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Gloria holds significant lead over Bry for San Diego mayor

State Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Todd Gloria, alongside his parents Linda Gloria and Phil Gloria
State Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Todd Gloria, alongside his parents Linda Gloria and Phil Gloria, crosses his fingers after casting his ballot at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters on Election Day.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The two Democrats are battling to replace termed-out Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Assemblyman Todd Gloria holds a significant lead over fellow Democrat Councilwoman Barbara Bry in the battle to become San Diego’s next mayor, according to unofficial results released by the county Registrar of Voters.

The former allies have been in a fierce battle to replace termed-out Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer. The well-funded campaign has featured attack ads from both sides on TV and in mailers.

Bry said Tuesday night that she expects to gain ground as more votes are counted, stressing that her campaign expected to be trailing because early voters leaned farther to the left, which favors Gloria.

“There are still ballots left to count,” she said.

San Diego City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry speaks to supporters at a home in North Park.
After early election returns were released, San Diego City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry speaks to supporters at a home in North Park.
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Gloria campaign consultant Jen Tierney said she doubts the remaining ballots can close the gap because the early vote counts released Tuesday evening represent well over half of the votes cast in the mayor’s race.

“I think she could pick up some,” Tierney said. “But I don’t see how she could close this gap.”

Tierney said there wasn’t one key factor in the race, contending that voters chose Gloria because he is simply a superior candidate.

“Todd has always been a great candidate,” she said. “But it’s not just that, it’s the fact that he’s the right candidate at this time.”

Gloria would be the city’s first gay mayor and first minority mayor. He is Latino, Native American and Filipino. Gloria also touts being a lifelong San Diegan.

Two San Diego Union-Tribune/10 News polls, one in early September and one in early October, showed the race to be nearly a dead heat.

While they are both Democrats, the two candidates have starkly different views on solving the city’s housing crisis, homelessness, vacation rentals, transportation challenges and revamping the sports arena neighborhood.

State Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Todd Gloria casts his ballot
State Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Todd Gloria casts his ballot at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters on Election Day.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Gloria has also accused Bry of selling out her values by moving to the center-right on many issues. Bry has said a Gloria win will allow special interests to maintain the control they’ve had over City Hall for years.

Bry says her business experience as a high-tech entrepreneur makes her the better candidate. She has criticized Gloria for being a career politician.

Gloria, who lives in Mission Hills, is 42. Bry, who lives in La Jolla, is 71.

The winner will be the first Democrat to be San Diego mayor since the city switched to a “strong mayor” form of government 15 years ago, with the exception of Democrat Bob Filner’s nine-month scandal-plagued time as mayor in 2013.

“I think it’s a great milestone,” Tierney said.

Gloria represented downtown and neighboring communities on the City Council from 2008 to 2016, including eight months as interim mayor in the wake of Filner’s resignation. Gloria was elected to the state Assembly in 2016.

Bry has represented La Jolla and neighboring communities on the council since 2016. She had never held elected office before.

To support her claims about Gloria and special interests, Bry has pointed out that Gloria has strong support from powerful labor unions and business leaders, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Gloria says he’s proud of his long career in public service and that his broad support is the result of people knowing he can get things done and broker compromises when necessary.

Tierney said the new mayor will face a difficult task taking over the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a budget crisis in San Diego by shrinking tax revenues.

San Diego City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry joins supporters waving signs
San Diego City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry joins supporters waving signs on Torrey Pines Road on Election Day
(Sam Hodgson/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Bry said she thanked her campaign team Tuesday night for their efforts, adding that she was proud of the “grassroots” campaign she ran and the issues she highlighted.

Her campaign consultant, Tom Shepard, said Tuesday night that he was optimistic that the uncounted votes would favor Bry because more Republicans and independents voted on Election Day instead of casting early votes by mail.

Solving San Diego’s housing affordability crisis is where the candidates differ the most, with Gloria supporting state legislation forcing cities to allow dense residential projects in single-family neighborhoods.

Bry says giving up local land-use authority endangers the character of San Diego and many of its neighborhoods, adding there are less aggressive ways to solve the housing crisis.

She says local control gives neighborhoods crucial leverage to negotiate with developers for more amenities like parks and other changes to a proposed project.

Gloria says state legislation is needed to force reluctant cities to do their part to help solve California’s housing shortage. He says housing is a statewide problem that needs statewide solutions.

The candidates also differ on short-term vacation rentals. Bry says the city should crack down using its existing laws, and Gloria promises new legislation to allow the rentals but with restrictions and fees.

Bry has criticized Gloria for taking a significant amount of campaign money from the vacation rental industry. Gloria says he needs to take contributions because he can’t match Bry’s personal wealth.

She has contributed more than $600,000 of her own money to her campaign.

Updates:

7:18 AM, Nov. 04, 2020: This story was updated to reflect latest vote totals.