San Diego County races to watch

With November’s election right around the corner, San Diego County is proving to be an area worth watching, where shifts in the political balance appear to be on the line.   

Mayoral race:

A shift in party control is already guaranteed in the San Diego mayoral race where two Democrats are facing off to replace Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who couldn’t run for re-election due to term limits. In this contest, Assemblymember Todd Gloria is facing off against City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, who narrowly beat Councilman Scott Sherman in the top-two primary. 

While Gloria garnered over 66,000 more votes than Bry in the primary, recent polling suggests the race is close. According to an ABC-10/News Union-Tribune Survey USA poll, Gloria is leading Bry 39% to 38%, with 24% of voters reporting they are undecided. 


Get information about upcoming events, insight from key stakeholders, and state-specific reporting delivered to your inbox!


Board of Supervisors:

The election could also shift the partisan makeup of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Currently, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher (District 4) is the only Democrat on the Board of Supervisors. He, along with Republican Supervisor Jim Desmond (District 5), are not up for re-election this year.

Two Democrats – State Sen. Ben Hueso and Southwestern Community College Trustee Nora Vargas – are vying for the District 1 position, which has been held by Republican Supervisor Greg Cox since 1995. Former State Sen. Joel Anderson and Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, both Republicans, are running to replace long-time Supervisor Dianne Jacob in District 2. 

With a locked-in 2-2 party split, the District 3 race will determine the political balance of the Board. 

Facing off in the District 3 race is Republican incumbent Kristin Gaspar and Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer. Gaspar was elected in 2016 and previously served on the Encinitas City Council and as the first elected mayor of Encinitas. Lawson-Remer is an economist who worked in the Obama administration.

Gaspar received 42.82% of the vote in the primary, with Lawson-Remer bringing in 31.2%. However, Democrat Olga Diaz came in third place in the primary with 25.99%, bringing the total Democratic vote to 57.19%.  

In 2016, Gaspar edged out incumbent Dave Roberts in the District 3 race by about 1,200 votes. At that time, there were 113,721 registered Democrats, 111,111 registered Republicans, and 98,686 undeclared in the district.

The make up of the district has since shifted. As of October 1, 2020, the 3rd District has 150,694 registered Democrats, 110,751 registered Republicans, and 106,820 undeclared, according to the county registrar. 



San Diego County voters will also weigh in on several US House seats. Four seats are considered solid Democratic districts, while the other is likely Republican, according to Cook Political Report.

Incumbent US Reps. Scott Peters (52nd District) is facing off against Republican Jim Debello in the largely Democratic district which covers coastal and central portions of the city. In the primary, 65% of the votes went to Democratic candidates (49.12% to Peters alone), compared to 32.39% who voted Republican. 

Incumbent US Rep. Juan Vargas (51st District) is facing Republican challenger Juan M Hidalgo Jr. for the third time in the reliably Democratic district. Here, Vargas outperformed Hidalgo by about 70% to 30% in the 2016 and 2018 elections. 

In the 53rd Congressional District, two Democrats – nonprofit executive Sara Jacobs and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez – are vying for the seat left by retiring US Rep. Susan Davis. 

The 49th District will feature incumbent Democrat Mike Levin against former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, a Republican. This district flipped from red to blue in 2018, and polls indicate it is likely to remain a Democratic district.    

The 50th District, which has been vacant since Duncan Hunter resigned in January of this year, features Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. Issa served 9 terms in Congress in the 49th District before stepping down, and Campa-Najjar lost to Hunter in this district in 2018 by a vote of 51.7% to 48.3%. The district is considered traditionally Republican and while one poll points to a tight race, others predict an Issa win