The race on the Democratic side of the aisle for the new 52nd Congressional District has been a wild one within the local party.
No other race has yielded such clear division between the "activists" that have more volunteer time than money and the "establishment" that has more money than volunteer time. In a year in which the mayoral campaign was expected to dominate, we have an intra-party food fight over whether Scott or Lori will take on Brian for the fall.
Bilbray has a solid chance of being one of the top two candidates. His Republican opponents haven't put in much of an effort trying to challenge him in November. Thus, we are left with which Dem will take on the carpetbagger from the north.
This is fun to watch for no other reason that it has yielded a number of lessons for all candidates running at any level about what to do and not do. I'll get into this later. For now, let's looks at where we are:
Peters - 11 from the campaign and one from Labor
Saldaña - 4 from the campaign
Peters has been flooding mailboxes since last weekend. His mail pieces look very D.C. establishment and don't appear to be doing much other than helping his name ID as in "who keeps sending all of this mail?" Saldaña has dropped 3 pieces and a letter (points for being different). The letter may have cut through the clutter but there are a lot of other campaigns (Fletcher, DeMaio, Prop A) filling up these same mailboxes. Both campaigns dropped their first hits at the same time and this may be why the mail war is oddly cool; mutual cancellation.
Winner for now: Tilts toward Peters because of volume
Saldaña - No
Having television ads to not having television ads gives Peters the advantage. The questions are was his ad buy large enough and will the DeMaio-Fletcher ad war drown Scott out?
Winner for now: Peters
Local media coverage
The local press is familiar with both candidates and seems to be treating them well with a few exceptions. As it stands, both appear to be getting passes because the mayoral race is the big-ticket item and CD 52 fits the narrative of a story that won’t be a story until the primary.
Winner for now: Neither
There was a rumor that Peters was assembling a paid field operation two weeks ago. If he has done so it may be a little late. The Saldaña campaign has deftly used their volunteers. They have also been on the ground for months. Even so, paid operations give volunteer efforts a real challenge.
Yard signs are not the best indicator of a campaign's strength but Saldaña signs can be seen across the 52nd, whereas Peters signs seem limited to La Jolla, parts of University City and Coronado.
Winner for now: Saldaña
Democrats don't usually show up in primaries so this may come down to who can turn out the vote. If the election were held today, the winner would win by 3-5% of the votes cast. Scott is leading on this checklist but Saldaña's ground game is solid and can win the day. Activists are energetic and can work wonders when directed in a positive fashion.
I don’t know who will win but I know that it will be fun to watch.