‘Big Mac’ attack: Esco mayor race turns blue; Mac by 1,325 votes (UPDATED 6 p.m. Nov. 23)

'Big Mac', Paul McNamara surged to a significant lead in the Escondido mayor's race Wednesday, Nov. 14 with the finish line firmly in sight/Facebook

Hell just froze over. With Escondido mayoral mail-in and provisional ballots continuing to be counted Wednesday afternoon, Democratic challenger Paul “Mac” McNamara soared to a commanding lead over incumbent Republican “Bad, Bad Abed, Sam.”

The hits, or in this case, McNamara votes, keep coming. Big Mac’s lead grew again for the seventh straight day. Abed claimed victory Nov. 7. Now, the only remaining question is when does he concede the election?

As of 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23, McNamara shook, rattled and rolled to a significant 1,325 vote lead over the embattled Abed. McNamara had 20,658 votes, or 51.66 percent, to Abed’s 19,333 votes or 48.34 percent.

This signals the long-awaited left turn from Escondido’s many decades of conservative Republican rule to an Escondido City Council 3-2 split in favor or progressive Democrats more representative of Escondido ethical values.

Although all 75 Escondido precincts have reported results, the race for Escondido mayor turned from ruby red to baby blue following a post-Election Day roll that showed McNamara consistently cutting into Abed’s initial lead as mail-in and provisional ballots continued to be counted.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, Abed held a 414 vote lead. That fell to 275 votes on Friday. Abed’s advantage dropped like a lead balloon daily after that to 79 votes, then 70 votes and 20 votes before the tide turned for good on Wednesday.

As of late Thursday, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters said 1,091,475 votes had been counted countywide and 72,000 remained to be processed with overall voter turnout estimated to be around 65 percent when all votes were counted. County election officials appeared to be counting about 20,000-30,000 votes daily. The next update comes Saturday.

With roughly 10 percent of the vote still not counted, that meant several thousand mail-in and provisional ballots possibly remained to be counted from Escondido. Those votes consistently were going to McNamara since Nov. 6

Abed actually declared victory Wednesday, Nov. 7 despite thousands of outstanding ballots while McNamara declined to concede, saying he would wait until all votes were counted.

“I appreciate the support we got throughout the community,” Abed said. “It’s really an honor for me to be re-elected for a third term.”

Oops. Shades of Dewey defeats Truman — wrong again, mister ex-mayor.

For continued updates, consult the San Diego County Registrar of Voters website at http://www.livevoterturnout.com/SanDiego/LiveResults/en/Index_5.html.

The closeness of the race reflected a major change in Escondido demographics and political alignments in the last 10 years.  Once a solidly Republican city, the latest registration figures showed an almost even divide between Republicans, Democrats and Independents in 2018.

The winner of the mayoral race represents the swing vote on the Escondido City Council.

Progressive Democrat Consuelo Martinez took her momentum from the 2014 District 1 contest in central Escondido to a big win over longtime, and far right-wing, councilman Ed Gallo. She lost by 69 votes in 2014 and was ahead with 3,579 votes, or 64.77 percent to Gallo’s 1,947 votes, or 35.23 percent on Saturday. Martinez would ally with fellow Democrat Olga Diaz, of District 3, who was not on the ballot this year.

Meanwhile, in a 3-person race for District 2, Republican conservative John Masson had 5,851 votes, or 50.53 percent, to liberal Democrat Vanessa Valenzuela at 4,444 votes, or 38.38 percent and Independent Nicole Downey at 1,285 votes, or 11.10 percent. Masson would team up with fellow Republican conservative Michael Morasco who represents District 4 and was not on the ballot.

While the mayoral contest will have significant consequences for Escondido, the election of the 39-year-old Martinez — who posed a complete contrast to the 76-year-old Gallo who was first elected in 2002 — represented a political earthquake for the city.

Escondido council rules call for a minimum of two councilpersons to introduce agenda items. Diaz often could not find a co-sponsor among the four other members on past councils. That changes next year.

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