Republican Kevin Faulconer wins big in San Diego mayoral race

If the party polarities on this story were reversed, those San Diego ballots would be portrayed as tea leaves brimming with ominous portents for the near future of the defeated Republicans.  But the Republican won in a landslide, despite a tidal wave of union money, a late endorsement of his opponent by President Obama, polls that forecast a close race only a few days ago… and the fact that he was running in San Diego, a city supposedly slipping into Democrat demographic lock, a city whose presidential vote Barack Obama captured by over 25 points just last year.

So I’m sure the media will decide this race doesn’t have any greater significance, and leave Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer to enjoy his victory in silence, before forgetting he exists.  Of course, as the Associated Press notes, the long, frigid shadow of Faulconer’s nefarious predecessor could fairly be said to have fallen across his party’s candidate… but it’s odd that didn’t show up in the polls a lot sooner.  Wouldn’t Filthy Filner have been factored in by San Diego voters long ago?

A moderate Republican city councilman has been elected mayor of San Diego in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Bob Filner, who resigned amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations.

San Diego becomes the nation’s largest city with a Republican mayor, and Kevin Faulconer will be the only Republican to lead a major city in California, where Democrats hold all statewide offices. Filner was San Diego’s first Democratic leader in 20 years.

With all precincts reporting, the two-term councilman and former public relations executive led Democratic Councilman David Alvarez by 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent.

The AP saw this as primarily an ideological campaign, which seems like it would be a rather ominous portent for Democrats, if this race had any portents – which it absolutely does not, it happened in a total vacuum, as all the experts agree:

Despite sharp ideological differences, few issues separated the candidates. Both promised more attention to neighborhood priorities like street repairs, library hours and emergency response times, putting less emphasis on ambitious civic projects like building a new City Hall and bringing a new stadium for the NFL’s Chargers.

Filner, 71, embraced the same “neighborhoods-first” mantra but the candidates scarcely mentioned the disgraced former mayor, who pleaded guilty in October to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery. The former 10-term congressman began a three-month sentence of home confinement on Jan. 1.

Faulconer alluded to the scandal when addressing supporters Tuesday night, saying, “We know that this city has gone through a lot in the last year but we knew as San Diegans we were better than that.”

Faulconer, who was backed by Filner’s two-term Republican predecessor, Jerry Sanders, played down his party affiliation. He highlighted his opposition to a 2010 ballot measure to raise the sales tax, which lost resoundingly, and his support for a 2012 measure to cut pensions for city workers, which passed overwhelmingly. Alvarez backed the losing sides.

Alvarez also supported a minimum-wage increase, which was supposed to be a silver bullet for imperiled Democrats in this year’s elections.  Jim Geraghty at National Review observes that another Alvarez misfire that might give his already nervous Democrat colleagues further reason to panic was the failure of the “vaunted Obama election model,” previously known as “dirty mud-slinging negative campaigning that panders to extremists” before Democrats decided negative campaigns are the height of civic virtue, at least when they do it.

Faulconer gets high marks from Geraghty for his ability to “reach out to independent and moderate voters with the need to practice fiscal restraint and sound management.”  I thought that was all supposed to be extreme right-wing Tea Party heavy breathing.  Maybe Democrats have swung so far left that no one can hear them when they try to define the center of American politics.  Every race is different, so a smart but principled party will find different ways to present a consistent message to varying audiences.  It’s heartening to see a Republican display that skill in the beautiful city of San Diego.  Or it would be, if this race had any greater implications for California or the nation whatsoever.  But of course it doesn’t.

Update: Like I said, no significance to this race whatsoever outside San Diego.  And by that I mean “a hundred yards outside of San Diego.”