up for a general election.

Alvarez, and third-party groups supporting him, made a more concerted appeal to moderate and conservative voters than Gómez. He stressed his commitment to protecting South Bay communities from increasing crime and his promise to “change” a Sacramento that has a Democratic supermajority and a Democratic governor. Gómez won the primary in the special election, before Alvarez won the general after the Republican in the primary did not appear on Tuesday’s ballot. The Republican Party of San Diego County itself spent money telling registered Republicans to vote against Gómez. Alvarez would also have the boost in the general election of being listed as an assemblyman on the ballot.

But Gómez – if her donors and supporters contest the runoff as strenuously as they did the special election – could see a lift from increased turnout in the fall. Turnout for the primary is expected to come in at about 34 percent, leading to an electorate that is whiter, older and richer than California as a whole.

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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1 Comment

  1. That gives Gomez 5 months to come up with a better answer to why she evaded income taxes by not declaring her salary as income. While her term was indeed forgettable,
    “I forgot I was employed” ain’t gonna cut it with the IRS.

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