(Posted June 19) The Michigan-born son of a former top state political organizer has just helped spearhead the re-election of a Republican mayor of America’s eighth-largest city who defies every GOP stereotype.
The same day that Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in California’s June 7 Democratic presidential primary, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer was re-elected, earning 59% of the vote in a city with only 25% Republican registration.
Running 34 points ahead of GOP registration, Faulconer is the only Republican mayor among the 10 largest cities in America. San Diego, the eighth largest, is one-third Latino (Hispanic), with 41% registered as Democrats, 34% as Independents, and only 25% Republican.
Faulconer’s campaign was run by Revolvis, a full-service boutique campaign consulting firm with offices in Washington, D.C., Sacramento, San Diego and Seattle. One of its partners, San Diego-based Jason Roe, is the son of the former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party, Jerry Roe of Delta Township, just west of Lansing.
Revolvis has been lauded by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) while Roe has been described by one of his natural enemies, liberal Keith Olberman, formerly of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” as “the worst person in the world.”
Perhaps the most impressive element of Faulconer’s re-election bid is that he earned 43% of the Hispanic vote, even as he faced a Latina opponent, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, who earned 40%. Union leader Ed Harris earned 17% of the Hispanic vote.
About 20% of Faulconer’s television and digital advertising was in Spanish language media, including Univision and Telemundo, which helped him drive the positive and inclusive message to Latino voters. Faulconer also called for the first debate of the campaign to be on Spanish language TV.
As mayor, Faulconer has focused his efforts on bringing more attention — and resources — to neighborhoods underserved after years of budget shortfalls and financial mismanagement. In addition to doubling investments in roads and infrastructure since he took office, he has opened new parks, expanded hours for recreation centers, and launched new education programs like Do Your Homework @ the Library, which has helped 12,000 San Diego children with tutoring programs.
“It’s the Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp style of happy conservatism,” says the 46-year-old Roe, who was just named to the Goldies All Star Class of 2016, recognizing political and public affairs professionals.
In a state that has seen the Republican Party fall behind Democrats and independents (No Party Preference) in registration, Faulconer has demonstrated that outreach to communities who haven’t traditionally voted Republican can produce results. Faulconer’s governing style has earned him praise across the political spectrum and represents a model for the GOP to rebuild into a competitive party in California again.
A recent surge in voter registration in the state that produced Reagan, Richard Nixon and Earl Warren has seen 500,000 voters register or re-register as Democrats, only 136,000 as Republicans, and 60,000 as “No Party Preference.” Voter rolls are 800,000 higher than in 2012, and Democrats now dominate the state with 49% Democrat, 27% Republican, and 24% no party or minor party.