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Fresh cash spurs last-minute mayor ads

Although Tuesday's election is projected to be tight, the amount of money being spent isn't.

Since the general election began Nov. 19, the two candidates and the independent campaign committees that support them raised as more than $5 million by the middle of last week, with David Alvarez at a strong advantage over Kevin Faulconer, thanks to a hefty infusion of cash from labor unions.

By Feb. 8 - the latest date that comprehensive figures are available from the San Diego City Clerk's office - Faulconer had raised less than $2.2, compared to Alvarez nearly $2.9 million, the vast majority of which came from .

Both sides have been spending the money generously in the last two weeks of the election, when the bulk of the money flowed in. It has supported a last minute wave of mailers and radio and TV ads — many of which do not come from the campaign itself but from the officially independent committees.

In just one day in late January, union groups supporting Alvarez spent $366,000 on advertising on local TV stations and Cox Media, in addition to other spending on mailers and a final wave of polling,

Faulconer, who has had heavy backing from the construction and real estate industries and hoteliers, does not appear to have kept pace. By early last week, preliminary records suggested that Faulconer had gathered $2 million in the campaign, but Alvarez was closer to $4 million, more than half of which came from labor unions or their local representatives.

Faulconer, who has a reputation for supporting major real estate developments, had gotten the bulk of his money from that industry, including roughly $450,000 from real estate brokers, developers and investors, and more than $300,000 from construction firms.

The biggest amounts have come from industry associations: $70,100 from the Building Industry Association; $50,000 from the Associated General Contractors; and $45,000 from the California Apartment Association.

The biggest contributions from a single firm came from downtown developer Oliver McMillan, who was also one of the bigger contributors to last year's effort to oust then-Mayor Bob Filner.

The firm's top executives — and several of their stay-at-home wives — gave a total of $16,000, including donations of $1,000 each from co-founder Morgan Dene Oliver, his wife and their two-college age daughters, all of whom gave similar amounts in last year's primary campaign.

Executives at Sudberry Development, which just concluded 10 years of public hearings and discussions with City Hall over its master-planned community in Mission Valley, also contributed $16,000 to Faulconer. The firm has also heavily backed Lori Zapf's campaign to fill Faulconer's seat in November.

Hotels have been major contributors, after being stung last year when Filner blocked them from using the assessments they had been collecting for tourism marketing. Although Alvarez helped broker a deal between the hoteliers and the mayor's office to get the funds moving, the hotels have given $84,748 to Faulconer.

Some of the most visible support comes from hotel developer Doug Manchester, bolstered by his ownership of UT-San Diego. But one of the heaviest backers, Atlas Hotels, has donated more than $47,000 in non-monetary services as well as contributions totaling $1,700 from three of its top executives.

In the meantime, records show that the Chamber of Commerce has given $105,000 to Faulconer, with $90,000 more from the San Diego Jobs Political Action Committee, an independent committee co-founded and heavily backed by the chamber. Sanders and Aimee Faucett, the chamber's executive vice president and COO, have each contributed $1,000 directly to Faulconer's campaign.

Although Faulconer has heavy backing from the business community, Alvarez has even heavier backing from organized labor, which is why he has had the edge in funding.

Based on filings at the City Clerk's office, Alvarez has received more than $2.3 million from unions, mostly through political action committees but also from individual donations from local union organizers.

In addition to labor, Alvarez has had strong support from the Environmental Health Coalition, which has been behind his drive to create a new zoning plan separating the shipyards in south San Diego from the residential neighborhoods in Barrio Logan.

Faulconer and the shipyards have been campaigning to overturn it in a referendum in June. Alvarez has received more than $31,000 from the coalition as well as a related political action committee.

But Alvarez has had some corporate support as well, although it pales in comparison to Faulconer's. As of the beginning of last week, he had gathered nearly $63,000 from real estate, development firms and construction firms, dominated by firms that specialize in urban design and affordable housing.

His biggest construction firm support came from California West Communities in Carlsbad, whose executives donated $6,000 to his campaign.

Other major corporate contributors include Unicare Systems, a health plan administrator, which gave $12,000; the Northgate Market, $9,500; and the Ecko metal recycling firm, $8,000.

Some companies have played it safe by contributing to both candidates, Capitol Outdoor, the billboard advertising company, gave Faulconer and Alvarez $1,000 each, and local real estate developer SD Commercial LLC gave $500 each to both candidates. Joseph Terzi, CEO at the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, gave $1,000 to Faulconer and $500 to Alvarez.

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City of San Diego Executive(s):

Sherri Lightner

  • Council President Pro Tem

Kevin Faulconer

  • Mayor

Todd Gloria

  • Council President

Myrtle Cole

  • City Council Member

Mark Kersey

  • City Council Member

Lorie Zapf

  • City Council Member

Scott Sherman

  • City Council Member

David Alvarez

  • City Council Member

Marti Emerald

  • City Council Member

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