In the time honored post-election tradition, here are San Diego’s big winners and losers from the election (with absentee and provisional ballots still to count). For every winner, there is usually a loser, but I’ve tried to distinguish between which is which. I know its been two weeks since the election, but I got violently ill right after (the most vile flu you could ever imagine) and am only just recovering.
WINNER – CONGRESSMAN BRIAN BILBRAY (CD50). Three weeks out public and private tracking polls had Brian Bilbray (disclosure Coronado Communications client) winning or losing within the margin of error, and national trends weren’t getting any better. Democrat Francine Busby had actually saved hundreds of thousands of dollars from her failed June campaign, and was therefore actually able to outspend Bilbray. However, Bilbray ran a disciplined campaign – and probably the strongest and most effective ground campaign in his history – and ended up 54% – 43%. Furthermore Bilbray made great strides in repairing his GOP base, which had been divided by the earlier primary campaigns. A primary challenge to Bilbray, always a possibility, is going to be considerably tougher for even a self-funder now.
LOSER – PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS/LABOR COUNCIL. For the last year or so, San Diego’s Labor Council has taken several blows to the nose, and have landed very few if any punches themselves. Last year they lost the San Diego Mayor’s race. A few months later they lost working control of the San Diego City Council. In the Special Election a few months later they lost the 50th Congressional. In the June Primary they failed to mount a significant challenge to vulnerable council seats, and again lost the 50th Congressional. On Tuesday they took another series of nasty losses. They fought against Mayor Sanders Reform Initiatives "B" Retirement Benefits & "C" Contracting Out Services and were routed 70.30%/29.70% and 61.13%/38.87%. They lost the Chula Vista Mayor’s race in a route 55%/45%. After spending a ton of money, and assuming the votes hold they got bounced out of the majority in Oceanside. On top of all that they lost the 50th Congressional, again, and got trounced in the 78th Assembly District. Ouch.
WINNER – SAN DIEGO MAYOR JERRY SANDERS & REFORM. Actually, I guess it’s actually ultimately San Diego City taxpayers one could argue who are won with Reform Propositions B & C (Retirement Benefits and Outsourcing/Tom Sheppard). Mayor Sanders and the reformers continue to build momentum, while the public employee unions ably demonstrated that just throwing a fireman up on TV – no matter how big his mustache – does not assure victory at this time. The real question now is whether or not the Mayor and Council will have the will to make the hard decisions to actually fix the system rather than trying to run out the clock on their terms without real change, or hoping for an economic boom to fill the coffers.
LOSER – PROPOSITION A. Note to City Fathers: The 62%-34% royal asswhipping in this race isn’t just a nail in the coffin of a future Miramar Airport, its a tub of Superglue and three dozen wood screws. It’s done. Over. Kaput. Finished. And expect the Airport Authority to be neutered in Sacramento this year, which means no more taxpayer funded slushfund for "public relations" firms.
WINNER – ASSEMBLYWOMAN SHIRLEY HORTON. Another embarrassing defeat for the Democrat Party and their labor allies. See, Assemblywoman Horton (disclosure Coronado Communications client) is one of the few Republicans in the nation who actually wins largely black precincts. That matters in a race which is decided by an eyelash every other year. So the Democrats figured a black candidate, Maxine Sherard, should be able to take those votes away. This does not appear to have been the case. To Sherard’s detriment her campaign faced what was probably the tightest organization in California, led by manager Steve Puetz (it’s not too often a Republican comes into the last 30 days of an election in an urban district with over 1,000 Democrat endorsements and half as many "Another Democrat for Shirley Horton" yard signs). The Sherard ‘organization’ was outmanned, outclassed, and outworked at every level at every step of the game. Rumor in Sacramento is that the Democrat leadership does not want Sherard to run again in 2008, and that if she does they would be willing to spend money against her. How’s that for friends?
LOSER – STEVE PADILLA (Chula Vista Mayor). Heavy handed Democrat Mayor Steve Padilla and his labor allies got handed their lunches (55%/45%) by School Board member Cheryl Cox (Castanares), the San Diego Lincoln Club (Coronado Communications), and the San Diego Republican Party (Tom Sheppard). Chula Vista, contrary to popular belief, is now evenly split between Republicans and Democrats once turnout is considered. And it’s only moving towards the GOP with new construction in the east. With Padilla out the door there is one remaining Democrat Mayor in San Diego County.
WINNER – SAN DIEGO REPUBLICAN PARTY/TONY KRVARIC. Another round of victories for the local Republican Party. San Diego may have been the only place in the nation that actually had a Republican tide on Election Day — due in part to the tremendous turnout effort of the local organization and what I thought was one hell of an AV program from Victory 06. Particular kudos to GOP Secretary Tony Krvaric who proved himself in the heat of battle to be a calm, organized, and practical decision maker and a strong fund-raiser.
LOSER – SAN DIEGO DEMOCRAT PARTY. See "LOSER – PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS/LABOR COUNCIL" above. While the Republican Party has its constituent coalitions, the local Democrat Party has become mere constituent coalition of big labor. Seriously guys, it’s embarrassing when the Democratic Club (a largely gay organization) has more actual muscle than the Democrat Party.
WINNER – SAN DIEGO LINCOLN CLUB. Remember Chula Vista Democrat Mayor Steve Padilla, mentioned above? It was largely the San Diego Lincoln Club who put the smackdown on him. My guess is by the end of the campaign old Padilla was dreading the local postman. Executive Director Chris Niemeyer and the Lincoln Club Board of Directors have done a great job over the past few years really putting the organization back on the map… and while some folks are nervous that the newly formed New Majority in San Diego will steal the Lincoln Club’s thunder, I think there is room for both to grow and prosper.
LOSER – MIKE HAAS. San Diego Registrar of Voters Mike Haas ran another error riddled, downright embarrassing election. His absolute inability to conduct a campaign that befits a banana republic, let alone one of the most educated, high tech regions in the world, is a clear indication that San Diego County’s Republican Board of Supervisors needs to do more Supervising and less taking care of an old crony. And let’s be clear – I’m not complaining about the staff of the Registrar of Voters, many of whom have been extremely critical of Haas. This fish rots from the head… and I’m going to spend the next year making sure folks start noticing the stink.
WINNER – JIM DESMOND. The new Mayor of San Marcos is Republican Jim Desmond. He defeated long-time Mayor Corky Smith, who was part of the ‘build it’ voting block. Desmond ran a strong campaign, and I think he will be an energetic leader. The Party and elected Republicans backed Smith out of long-term loyalty. My guess is there is no reason everyone can’t kiss and make up.
LOSER – OCEANSIDE’S GANG OF THREE. For the past couple of years Oceanside – a largely Republican city – has been run by a coalition of three lefty labor union lickspittles. Thus, massive pay and pension increases for government employees, and very little concern for the taxpayer. This time around labor spent a large pot of money in an attempt to broaden their majority to four. Instead, the Republican Party and a coalition of business interests intervened and knocked the labor coalition down to two – one of which will almost certainly be defeated next time around. For the first time in a decade a coalition of three reform minded Republicans have the majority and big labor is on the defense. Big loss for the unions – huge victory for the GOP.
WINNER – LORENA GONZALEZ. Imagine my shock and dismay when I read in the Union-Tribune that Lorena Gonzalez, a former aide to Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamonte who narrowly lost the million dollar ‘battleground’ 2nd San Diego City Council District race in January 2006, had gone to work for the local Labor Council as political director. During the campaign Gonzalez was pretty clear about her independence from the labor bosses who are working overtime to fight Mayor Jerry Sander’s reform movement, so perhaps she had a change of heart. Well, anyway, Lorena, congratulations – it’s a pretty decent springboard into partisan Democrat politics. Rumors are fairly rampant that Gonzalez is interested in running for the largely Democrat 76th Assembly District whenever Democrat Assemblywoman Lori Saldana terms out or leaves of her own accord. Frankly, and its not like Gonzalez and I have high tea with her at the Westgate on Sundays or anything, Gonzalez is a liberal but she’s a far cry from the kind of extremism Saldana represents. I get the feeling from my short (unpleasant) interactions with Gonzalez that when you ask her what 2 + 2 is, she’ll answer 4 at least most of the time. I’ve only had one (unpleasant) interaction with Saldana, but I have the notion that if you were to ask her the same question the answer might well be "apple" or "Nevada" or anything else buzzing around in that beehive of a brain she’s got going on.
LOSER – COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SUSAN HARTLEY. I’m going to start handing out awards early this year. Here in San Diego 1rst place in the "Worst Political Move of the Year" goes to County School Board member Susan Hartley. Loyal readers of the Flashreport might remember Hartley from previous posts. A registered Republican, she has a long history of publicly opposing Republican reforms and supporting Democrats for office. She’s so far over the line that in her last election the local Republican Party – hardly a reactionary body – refused to endorse her. As did the Lincoln Club.Even after this behavior there were some – all be it few – Republicans willing to defend her behavior. After all, they argued, she mostly got involved in nonpartisan races and matters of public policy. It’s not like she endorsed partisan Democrats, after all. Well, this season old Susan crossed the Rubicon by not only endorsing Democrat Francine Busby over Republican Brian Bilbray, but actually attacking Bilbray in the mail. Now even Hartley’s residual supporters are busy calling and emailing around looking for a method of getting rid of Hartley… or at least making her so damn miserable she changes partisan affiliation or retires.