Openly gay conservative Republican Carl DeMaio captured first place in San Diego‘s mayoral primary election June 5.
DeMaio, 37, currently a City Council member, and the second-place finisher, Congressman Bob Filner (D), 69, will advance to the November runoff election to head the nation’s eighth-largest city.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, DeMaio had 32 percent, Filner had 30 percent, independent Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher had 24 percent, and out lesbian San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (R) had 13 percent.
Uncounted absentee and provisional ballots – more than 100,000 countywide – are not expected to change the order in which the candidates finish. The percentages remained relatively stable throughout Tuesday night as returns came in.
DeMaio and Filner both support same-sex marriage, but DeMaio has said that as mayor he would focus on economic issues and not address social issues. His campaign has reported donations from anti-gay activists, including at least two who helped fund the campaign for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.
For his part, Filner is leading the effort to have the U.S. Navy name a vessel after Harvey Milk, the slain San Francisco supervisor who spent time in the Navy in San Diego decades before moving to San Francisco and launching his political career.
Current Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who could not run again because of term limits, has been an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage and testified in the federal case that struck down Prop 8 as unconstitutional. He has an out lesbian daughter and had endorsed Dumanis in the race.
In the final weeks of the nonpartisan race, DeMaio was the target of attacks on his boyfriend’s past criminal record as well as the donations from anti-gay donors. Nicole Murray Ramirez, a San Diego city commissioner and political columnist for LGBT Weekly, told the Bay Area Reporter prior to Tuesday’s vote that LGBT San Diegans should be concerned that DeMaio would become mayor if his opponent in the runoff was Filner.
But in an email to the B.A.R. following last week’s article about the race, Jess Durfee, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said that, “the vast majority of the LGBT community is happy to support Bob Filner and is confident he will beat DeMaio in November.”
Durfee pointed out that party registration in San Diego is 40 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican, and 26 percent decline to state. That is a change from previous years, when San Diego was a decidedly more conservative city.
Yet Filner’s vote count of 51,680 Tuesday pales in comparison when the other three candidates, all of whom were GOP members prior to Fletcher’s leaving the party, are combined. The trio nabbed 118,765 total votes, though it is unlikely Dumanis or Fletcher will endorse DeMaio in the runoff.