The second choices have spoken: Ed Lee has 61 percent of the vote, more than enough for the majority needed to win the San Francisco mayoral election.
Supervisor John Avalos more than doubled his election night position with 39 percent of the vote, but it was not enough to keep Lee from making history.
The vote was released at 4pm, with an intial listing showing just provisional ballots counted on this day. It showed virtually no change. But when 11 rounds of Ranked Choice ballots were posted, Lee was named on enough second choice ballots to take a commanding 25,000 vote lead.
Avalos told KCBS radio he is not conceding the race as 35,000 ballots still remain uncounted.
Until that concession comes, Lee technically is only the “presumptive” winner.
More results will be posted by the city at 4pm Thursday.
Interim Mayor Ed Lee finished the count of first choice ballots with 44, 451 votes or 31.38 percent.
John Avalos was next with 26,447 votes, or 18.67 percent.
Dennis Herrera was third with 15,967 or 11.27 percent.
David Chiu was fourth with 12,655 votes, 8.93 percent.
Only these three have an outside chance of catching Lee who needs 50 percent plus 1.
He better hope he was nice to supporters of the 5th through 10th finishers.
Leland Yee with 10,595 votes or 7.48 percent.
Jeff Adachi, 9,075 votes, or 6.41 percent.
Bevan Dufty, 6704 votes, or 4.73 percent.
Tony Hall, 5,164 votes, or 3.65 percent.
Michela Alioto Pier, 5,063 votes, or 3.57 percent
Joanna Rees, 2,280 votes, or 1.61 percent
These candidates carry the bulk of the also-ran vote. As they get eliminated, their 2nd and 3rd choice ballots get distributed to whomever is designated.
If Ed Lee gets just 19 percent more of those votes he wins and makes history as the city’s first elected Asian American mayor.
This is where the last minute mudslinging might make a difference. Lee got his first place votes, but did all the news of voter fraud and campaign impropriety get him knocked off other candidates’ No.2 or No.3 ballots?
If it did, the trend of the shrinking Ed Lee lead could continue as Avalos, Herrera and possibly Chiu pick up 2nd choice votes.
If no one has a majority, then the registrar starts counting the third choice votes.
Is this really worth not having another election between the top two candidates?
While the elections office listed an 11:30on release of results, it looks as if the new results from the ranked choice balots will be at 4pm on Wednesday.
By then, Lee could have 50 percent plus 1, or not. If he didn’t get enough people to make him their No.2 choice, this could be a long and frustrating count lasting until Friday.
With 59 percent of the votes now counted, Ed Lee’s early big lead has shrunk to just a 17 percentage point lead over his next challenger, Supervisor John Avalos.
Lee had 36,956 vote or 33.28 percent of the vote. Avalos had 18,496 votes or 16.66 percent.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera was third with 12,482 or 11.24 percent of the vote.
As expected, the race tightens with Avalos, the top name on SF Democratic voter pamphlets, picking up steam.
The other premier Asian American candidates, David Chiu, Leland Yee, and Jeff Adachi were still in single digits.
If no one has a majority, the winner will be the candidate who can rack up the most 2nd choice votes.
With the top ten candidates getting over 95 percent of the vote, if Lee is in the No. 2 spot of candidates standing 6th through 10, currently Dufty, Hall, Alioto Pier, and Rees, it could be enough to give him the majority he needs for victory.
This past week, you can tell San Francisco is different from other places. You won’t see a week like this one anywhere else (except maybe Honolulu) when two (of the six) Asian Americans vying for mayor grace the covers of both regional free weeklies.
And it’s not just a strip headline or a sentence teaser, it’s the entire cover.
Calif. State Senator Leland Yee’s the cover boy of the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi fronts the latest SF Weekly.
I’ll have more to say about the articles in sec.
But about those images.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s worth asking why the weekly choose a caricature for Adachi, rather than a normal smiling pol photo like the one the Bay Guardian used for Yee.
Sure, artistic license comes into play. But why risk the danger with caricature when caricature isn’t necessary?
I get it that the Weekly was illustrating how Adachi’s pension reform plan is a gamble. So here’s Jeff pushing “all in” as if in a poker game where the chips are mixed in with icons of the city as if Muni, City Hall, the Pyramid were like Monopoly’s thimble, top hat, and spinning wheel. Cool.
But caricature requires physical exaggeration. And it requires the subject to have some relative fame. In the past, when all the big power held among a homogenous circle, it was no big deal to make fun of public figures’ bulbous noses and hairy eyebrows. And besides, everyone knew what aspects of these figures were worth satirizing.
But in the SF Mayor’s race, when you have an unprecedented amount of diversity (Asian-wise) you’re asking for trouble.
In Washington, D.C. in the late 80s, Regardie’s Magazine got in trouble for depicting then Mayor Marion Barry on it’s cover. The caricature accentuated his big lips.
On SF Weekly’s cover only Adachi’s big head and slicked back hair get exaggerated here, fortunately. The Asian eyes and nose look normal, somewhat realistic to me. No slits, slants, or pug, thank goodness. But again, why risk it? Adachi’s not that famous to warrant the treatment. In fact, show the photo and most would say, “Whodat?” Besides, the caricature has to be more realistic than not so that people will “get it.” So what’s the point? Why not just run a real photo so people will say, “Oh, you mean that guy.”
We are in a unusual time when there are 5 major Asian American candidates for mayor including the incumbent who still isn’t exactly widely recognizable.
Until all the candidates are, photos please.
Now about the articles:
The Weekly’s article frames the race for mayor as a parallel issue to the ballot measure on pension reform.
Adachi, with big backing from billionaire (and former journalist) Michael Moritz, wants to make workers contribute more into their city pensions. It would save the city huge amounts in the short term but it may not be legal, and it could be thrown out in court. So why bother? Could it just a grandstanding play that gins up instant mayoral credibility for Adachi?
The article compares Adachi’s plan with the city’s plan which is being pushed by current Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee’s plan is apparently loved by all the bureaucrats, is very technical, and likely more defensible in court. It just doesn’t go as far to deal with the ongoing issue of unfunded mandates like city pensions. Or at least not far enough for Adachi/Moritz.
Framing the mayoral race in terms of pension reform however is only valuable if you think Jeff Adachi has a real chance at winning.
At this point, it’s likely not, especially if few people recognize the caricature without prompting. Adachi will need a lot of money to fuel a two-headed race for mayor and reform. This may not be his time.
The Bay Guardian’s piece on Leland Yee is a more useful piece because it goes into Yee’s record and his evolution from conservative supe, to corporate legislator, to a hopeful among some progressives for mayor.
Tim Redmond’s piece is comprehensive and mostly fair, but focuses on the writer’s own bias. Like many longtime SFers, he hates what Willie Brown and the Democratic machine did to the city. He hates that it has become a playground to the rich and corporate and so unfriendly to working families and the poor.
As a native SFer, I tend to agree.
By talking to Rose Pak, the Chinatown activist, Redmond touches a nerve. Redmond smartly avoids the dirt Pak has Yee. “She told me a lot of stories and made a lot of allegations that we both knew neither she nor I could ever prove,” the story reports.
I’ve heard the same stories. Vicious, nasty stuff. But I expect it from Pak.
Yee is an outsider to those inside the Chinatown/Willie Brown axis, and it scares them.
Their candidate is Mayor Ed Lee, a close friend of Pak’s and a late addition to the campaign. He had promised not to run. Who talked to him? Brown?
That connection may be the better frame to view the race than pension reform.
Redmond determines Yee to be fairly free of Brown machine taint.
Redmond: “For all his obvious flaws, at least Leland Yee isn’t part of that particular operation. If there’s a better reason to vote for him, I don’t know what is.”
So the two alt-weeklies have begun to frame the campaign.
No mention of David Chiu, or Phil Ting, or Wilma Pang.
Remember it’s Ranked Choice voting.
If you’re Asian and you vote Ed Lee, your second vote isn’t likely to be Yee. It might be Chiu. Unless you don’t want Chiu or Ting, then it may be a Dennis Herrera or John Avalos. But then an Asian may not win at all if it goes to the second ballot.
I think it’s fairly clear no one will get a majority on the first ballot.
That’s why I still think Chiu may be best positioned to win…as a strategic second choice.
The race should also make people legitimately rethink rank-choice voting. It may save money, but it sure turns Democracy into a different game.
The irony was too much last Sunday when the San Francisco freebie, the Examiner, hailed on its cover the headline, “Asian Power.” On one side the board president David Chiu, on the other the new interim Mayor Ed Lee. And then the subhed proclaiming how “the City’s strongest ethnic voting bloc finally claims City Hall.”
The irony is the bold pronouncement in the Examiner, once owned by the Fang family, who were at one time the Asian Kingmakers in San Francisco. The Fangs, you’ll recall, were originally the publishers of AsianWeek and the local shopper, the Independent.
But they expanded their profile when they made the bold move to by the Ex from the Hearsts, taking with them what they thought was a nice subsidy from the seller.
It wasn’t nearly enough,not at a time when newspapers were already 10 inches into an obit for the industry.
Let’s just say it didn’t work out–for anybody. The Hearsts are still bleeding with the Chron. The Fangs, not only had to sell to another mogul who has devised a national chain of Examiner freebies, but the family’s power at City Hall, once thought to be formidable is all but gone.
If there was a revolution at City Hall it wasn’t because anyone consulted the Fangs on Ed Lee.
I think the big winner in all this, however, isn’t Lee.
Yes, it’s historical and he’s the guy. But he has to run in November to keep his seat and there’s no clear path to get back to his $250,000 administrator job if he loses. In fact, he’ll face challenges from at least two other Asian Americans, Sen.Leland Yee and Assessor Phil Ting.
That should produce a lot of fireworks.
There may even be a fourth candidate, board president David Chiu.
Whether he runs or not, I think Chiu’s already the big winner in this all.
David was a civil rights attorney, but I’ve known David from a time ten years ago when we both worked at an internet startup. When the company changed direction, I left, but David, on the busienss side, managed to not just survive, but to thrive. I thought it showed incredible acumen how he maneuvered and kept the company going.
In politics, David has been no less impressive. He took a grassroots effort and won a seat on the board. Then, as a neophyte member, he became president. While he was allied with progressives at the start, his nimble dealing with moderates won him a second term last week.
The moves reek of ambition. But that’s what you want from a leader, no?
With Lee a possible short-timer, my money is on David to ultimately emerge if not in a run for November, then soon after.
In my AsianWeek columns of the past, I called him Obama-like. He’s a smart Harvard Law guy who is showing some real moves. His time in the board is his woodshed period.
If Lee faces Yee and Ting in November it’s hard to say what will happen with rank-choice voting in the mayor’s race. Chiu, a fourth Asian American, could really make things interesting if all the winner has to do is be named as one of the top 3 choices on a ballot.
It could be another Jean Quan situation. You don’t need all the first place votes, you just need to be mentioned.
That could leave Chiu, the young and still rising Asian American politico, as the one with the biggest “upside.”
READ MORE IN MY AMOK COLUMN AT THE ASIAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND SITE:
Hold your horses. There’s still lots of process left before it’s final.
And even then. It’s still just “I.M.”
So why doesn’t it feel as exciting as it is historic?
I would have wished it were done in a more heroic and mythic way, perhaps a thrilling campaign with speeches and drama and perhaps a nail-biter ballot count.
And then maybe we could hoist up Ed Lee on the lions at the Grant Ave. gate.
This was perhaps a bit too political.
A little like an arranged marriage. An internal Supes vote with a touch of intrigue for this interm mayor.
The pick was between some retreads (Hennessey, a good guy and a progressive’s progressive, Agnos the former mayor, Peskin the former but still ambitious supe). The vote deadlocked at 5 between Lee and Hennessey.
Then Lee won a subsequent vote, 10-1. ( Chris Daly was the lone dissenter. That’s enough reason to like Lee if you’re a non-Asian).
But a new board installed Saturday or Sunday could change it all.
A moment in the sun, is what it is.
A campaign for the real mayor in November could begin sooner than Lee can rearrange the pictures on the office wall.
And then we may even see some Asian American candidates (as well as others) who may challenge Lee for the post.
But if this weekend plays out, Lee was there first and that deserves a firecracker or two.
And he’ll be mayor for the New Year parade!
Still, to use a math analogy, is Lee more than a “placeholder” enjoying his time in the sun?
We shall see.
This may have been a little symbolic affirmative action. Asians have been powerful in city politics but no one got the top job, until now. A generation of younger Asian Americans will definitely change thatnc certainly in the next 5-10 years. Ed Lee is just the beginning as San Francisco’s official leadership actually begins to look like the city it serves.
Emil Guillermo's commentary on race, politics, diversity…and everything else. It's Emil Amok's Takeout!