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Duane Dichiara

San Diego Mayoral Race

In the 1990’s, voter registration trends, the rise of public employee unions, and internal party conflicts played havoc with the traditional lock Republicans had on San Diego City Hall. By 2003 only two of the city’s eight council seats and the mayor’s office were held by by the GOP. With the resignation of Republican Mayor Dick Murphy in 2005 and the “strong mayor” system of city government enacted by initiative starting in 2006 the public employee unions and Democrats believe the time is ripe for the election of Donna Frye, a liberal Democrat. But the fortunes of the GOP in the City of San Diego are not as low as they might appear at first glance. First, four of the city’s eight council seats are actually naturally Republican – Democrats are holding two seats that will probably move into the Republican column when term limits kick in for the sitting incumbents. The losses occurred in the period after the rise of the public employee unions and before the awakening and reorganization of the local business community and the San Diego Republican Party. Second, while the GOP does not have the registration edge it once enjoyed, self identified conservatives far outnumber self identified liberals. In short, San Diego is still a center-right city. Third, this election will be fought on Republican homeground – fiscal and ethical reform. San Diego has only had one Democrat Mayor (after the last major corruption scandal) and she served but a single term. Don’t look for Donna Frye to double the number of Democrat mayors San Diego has had.