Money Chase Gets Pricey in SD Mayoral Campaign

By Gene Cubbison
|  Thursday, Jan 2, 2014  |  Updated 6:45 PM PDT
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You wouldn't know that the San Diego mayoral runoff is on a short election cycle, considering how much campaign money has been raised. It's well into seven figures with six weeks to go. NBC 7’s political reporter Gene Cubbison reports.

You wouldn't know that the San Diego mayoral runoff is on a short election cycle, considering how much campaign money has been raised. It's well into seven figures with six weeks to go. NBC 7’s political reporter Gene Cubbison reports.

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Six weeks away from the election day in the San Diego’s special mayoral runoff race, big bucks in the form of campaign contributions is rolling in like a tsunami – much of it from beyond the city limits.

As of New Year's Eve, the online database inewsource.org  shows that Councilman David Alvarez is backed by nearly $2.2 million; Kevin Faulconer, by about $1.5 million.

But on Thursday, Faulconer picked up a heavyweight endorsement from San Diego’s Biocom that could pay off in huge donations from the "life sciences" industry.

"Kevin Faulconer has demonstrated the ability to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats and Republicans,” Biocom President Joe Panetta told reporters at news conference in Sorrento Mesa. “That's a skill that's necessary here in San Diego, and Sacramento – and Washington as well."

Said Faulconer: "The choice that has been made by these local leaders reflects the same choice that San Diegans will have on Feb. 11 … they looked at the records of the two candidates for mayor, and their unanimous vote shows the choice could not be clearer."

Faulconer's support from Biocom comprises 600 member firms that employ 60,000 workers and pump $14 billion into the local economy.

Biocom executives had endorsed Nathan Fletcher in the primary election.

Panetta said Biocom officials extended Alvarez – who has Fletcher’s endorsement for the runoff election -- an invitation for a post-primary meeting to discuss their endorsement, but got no response in "the time frame" they wanted.

Alvarez says he doesn't really know how the meeting plans fell through, and that he wasn't given a specific deadline.

But, pointing to his background as a state Senate aide and political relationships with state legislators and Congressional representatives, Alvarez insisted he’s well-positioned to help bring home the industry's bacon, in both the state capitol and D.C.

"I understand how Sacramento works,” Alvarez said in an interview. “I can get us into Sacramento, making sure that we are on the same page as our delegates are, the governor is, to focus our economy and business attraction the way that is supportive of San Diego. And I can do the same thing in Washington."

If elected mayor, Alvarez says he also could advance Biocom's interests with an emphasis on bringing industry growth to in the city's southern reaches.

"We have available land, the industrial and manufacturing land in the southern part of the county with or cross-border economy, where we can really expand existing biotech industry,” he said. “And that's what I wish we could've had more conversation around."

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