San Diego mayoral candidates Kevin Faulconer (l) and David Alvarez (r). Credit: Angela Carone, KPBS.
San Diego mayoral candidates Kevin Faulconer (l) and David Alvarez (r). Credit: Angela Carone, KPBS.

Welcome to the runoff.

San Diego’s City Council set Feb. 11 as the date when Democratic City Councilman David Alvarez will square off against Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer to determine who will lead city government for the nearly three years left on the term of disgraced Mayor Bob Filner.

As in the primary, inewsource will be following the money with a database and visualization we intend to update daily.

Here are three things to know about money in the runoff.

1. The contribution limits and reporting requirements are the same as in the primary

Candidate-controlled committees can only accept contributions from individuals and political parties and only up to $1,000 per individual or $20,000 per party. Independent committees can accept unlimited contributions from nearly any source, including individuals, businesses and labor unions.

All committees must report within 24 hours any donation from an entity that has contributed at least $1,000 to the committee (48 hours if the donation is non-monetary). Committees that have made at least $1,000 in independent expenditures in support or opposition to a candidate must report them within 24 hours.

2. We won’t really know who’s got the most money until early January

According to the City Clerk, there will be three pre-election filing deadlines. The first of those is tentatively scheduled for January 2, pending final approval from the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento. That will give us the first complete picture of money raised, money spent and cash on hand since the close of the last such reporting deadline on November 2.

The question of who’s winning the race for cash is further muddied by the fact that none of the committees active in the race had to report contributions or expenditures for nearly a month after primary day on November 19. That’s because the rules surrounding 24-hour disclosure reports (see point #1) are only in effect in the last 90 days of an election. Because the city council did not set a date for the runoff until this Tuesday, campaigns and committees didn’t have to report contributions until that time.

Some committees–notably David Alvarez’s campaign committee and an independent committee supporting him, Working Families for a Better San Diego, which is sponsored by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council–chose to voluntarily disclosure fundraising during that period.

All other committees did not file any such disclosures.

What we know so far is that since primary day, the Alvarez campaign and Working Families for a Better San Diego reported raising at least $358,000.

Faulconer’s fundraising since the primary is still under wraps but his campaign reported raising at least $18,000 since the runoff date was set on Tuesday.

3. Expect independent committees to once again play a huge role in the race

Whether it was Working Families for a Better San Diego on the left or The Lincoln Club on the right, independent committees established to support or oppose candidates played an outsize role in the primary. Indeed, some have gone so far as to say that Nathan Fletcher lost the election when he lost the support of the region’s powerful labor council.

Expect that trend to hold the same as independent committees, free from the contribution limits of candidate-controlled committees, raise and spend vast amounts for and against the candidates.

But don’t expect the lineup to stay the same. Just Thursday, a new independent committee filed formation papers: Working Together for Neighborhood Fairness. It’s sponsored by The Lincoln Club and indicates it will support Faulconer and oppose Alvarez.

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Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email