Campaign trail: Kim gets progressive endorsements, Breed wants Tasers …

Can SF's Democrats endorse a candidate for mayor? And what do the polls mean in an RCV race?

While Mark Leno is getting a lot of press attention for his campaign, and a growing number of organizations are doing a ranked-choice strategy of dual-endorsements, the three politicians who have actually run for mayor as progressives in the past 20 years are endorsing Sup. Jane Kim.

Matt Gonzalez and John Avalos both endorsed Jane Kim

Tom Ammiano, John Avalos, and Matt Gonzalez have all sided with Kim:

As a former teacher and education advocate throughout my career, I feel strongly that our next Mayor must be a person who doesn’t just pay lip service to education but actually delivers meaningful results that improve kids’ lives,” said Ammiano. “With her experience as School Board President and as the Supervisor who spearheaded the groundbreaking Free City College program, Jane Kim has shown she is the only candidate we can count on to be San Francisco’s education champion as Mayor. I am proud to endorse her.”

“I am endorsing Jane Kim for mayor because she is the most progressive candidate in the field and shares my commitment to economic justice and neighborhood empowerment,” said Gonzalez.”

“Jane Kim has devoted her career to fighting for all San Francisco residents – to make our diverse city more equitable so that everyone can share in its wealth,” said Avalos.

Kim is clearly working to solidify support on the left – and at the same time, Sup. London Breed seems to be making a move to the pro-law-enforcement side.

Breed recently announced that she supports arming the SF cops with Tasers – a move that has not impressed the police union, which claims it’s just a political effort to reach out to more moderate voters.

Breed, in her comments on the issue, said she wants Tasers because she doesn’t like guns – which is an odd statement, because the evidence shows that Tasers don’t replace guns or reduce police shootings:

The leading manufacturer of CEWs specifically states in its training materials, “CEWs do NOT replace deadly-force options.” Most departments that have CEWs instruct officers NOT to use them in deadly force situations because they cannot be relied upon to stop a threat.

Instead, cop use Tasers for suspects who are “resisting arrest” or engaging in other behavior that can often be resolved through the type of de-escalation techniques the city was starting to adopt.

So the choice isn’t guns or Tasers (unless Breed wants the police to give up their firearms, which doesn’t seem likely). The choice is Tasers or de-escalation and other less-violent techniques.

So that’s an issue that clearly separates the candidates – Breed and Angela Alioto want Tasers. Kim and Leno don’t.

Meanwhile, the Police Officers Association hasn’t endorsed anyone which is probably good for most of the candidates. At one time, the POA made a candidate appear to be a friend of law enforcement, but that organization has gone so far around the bend that at this point, it’s endorsement is probably a net negative.

As Sup. Aaron Peskin put it, “I can’t remember the POA supporting me in any election that I’ve won – and I can’t remember any election that I’ve lost.”

The Democratic Party meets in San Diego this weekend, and could potentially endorse candidates for statewide office. If Antonio Villaraigosa can’t block an endorsement for Lite Guv Gavin Newsom, it would be a blow to his campaign.

It will be another month before the local Democratic Party weighs in on the June ballot, but already the jockeying is underway: The party endorsement, which includes placement on a slate card that goes to all the city’s registered Dems, is highly coveted.

Here’s the interesting challenge:

Leno and Kim together may have enough support to keep Breed from winning. But the Democratic County Central Committee, under its current rules, can’t do a dual endorsement. The candidates have to be ranked, 1-2-3.

That means if Leno and Kim want the top two slots, one of them will have to agree to be Number Two. If that doesn’t work, the DCCC probably won’t be able to endorse anyone.

The polls are supposedly all over the map at this point; the Chamber of Commerce had Breed far ahead, but a more recent poll has Leno in the lead. None of the polls have Angela Alioto anywhere in range of a victory.

But again, the RCV comes into play here. If Kim and Leno do, indeed, manage to run a campaign where they and their allies work together, and the polls stay consistent, then as long as it’s close at the top, one of those two could win. If a significant number of Leno or Kim supporters put Breed as a second choice, and she comes in first, then she could go over the top.

Given three leading candidates, the odds that Alioto, or Amy Farah Weiss, or anyone else will be a factor looks pretty slim. 

At this point.