Mayor Miguel Pulido won a decisive victory over his opponents in Tuesday’s election but will take the oath of office next month considerably weakened. He was elected with less than 50 percent of the vote, he’s lost his closest allies on the council, there’s an unknown councilmember that might swing his way but at best Pulido is looking at a 5-2 disadvantage on the City Council. And Santa Ana voters approved Measure GG effectively telling Puldio he’s out by 2020.
The Mayor has no clothes. He extended an olive branch not just to Benavides last Tuesday night but one for the entire Santa Ana Spring because Pulido knows there is precious little he can do to thwart their efforts. Pulido doesn’t have four votes and he’ll be out of power in eight years or sooner.
Facing a challenger that took away many of the third parties he previously relied n for support, Pulido made a choice to run hard for his job while leaving Measure GG to fend for itself. And in doing so has put a term limit on his tenure as Santa Ana’s Mayor.
Pulido attended Santa Ana’s Art Walk last weekend; regulars tell us they can’t remember the last time Pulido was out mingling among the public openly asking for votes. Because Benavides’ candidacy took away so many of Pulido’s regular support, the Mayor actually had to work for his own re-election and couldn’t take the time to stump for candidates that might benefit him on the dais. He was counted on Brett Franklin getting elected in Ward 3 and was seen frequently at events with Karina Onofre who was the Republican candidate for Ward 5. Having both of those candidates elected would mean Pulido would only have to flip one member of the “Santa Ana Spring” to get his way on the council. But the only vote Pulido can truly count on moving forward is his own. It’s often said, you need four votes to get anything done on the city council and there are five solid votes who won’t march lockstep with Pulido in 2013-14.
In terms of percentages, Benavides’ candidacy was hurt by three other candidates in the race that split the anti-Pulido vote, but it’s hard to see another sitting council member being strong enough to garner the support Benavides got from the Party and different labor/community organizations. Benavides emerges stronger on the council for his campaign. While most politicos anticipate Sal Tinajero will be the Mayor Pro Tem as part of a handshake agreement when he dropped out of the Mayor’s race in favor of Benavides, I’m not sure sure Tinajero is going to sell out the Santa Ana Spring. Roman Reyna, who succeeds Claudia Alvarez in Ward 5, garnered the most votes of any candidate for city council.
The first couple of meetings with the new council are going to be telling and worth watching. But Pulido now has an expiration date on his term in office and with the makeup of the new council, it comes with significantly less influence.