By Tom Temprano
Numbers! I hated them in high school as I slogged through summer school Algebra II classes while friends got to enjoy the sunshine. Yet, on election night I was all about the numbers as wild results from local and statewide elections came across the TV and cell phone screens at Virgil’s Sea Room this past Tuesday.
Some numbers were staggeringly large –59, as in the percent of voters who said yes on Prop B and in doing so predictably rejected the opposition’s assertion that voters were too dumb to make smart choices about the future of our public waterfront. A word of advice to future campaigns – insulting the intelligence of the people whose support you’re trying to sway might not the best way to get them to do what you want to.
Some were excruciatingly small – .1, as in the percentages separating John Perez, Dave Evans and Betty Yee, who as I write this on Thursday are ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively in the too close to call Controllers Race. Currently there are less than 3,000 votes apiece separating each of the candidates out of nearly 3 million cast statewide. Talk about a squeaker. You better believe that if former Assembly Speaker Perez, who is vying to become California’s fist ever statewide elected LGBT official, ends up in second place and headed to the November general election, the LGBT votes he garnered in San Francisco could well have been the difference maker.
Perez got 4,564 votes in District 8, nearly 2,000 more votes than he did in any other of the city’s 11 Supervisors Districts, where the Harvey Milk Club worked for weeks to turn out gay voters to support both he and David Campos. These high numbers came in despite the endorsement of one of his opponents by the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club and the Bay Area Reporter. The results are still up in the air but between the work the Harvey Milk Club did in District 8 and the work that the Latino Democratic Club did in District 9, I’d say we have a lot to feel proud of.
Other numbers were downright depressing – 23.55, as in the percent of eligible San Francisco voters who actually cast a ballot in the June Primary. Despite incredibly heavy spending from Ron Conway and co. including $250,000 in Independent Expenditures supporting David Chiu and another $25,000 for robo calls opposing Prop B (which made the local democratic party the subject of an Ethics complaint), voters showed almost historic apathy in their declining to go to the polls. I mean, I get it. It’s a primary, we have a weird new Top 2 system, the sexiest thing on the ballot initiative-wise was a No Wall On The Waterfront Redux, etc. but still – this is San Francisco and we ought to be able to at least get a third of people out to the polls.
Of course, t other news about the low and presumably more conservative turnout in June is that it means that the slightly more than 3,000 votes that separated David Campos and David Chiu mean next to nothing in November. Tim Redmond has already summed up the state of that race better than I ever could but having weathered the independent expenditure storm as well as being outspent two to one David Campos has to be eyeing November’s more progressive electorate with a smile on his face.
Speaking of the Assembly race, it was interesting to see that David Chiu, despite having his campaign headquarters on Castro Street, lost by several hundred votes to David Campos in District 8. This loss comes even though Chiu had secured endorsements from incumbent D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener as well as the Bay Area Reporter. While Chiu has done well to position himself as an ally to the LGBT community, it looks as though voters in the city’s historically LGBT district are still interested in keeping the seat, which has been held by a member of the queer community since 1996, in the family.
Both candidates see district 8 as a must-win as evidenced by Chiu’s choice for his headquarters and by the many mobilizations the Campos campaign held in the District. If District 8 is in fact the battleground – Campos appears to be heading toward November with a marked advantage.
Jon Golinger is on an election roll these days. Having successfully orchestrated the lop-sided victories for the No Wall On The Waterfront’s 8 Washington takedown and Prop B passage, he ought to be looked to lead future progressive ballot initiative fights. I’d be surprised if he has to wait any later than this coming November as this next election promises to be chocked full of opportunities – from housing measures born out of the tenants convention to minimum wage raises to John Avalos’ “Let’s Elect Our Elected Officials Act”.