When the mayoral election finally wound down in early June to a battle between Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, groans could be heard across the city about partisanship winning out over leadership and vision.
Many saw district attorney Bonnie Dumanis as the seasoned, even-handed choice, and the pick of the current mayor, Jerry Sanders. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was the visionary who touted building consensus among both Democrats and Republicans.
DeMaio and Filner, on the other hand, were contentious and partisan. Some now feel the campaign will draw national attention for its’ pitting of a Tea Party Republican, DeMaio, against a classic liberal, Filner.
But the election likely says far more about San Diego politics than it does about any national agenda.
“This is the first election that I know of where the candidates are both champions of communities and not downtown interests,” said Erick Bruvold, president at National University System Institute for Policy Research.
Both DeMaio and Filner have positioned themselves as outsiders to the “downtown establishment.”
What they call the “downtown establishment,” however, is not a coherent group. Rather, it is a loose collection of business interests who, over the past 40 years, have supported downtown redevelopment through public funding.
Mayors dating back to Pete Wilson, who was first elected in 1971, have supported the efforts of developers like Ernest Hahn, who built Horton Plaza, and John Moores who was behind Petco park, as well as the construction of the convention center in 1989 and its expansion in 2001.