San Diego voters will head to the polls Tuesday to choose the city's new mayor to succeed disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations.
Republicans are eyeing the chance to reclaim the office they've held for a majority of the last 40 years. Filner, who was a congressman for 20 years before becoming mayor, was the city's first Democratic leader in 20 years.
Voters will choose among 11 candidates who are battling for the second spot on an expected runoff ballot—the leading contender, Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, is not expected to win 50% of the vote necessary to avoid a runoff.
Democratic candidate Nathan Fletcher is one of two Democrats expected to take second place on Tuesday. A former U.S. Marine and state assemblyman, Fletcher started his campaign leading in the polls but has lost ground to City Councilman David Alvarez, the other Democrat vying for second place.
Voter turnout is likely to be low for the special election in California's second-largest city, according to Carl Luna, a poltiical science professor at San Diego Mesa College.
"This will be a low-turnout, single-issue election, and there won't be a candidate who ends up with 50% of the vote," the professor told Reuters. "The race for mayor will come down to who comes in second."
Filner resigned in August after serving less than a year in office. The ouster was the result of a setttlement with the city of San Diego over a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson. Jackson was one of 19 women — including a university dean, a retired Navy rear admiral, and a constituent — who accused the mayor of sexually inappropriate behavior.
After pleading guilty to criminal charges in October, the 70-year-old politician will serve three years of probabtion and is barred from running for public office again. Since Filner's resignation, San Diego City Council president Todd Gloria has served as interim mayor.
A 10News/UT San Diego poll released Sunday shows that Kevin Faulconer is leading with 40% in the race for San Diego mayor with Fletcher trailing behind at 24% and Alvarez at 22%.
The runoff elected would likely happen early next year.