Republican wins San Diego mayoral special election

As my good friend Andrew Malcolm wrote when he sent me the link to this story, “Wouldn’t that be a nice trend to write about?” Indeed it would, but I’ll settle for this surprise (and rare) victory for California Republicans in San Diego, where the GOP won a special mayoral election in the wake of Democratic scandal:

Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer has defeated Democratic Councilman David Alvarez, 54.5% to 45.5%, to become the city’s next mayor, according to unofficial results tallied by the county registrar of voters.

The tally includes all absentee votes and votes from all 582 precincts. Unofficial turnout for the special election was 37%.

That’s a big turnout for a special election in a municipal race, which means that the usual caveats about odd turnout models probably don’t apply. The decisive margin of victory might come as a surprise, too, especially against a young Democrat considered an up-and-comer in the party.

He’ll get to fill out the final 33 months of the term won initially by former Democratic Rep. Bob Filner, who resigned in disgrace after a string of sexual harassment allegations were made public. The ex-mayor is now serving a home-detention sentence for criminal abuse convictions. Filner left the city in a mess from a management point of view as well, which means Faulconer has his work cut out for him.

Will this be a trend? Actually, San Diego had been a Republican-leaning municipality before Filner; seven of the previous ten mayors had been Republican. The question will be whether Filner turns out to be a hiccup on Democratic progress in gaining control of the city, or a hiccup in the traditional trust San Diego voters put in the GOP. It would be nice if Republicans were even this competitive in other major urban centers, but perhaps Faulconer can set an example that will boost those chances in the future.