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Election Results: Todd Gloria leading San Diego mayor’s race; Scott Sherman, Barbara Bry fighting for second runoff slot

Todd Gloria, center, candidate for mayor, with his parents Linda and Phil Gloria , left, and his partner Adam Smith walked into the County Registrar of Voters office to vote on election day, Tuesday March 3, 2020.
(John Gibbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Top two will advance to November runoff to replace Kevin Faulconer

Democrat Todd Gloria and Republican Scott Sherman were leading the race for San Diego mayor with all precincts reporting but many votes still left uncounted.

Gloria, a state Assemblyman, was in first place by a wide margin and Sherman was slightly ahead of Democrat Barbara Bry for the coveted second slot in the November runoff. Sherman and Bry are both members of the City Council.

With all precincts reporting, Gloria had 40.23 percent, Sherman had 25.17 percent and Bry had 23.61 percent.

Three other candidates in the race — nonprofit executive Tasha Williamson, technology worker Rich Riel and media host Gita Singh — were significantly behind. Williamson had 5.73 percent, Singh had 2.98 percent and Riel had 2.28 percent.

In city elections, the top two finishers in the March primary, regardless of party, advance to a November runoff.

The winner in November will replace Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Appearing on Fox 5 San Diego early Wednesday, Bry said she was still optimistic she would end up finishing in second and advance to the runoff against Gloria. Bry was trailing Sherman by 3,063 votes.

“According to the county Registrar of Voters, there are still 350,000 votes countywide, probably 175,000 to 200,000 in the city, that still remain to be counted,” Bry said. “We will see what the numbers tell us as more votes get counted.”

Candidate for San Diego Mayor Barbara Bry walked with her supporters at Golden Hall on Tuesday night.
(Hayne Palmour IV / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sherman, speaking at the U.S. Grant Hotel downtown on Tuesday night, thanked his supporters and says he ran to “stand up for common sense.” Sherman said he was optimistic he would make the runoff, but added that he didn’t expect to know the results until Wednesday morning — at the earliest.

If the margin between Sherman and Bry remains slim, it may take days or even weeks to determine the outcome, as late-arriving ballots get counted by the county Registrar of Voters. The results must be certified by April 2, 30 days after Election Day.

At Democrat Party headquarters on Tuesday night, Gloria declared that he will be part of the runoff.

“While the night is still young and there are still many votes left to be counted, my friends there is one thing that is clear -- our campaign is moving on to November,” said Gloria, speaking to a large crowd at the downtown Westin Hotel.

Gloria said he would work tirelessly as mayor to make San Diego a world-class city.

“For too long, San Diego has acted and operated like a small town, rather than leading like the truly big city that we are,” he said. “That stops now.”

Gloria also touched on transit.

“We have an international airport and a light-rail system that are literally next to one another and yet they don’t connect,” he said. “That’s a San Diego special if I’ve ever heard of one.”

Both Sherman and Bry said their messages of bringing change to City Hall seemed to resonate with voters on the campaign trail in the days leading up to the election.

They have criticized the remarkably broad coalition of labor unions, developers and business groups — including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce — that have lined up behind Gloria. Gloria also was endorsed by the county Democratic Party over Bry.

Sherman and Bry say Gloria would be beholden to special interests if he becomes mayor.

Gloria says he’s proud of his broad coalition of support, which he attributes to his proven track record as a leader who gets things done.

He says voters should be enthusiastic about his ability to bring diverse groups together, because that’s what it will take to get things done in a city facing challenges like widespread homelessness and an affordable housing crisis.

Supporters of Bry were hoping she would benefit from Republicans having a substantially lower turnout than Democrats, because the presidential primary is much more competitive on the Democratic side.

Sherman was at a significant fundraising disadvantage, primarily because he didn’t enter the race until just after Thanksgiving —10 months after Gloria and Bry announced their candidacies.

Scott Sherman speaks at the U.S. Grant Hotel on Tuesday night.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Having more money allowed Gloria and Bry to each run several TV ads in the weeks leading up to the primary. Sherman wasn’t able to afford any TV ads.

Through late February, Gloria had raised nearly $1.2 million overall, followed by Bry with $900,000 and Sherman with $260,000.

Gloria and Bry also are benefiting from independent committees supporting their candidacies. Each has had committees spend more than $100,000 on their behalf.

The candidates have clashed on affordable housing, electric scooter restrictions, short-term vacation rentals and other issues.

Congressman Scott Peters said last winter that he considered entering the race but decided against it because of new opportunities that emerged in Congress for Democrats after the party’s strong showing in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Gloria, 41, would be San Diego’s first openly gay and first minority elected mayor of the city. He is Latino, Native American and Filipino.

Before being elected to the Assembly in 2016, Gloria served eight years on the City Council. Part of that tenure included eight months as interim mayor during the Bob Filner scandal. He spearheaded adoption of the city’s climate action plan and a minimum wage increase.

Sherman, 56, has served on the City Council since 2012. Considered the council’s most conservative member, he has focused most of his attention on housing regulations. A longtime insurance agent, he has been endorsed by the county Republican Party.

Bry, 70, was elected to the City Council in 2016 after a private-sector career that included founding several local high-tech companies, such as ProFlowers.com, and working as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and other publications.

She has supported greater transparency at City Hall and restrictions on scooters and short-term vacation rentals. She has been endorsed by Save San Diego Neighborhoods, a group lobbying for vacation rental regulations.

Gloria lives in Mission Hills, Sherman lives in Allied Gardens and Bry lives in La Jolla.

Updates:

10:02 AM, Mar. 04, 2020: This story was updated with 100 percent of precincts reporting in unofficial results, but mail and provisional ballots not yet counted.