President Obama’s endorsement didn’t help the Democratic candidate for mayor of San Diego as Republican Kevin Faulconer won a special election Tuesday to lead the nation’s eighth-largest city.
Mr. Faulconer, a city councilman, defeated Democratic councilman David Alvarez by 54.5 percent to 44.5 percent in spite of Mr. Obama backing Mr. Alvarez and labor unions spending millions on behalf of the Democrat. Many observers had expected a closer contest.
The election was called to replace disgraced Democratic Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned last August amid allegations of sexual harassment. He is serving a term of home confinement after pleading guilty in December to forcibly kissing or grabbing three women at campaign events or at city hall. A total of 19 women had accused him of offensive behavior.
Mr. Obama endorsed Mr. Alvarez in a city that the president carried by 63 percent to 37 percent in November 2012. Democrats also hold a 13-point advantage in registration over Republicans in the city.
Turnout was low in the special election despite unions spending about $4.2 million to elect Mr. Alvarez, who ran on a platform that included raising the minimum wage, one of Mr. Obama’s priorities. Business interests backing Mr. Faulconer spent about $1.7 million.
“Together, you have sent a very strong message — not only here in San Diego but throughout our region — that this city is going to have an independent leader, this city is going to stand up and work together to bring us all together,” he told supporters at an election-night celebration.
Mr. Alvarez, 33, a son of Mexican immigrants, was trying to become the first Hispanic mayor in the city’s history. Prior to Mr. Filner winning in 2008, Republicans had controlled the mayor’s office for 20 years.