by Joanne Faryon | inewsource

At Nathan Fletcher’s campaign headquarters in Mission Valley last night, the party never really got started. A couple hundred supporters and campaign workers gathered in a non-descript office building where they got to see and hear from their candidate for less than two minutes.

“We have run a great campaign. I believe in the end we will prevail,” Fletcher told them shortly before 11 o’clock last night. At the time of his remarks, Fletcher was leading Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez by about 3,000 votes.

“We’ll continue to watch results….We are cautiously optimistic. We will fight strongly till the end,” he said.

Nathan Fletcher, alongside his wife Mindy, prepares to speak to supporters election night.

But the night and the count turned shortly after.

As supporters watched the results on a large screen, they cheered as they mistakenly thought their candidate continued his lead, but quickly realized Alvarez had moved into second place.

The room deflated and most supporters began to leave.

At the beginning of the campaign, this would have been a surprising result. Fletcher began as the frontrunner, then a strong second in what became a three-way race among him, Alvarez, and Republican City Councilman Kevin Faulconer.

But the most recent polls put Fletcher and Alvarez in a tie, with Fletcher consistently losing ground during the course of his campaign.

As of early this morning, the County Registrar projected as many as 34,500 mail and provisional ballots still to be counted.

While some news outlets were calling the race for Alvarez, Fletcher did not concede the race as of early this morning. A spokesperson for his campaign said they wanted to be sure all the ballots were counted.

This is Fletcher’s second run for mayor. He lost in the primary in 2012 while running as an Independent.

The once Republican, turned Independent, turned Democrat was taken to task by both Democrats and Republicans for his party switch. And while he did receive support from some high profile Democrats, including former labor leader and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the Democratic Party nor the San Diego and Imperial Counties labor Council endorsed Alvarez.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Faulconer received 89,043 votes, 52,283 votes, and Fletcher 49,645 votes.

County Registrar Michael Vu expects the remaining mail and provisional ballots to be counted by Friday at the latest.

Joanne Faryon is a freelance reporter and former inewsource and KPBS reporter.