Campaign trail: Kim ad attacks Wiener bill

Plus: How the ranked-choice voting will play out ... and why would Angela Alioto (or anyone else) want the POA endorsement?

On the eve of the first hearing on SB 827, Sup. Jane Kim released an ad directly taking on the billand linking her campaign even more directly to an issue that is stirring up considerable anger in the neighborhoods.

The ad indicates that Kim and her advisors believe the Wiener bill is deeply unpopular in places like the Richmond, the Sunset, the Excelsior, and West Portal, which she mentions in the ad.

Jane Kim’s ad talks about how Scot Wiener’s bill would impact the city’s neighborhoods

She says that the bill will allow “unlimited luxury condos,” which “are not the answer to our housing crisis” and argues that “we can build more housing without destroying our neighborhoods.”

The ad is also part of Kim’s effort to make it clear that there are key distinctions between the candidates (and that the Chron was wrong in January when it saidthe main candidates “don’t have a lot of policy differences.”) Sup. London Breed is a supporter of SB 827. While Kim doesn’t mention Breed, don’t be surprised if she starts pointing that out more directly in the weeks to come.

When we met with Alioto last week, she complained that the news media wasn’t paying enough attention to the race. “If I had gotten the police union endorsement in 2003 (the last time she ran for mayor) it would have been on the front pages,” she said.

I agree – the race that will define the city’s direction perhaps for a decade or more is getting less play than it deserves. And the fact that the San Francisco Police Officers Association endorsed Alioto probably should be front-page news.

Because it pretty much guarantees that she won’t get any of the progressive support she’s had in the past.

Alioto always ran as part of the city’s past and future. She courted voters who remembered her (pretty conservative, pro-development) dad, Mayor Joe Alioto, fondly – along with voters who liked her stand on public power, LGBT rights, and homelessness. Her compassion is real, and she has run in the past as “the heart of San Francisco.”

But there are very, very few voters who label themselves as liberal or progressive in this town who find the POA anything but toxic. This is an organization that supports brutal, corrupt, cops, that wants to overturn the entire concept of civilian oversight to force unregulated Tasers on a city (and police chief) that want controls on the stun guns, and that is the single biggest obstacle to reform in the department.

I do think the POA endorsement is front-page news. But in political terms, I’m not sure why Alioto wants it.

Kim and Leno will appear together Wednesday/18, with the Chinese Progressive Association, to get the group’s joint endorsement. That will cement the ranked-choice voting strategy of the two campaigns: Kim endorsed Leno as her second choice early in the campaign, and Leno has now endorsed Kim.

Breed so far hasn’t shown much of an RCV strategy at all; in fact, her allies made the worst mistake you can make in this sort of race by attacking Leno (potentially turning off a significant number of voters – the Scott Wiener backers — who might have gone Leno-Breed. Maybe some still will.)

So let’s look at how the RCV calculus is going to play out.

I am going to assume that the most recent polls are relatively accurate. That may be wrong, but we have no other data. What we can expect to see, based on these polls, is Breed, Leno, and Kim finishing at the top, within a few percentage points of each other, in an order we can’t predict.

At that point, the second-place votes get redistributed, starting from the bottom.

There are a few minor candidates who won’t get many votes. Then Amy Farah Weiss, who might get 5 percent, will be eliminated. Most of her seconds probably go to Kim – but there won’t be enough votes to put anyone over the top.

Then Alioto gets eliminated – and if anyone knows where those second-place votes go, you’re way smarter than me. The old progressives who fondly remember her (pre-POA) positions may tend to Kim or Leno; the old conservatives who fondly remember her dad may go to Breed (or not list a second-place vote at all). Either way, it’s not going to leave any of the top candidates with 50 percent plus one.

So the second-place votes of the person in third will decide the next mayor of San Francisco. Think about that: The second-place votes of the third-place candidate will determine the direction of this city for a decade.

If Breed is in third, her second-place votes will put either Leno or Kim over the top. If Leno is in third, his second-place votes will elect either Kim or Breed. If Kim is in third, her second-place votes will make either Leno or Breed mayor.

The bottom line: There is every reason in this election to list a second choice, because if your candidate doesn’t come in first, that’s the vote that will count. Consider it a runoff, and imagine what you would do if your first choice isn’t in the final round. Which of the remaining candidates to you prefer? That’s your Number Two.

You get to vote for three. I don’t think the third-place votes will even come into play – but it does no first-choice candidate any hard to add a third choice if you want to.

Oh, and there’s a very good chance that we won’t know who are next mayor is until a week or more after the election. If it’s close, election-day absentees will make a difference, and it takes a few days to count them all.

The superPAC supporting London Breed got another $18,000 this week, but so far, the really big money — the hundreds of thousands of dollars that could change the outcome of the race — hasn’t shown up. That means one of two things: The big donors are waiting until the very end to pour in money, so we won’t know who paid for the last-minute ads until after the election … or there’s not a lot of big money coming into this PAC. We will keep you posted.