Kim and Breed file; Herrera doesn’t. The race is on

Can progressives make ranked-choice voting work -- or will two competing candidates leave room for the status quo?

Sups. London Breed and Jane Kim both filed to run for mayor this morning, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera did not, so we know what the race is going to look like:

Kim and Mark Leno both have strong progressive support and are running as candidates of change. Breed will have all the money she needs, the support of the entire Big Tech and Real Estate power structure, and will be the candidate who would continue the policies of the late Mayor Ed Lee.

Sup. Jane Kim says this election is “an opportunity for the city to take a new direction.”

Angela Alioto – former supervisor, successful trial lawyer, and former mayoral candidate – is also a factor, particularly among older voters, who may remember her time on the Board of Supes and her father’s time as mayor.

But for people who want a fundamental change at City Hall, a ranked-choice voting strategy is going to be critical. “The progressives fought for ranked-choice voting, and now the progressives have to make it work,” Kim told me.

In her comments after filing, Kim talked about her record – working for higher levels of affordable housing than most developers wanted to offer, leading the charge for free City College, and now pushing a measure for $100 million in funding for child care.

“My track record sets me apart,” she said.

She, like Leno, said she is running to shift the direction of local policy: “Over the last 20 years, the city has been largely under the same type of administration, and it hasn’t worked for many of us,” she said. “This is a big opportunity for our city to take a new direction.”

She talked about economic equality: “San Francisco now has the fastest growing income gap in the nation.”

She said she supported Leno’s call for candidates to reject outside independent-expenditure funding.

Acting Mayor London Breed, surrounded by young people filed for mayor then refused to talk to the press

Breed was in the Department of Elections when Kim’s supporters arrived. She filed her paperwork, then walked out and said she was not talking to reporters.

Breed at some point is going to have to address the key question in this race: For vulnerable communities in San Francisco, the policies of the last three administrations, particularly the Lee Administration, have been a disaster. The tech boom has, as Kim noted, driven radical income inequality and forced hundreds of thousands of San Franciscans out of the city. Breed hasn’t yet said how her policies would be different.

In an example of how ranked-choice voting could work, Sup Sandra Lee Fewer is supporting both Kim and Leno

So now the organizing work begins. Can two candidates seeking many of the same votes – the people who want a change in policy direction – run a campaign that takes advantage of ranked-choice voting and allows one of them to win? Or will Breed, with the power of incumbency and the big money (and the discipline of the power structure, which has cleared the field for her) wind up on top?

The future of the city is at stake.

The supes will have a chance next Tuesday to decide on an interim mayor, someone not in the race who would fill in for the next five months. That takes six votes. If nobody can get to six, Breed stays in both jobs until June.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, I agree the final RCV round will have only two candidates. My point is that Alioto could be third in the semi-final round, with Leno and Kim ahead. For that to happen, Alioto would have to be ranked higher than Breed on a majority of ballots that include Breed. Identifying issues that support the perception that Alioto is “more moderate” than Breed would help make that happen. Essentially, pick off Breed’s “most moderate” supporters.

    Of course, I assume there are more either Leno or Kim supporters than “most moderates” and Alioto won’t appear on “least moderate’s” ballots. Otherwise in my scenario, Alioto would win the final round.

  2. The first candidates out – the lowest vote-getters – see their voters’ second and third-place votes allocated to candidates still in the race.

    Leno, Breed, and Kim, and maybe Alioto, will get the most first place votes, as things now stand.

    This one is going to be very unpredictable since it is unlikely anyone will get past 50 percent to win with three top candidates still in the instant runoff count – and it’s likely that Breed, Kim, or Leno will be disqualified in third and their supporters’ second and third-place votes will be re-allocated. Hey Rosh, which one of these should drop out now so that doesn’t happen?

    Dennis opted out because there was no path to victory for him and you can’t run for mayor twice and still be taken seriously for future ambitions. There’s a slim path to victory for Weiss and Alioto, and I think they both know that. Weiss got 23,000 voters in the last mayor’s race, and Alioto got 24,827 in the AD 19 DCCC race in June 2016 (Kim got 44,106 in AD 17, London 28,254 in AD 17).

    Spoiled ballots because you can only rank three candidates are more of a spoiler here than any of the candidates running.

    Unpredictability in the 4th-8th place spots makes all five candidates who’ve gotten more than 20,000 voters in recent election viable, even if Alioto and Weiss have the hardest go.

  3. Tim! You wrote what, I guess, was meant to be an informative article about an election, but *somehow* failed to mention all the candidates that are running. Running for mayor…of San Francisco. You know. The election you decided to write irresponsibly about? Your non-opinion article in which you shamefully neglected candidates? Eh, you know.

    It’s rather poor journalism to ignore the existence of everyone running. Your ommision shows you are either potus-level uninformed, or it was a lazy biased attempt at manipulation. None of these are qualities that should not exist in an “investigative journalist.”

    Some bias is unavoidable, but seriously, ignoring them is just disappointing and sloppy.

    Ideally you would have reported who was running and given them all a sentence or 2, or hell, maybe even a small paragraph.. But at the very VERY least you should have acknowledged that they exist. “Also running for mayor___” and just list their names. That would have been better.

    Factual facts for a fact based piece of political journalism.

    Even if a potted plant were officially running. Even if your o̶p̶i̶n̶i̶o̶n̶ article began with that list of names and, “They don’t have a chance and I don’t care that they are running, so let’s talk about these other folks.” That would still have been better.

    It would have at least been more honest than your neglectful “news”.

  4. As others have commented, it seems odd and actually unprofessional to leave out a candidate, Amy Weiss, in your “coverage.” Disagreeing with someone’s politics or approach is understandable, but ignoring one’s existence in the race is disrespectful. Additionally, Weiss is a huge progressive asset for ranked choice voters who may have another first choice but have definitive last choices! I’m really impressed with Weiss’ work with homeless individuals and encampments, and most of all her spearheading last election’s 1-2-3 groundswell – she’s the embodiment of grass roots and should not be ignored!

  5. Agreed that it’s possible. Malia Cohen’s supervisor vote went to I think round 4, but that was relatively small numbers and there was no polarizing politician in the race. I’m obviously betting the June election is decided in round 2.

    It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but Weiss would best benefit the progressive odds of winning by stepping out of the race — something we just witnessed Herrera do on the moderate side.

  6. Actually, canny progressives might help promote Alioto as she can be a spoiler for Breed. Every Conservative ballot with Alioto ahead of Breed is likely to help Leno/Kim. There’s also a consideration of whether a progressive prefers Alioto to Breed. In that case they should vote Alioto as third choice. Weiss may be a vote of conscience for some. But due to SF identity politics, she can’t possibly garner 50% of any plausible IRV round.

  7. They might be if they choose someone outside of [Kim, Leno, Breed] for the first two. But a Kim, Leno, Breed ranking isn’t going to help Breed at all.

  8. I agree with what others have commented. Please include Amy Farah Weiss in your discussions of mayoral candidates!

  9. Actually, Amy is much more likely to angle Breed out of getting ranked by progressive voters. Otherwise people will just order Kim, Leno, and Breed and breed with get plenty of 3rd-choice votes. Because according to Tim Redmond, there are only 3 people actually running in this race.

  10. If Kim & Leno are smart, they will align with Weiss to make it a clear 1-2-3 that excludes Breed & Alioto votes. And people should put Weiss first because she actually has concrete plans for how to heal this city, which I have not heard from any of the other candidates as yet:

    -Transitioning 1,000+ people off of the streets into Safe Organized Spaces this year
    -Lifting all boats with a “tighten from the top” approach that bolsters the base (especially during lean budget cycles)
    -Building thousands of affordable housing units while supporting small property owners and unions
    -Making our streets and BART stations safer, cleaner, and more vibrant through job creation for mental health workers, artists, and underemployed
    -Making SF a state leader in equitable access to cannabis for harm reduction and healing
    -Ramping up climate justice mobilization and CleanPowerSF to fulfill Gavin Newsom’s goal of 100% renewable
    -Using technology to support voter engagement and open source democracy
    -Supporting economic justice and reparations to sustain and grow our African American community

  11. If you think Weiss doesn’t have enough experience, you haven’t been closely following her efforts to work with Room 200 and the other city departments on various projects. She hasn’t held an elected office, and that doesn’t mean she is inexperienced. She has enough experience of literally DOING THE WORK that our elected officials refuse to do that she is more than ready to be Mayor.

  12. Tim, I have question that I’d like you to respond to, if you can spare the time, and I’d like to encourage other readers to ‘like’ this comment if you would also like an answer to my question.

    I really don’t understand what you are doing here. In your article you say, ‘for people who want a fundamental change at City Hall, a ranked-choice voting strategy is going to be critical.’ And yet, you offer us no suggestion on how progressive voters might actually strategically use ranked choice voting to affect a change. Are you trying to leave us in suspense?

    In the 2015 mayoral race, you – and the other media in San Francisco – completely ignored 3 potentially viable progressive candidates who allied themselves under the slogan ‘Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee.’ You insisted that Lee was running ‘unopposed.’ And yet, with less than $45,000 combined and no media coverage, these 3 candidates garnered 36.7% of the overall vote (Lee only got 55.3%).

    To put this in perspective, if less than 9,800 voters (of the 184,000 total votes) had chosen the 1-2-3 strategy that you chose to ignore, the election would have – at a minimum – gone into instant runoff. Wouldn’t this have been a ranked-choice voting strategy to get behind, if for no other reason than to send a clear message to Lee that his Conway-backed success is no match for the power of the people of San Francisco united against big money?

    As one of the most powerful voices in journalism in the Bay Area, you certainly could have inspired a few thousand more votes to go from Lee to the 1-2-3 merely by highlighting some of their well-thought-out ideas for the city (and I’m especially referring to Amy Farah Weiss’ amazing platform to end homeless encampments and increase affordable housing here).

    But that’s all in the past now. I only dwell on it here to illustrate a point that is completely relevant to the 2018 mayoral race: Once again you are engaging in what appears to be little more than hand-wringing by begging the question of who will defeat the Conway machine and pleading with progress voters to utilize ranked-choice voting to their advantage, and yet you offer us not even the slightest suggestion for how we might do this.

    You are once again choosing to ignore Amy Farah Weiss and the amazing proposals that she has for healing this city. You ask, ‘Can two candidates seeking many of the same votes – the people who want a change in policy direction – run a campaign that takes advantage of ranked-choice voting and allows one of them to win?’ This would be a good question if the circumstances were different, but the fact is that there are, not two, but – once again – 3 viable progressive candidates running in this race.

    So here is my question for you: Rather than leaving us hanging in your article, why don’t you offer the progressives of San Francisco an actual strategic solution? Here’s one that I think makes a whole lot of sense: 1) give Weiss the mention that she deserves and highlight her ideas (she’s earned it), and 2) suggest that progressive voters choose Weiss / Kim / Leno (in any order) as their 1-2-3 in an effort to form a coalition against Breed & Alioto. Your thoughts on this? I hope that you will sincerely consider what I am bringing up here and grace us all with an adequate response. Because your opinion on this matter could truly help make or break this election, and if you’re going to write an editorial, please offer us solutions because we have enough doubts already.

  13. Tim the continual total blackout of even mentioning Amy Farah Weiss is bordering on bad Journalism. At this point it seems like some personal vendetta.

  14. Tim, I have question that I’d like you to respond to, if you can spare the time, and I’d like to encourage other readers to ‘like’ this comment if you would also like an answer to my question.

    I really don’t understand what you are doing here. In your article you say, “for people who want a fundamental change at City Hall, a ranked-choice voting strategy is going to be critical.” And yet, you offer us no suggestion on how progressive voters might actually strategically use ranked choice voting to affect a change. Are you trying to leave us in suspense?

    In the 2015 mayoral race, you – and the other media in San Francisco – completely ignored 3 potentially viable progressive candidates who allied themselves under the slogan “Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee.” You insisted that Lee was running “unopposed.” And yet, with less than $45,000 combined and no media coverage, these 3 candidates garnered 36.7% of the overall vote (Lee only got 55.3%).

    To put this in perspective, if less than 9,800 voters (of the 184,000 total votes) had chosen the 1-2-3 strategy that you chose to ignore, the election would have – at a minimum – gone into instant runoff. Wouldn’t this have been a ranked-choice voting strategy to get behind, if for no other reason than to send a clear message to Lee that his Conway-backed success is no match for the power of the people of San Francisco united against big money?

    As one of the most powerful voices in journalism in the Bay Area, you certainly could have inspired a few thousand more votes to go from Lee to the 1-2-3 merely by highlighting some of their well-thought-out ideas for the city (and I’m especially referring to Amy Farah Weiss’ amazing platform to end homeless encampments and increase affordable housing here).

    But that’s all in the past now. I only dwell on it here to illustrate a point that is completely relevant to the 2018 mayoral race: Once again you are engaging in what appears to be little more than hand-wringing by begging the question of who will defeat the Conway machine and pleading with progress voters to utilize ranked-choice voting to their advantage, and yet you offer us not even the slightest suggestion for how we might do this.

    You are once again choosing to ignore Amy Farah Weiss and the amazing proposals that she has for healing this city. You ask, “Can two candidates seeking many of the same votes – the people who want a change in policy direction – run a campaign that takes advantage of ranked-choice voting and allows one of them to win?” This would be a good question if the circumstances were different, but the fact is that there are, not two, but – once again – 3 viable progressive candidates running in this race.

    So here is my question for you: Rather than leaving us hanging in your article, why don’t you offer the progressives of San Francisco an actual strategic solution? Here’s one that I think makes a whole lot of sense: 1) give Weiss the mention that she deserves and highlight her ideas (she’s earned it), and 2) suggest that progressive voters choose Weiss / Kim / Leno (in any order) as their 1-2-3 in an effort to form a coalition against Breed & Alioto. Your thoughts on this? I hope that you will sincerely consider what I am bringing up here and grace us all with an adequate response. Because your opinion on this matter could truly help make or break this election, and if you’re going to write an editorial, please offer us solutions because we have enough doubts already.

  15. I don’t see how you can run realistic numbers, given the current candidates, and come up with a likely scenario that shows Weiss getting votes will help get a progressive elected.

    London Breed is the one who will benefit from Weiss receiving first and second rank votes. Your scenario doesn’t pencil out.

  16. Kim and Tim should be supporting Amy’s bid because she’s the most likely person to throw votes to Kim or Leno – and she got 23,000 first-place voters last time (no IRV ran because Lee got more than 50%).

  17. Strange that this “progressive” journal left out a progressive candidate who garnered 80’000 votes from San Francisans in the last mayoral race who is running again this time around. I guess 48 Hills doesn’t want us to know about all the candidates running for mayor — just the ones they prefer?

  18. Hey Tim, You missed a very viable Progressive in your coverage. Please include Amy Farah Weiss in future discussions about the 2018 mayoral race. Thank you.

  19. With ranked choice you have to be very careful how you align your votes. Weiss doesn’t have the experience and is lucky she will be spared the wrath of the Conway machine. Kim won’t be so lucky.

  20. To counter that (although it would be Kim not Alioto) it will be crucial for Breed to focus on securing second choice votes. She will use her incumbency to help with that — it’s key for her.

    Breed is fine scheduling a vote because she holds all the chips, but you will not be seeing her support an interim mayor. She will defer to her colleagues, or whatever they are called at this point. This makes it seem that she is allowing a fair process while assuming no risk.

  21. Even after the Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee campaign got close to pushing Lee into a run-off after you and your colleagues completely ignored the grassroots campaign, you still leave out mention of Amy Farah Weiss and the other candidates running for SF Mayor. Shame on you, Tim. SHAME. ON. YOU.

  22. There are other viable candidates running for mayor. Please include Amy Farah Weiss in future discussions about the 2018 mayoral race.

  23. OK. I would argue that Agnos, Olague, Christensen all had the power of incumbency and still managed to blow it. You can make us excuses for each one; Breed might find her own excuse to lose just like they did.

    And I also don’t agree that, in political terms, 2003 was a LONG time ago. Mark Leno was already done with his 8 year BOS term in 2003. The guy who won that 2003 election is still only 50 years old today.

  24. I very strongly disagree. In local races, the power of incumbency is HUGE. San Francisco hasn’t had a mayoral election without an incumbent on the ballot in a LONG time. We should have one.

  25. I hope we don’t get another rank-choice debacle like the one that ushered in Jean Quan in Oakland. Hello Mayor Angela Alioto!

  26. I think you guys are overstating the value of a 5 month unelected ‘incumbency’. Especially if Lee was as unpopular as you say. See: Ford, Gerald R.

    Look at it this way…if Breed isn’t up to the job the voters could get a pretty good sense of it.

    In many municipal governments the Mayor is the permanent chairman of the legislative body. And a caretaker without any responsibility to the electorate isn’t ideal either.

  27. The board needs to decide on SOMEONE. That was the whole purpose of the city charter adjustment that requires vacant seats to be filled by special election and not appointment. If you don’t bother to appoint a non-candidate as interim mayor, what’s the point of holding a special Election? If the board waffles, it’s their fault that Breed will have the power of incumbency.

  28. Somebody better get to six. To her credit, Supervisor Breed said she would go along with whatever the Board decides, but, as her constituents pointed out, it is unrealistic to think that she can or should hold too many positions at one time. There are too many conflicts of interests and we need to uphold a separation of powers. We need someone who can put together a budget working with the Board of supervisors and then leave them to deal with the results after the June election. With so many people running we are in for a wild ride.

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