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Breed, Wiener endorse transphobic School Board candidate

Josephine Zhao is getting mainstream political support despite her transphobic statements

A startling number of local officials, including Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Scott Wiener, have endorsed for School Board a candidate who helped lead the opposition to gender-neutral bathrooms in schools, saying that the groundbreaking legislation would lead to “public moral issues, violence and even create conditions for more incidences of rape on school campuses.”

Josephine Zhao is getting mainstream political support despite her transphobic statements

Josephine Zhao also has the endorsement of Board of Equalization President Fiona Ma, Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu, and Sheriff Vicki Hennessy.

Zhao is best known as a board member and leader of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco, a radical landlord-rights group that opposes Ellis Act reform and anti-speculation taxes.

She also spoke out in 2013 against AB 1266, a member by then-Assemblymember Tom Ammiano that allows public-school students to use bathrooms and join sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

According to translations from the Chinese-language press, at a press conference opposing the measure:

Josephine Zhao, representative of the Asian-American Voters Organization stated that AB 1266 protects only 2% of those students who are transgender or questioning their sexual identities, yet offends and violates the rights and privacies of the other 98% of students.  Allowing male and female students to share bathrooms and showers will lead to public moral issues, violence, and even create conditions for more incidences of rape on school campuses.

“President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would cheer on Wiener and Breed for that endorsement,” trans activist Gabriel Haaland said. “In fact, one of the first things Trump and Devos did when they came into office was to rescind Obama’s guidelines/protections for transgender children, sending the clear message that they didn’t support transgender rights.”

When I asked Wiener why he appeared with Zhao at a banquet during his state Senate race, he said that he “doesn’t agree with all of my many supporters on every single issue.”

But there’s a difference between disagreements and accepting transphobia – and Wiener is now actively endorsing a candidate who has never apologized or backed away from her transphobic statements.

Breed’s office didn’t respond when I asked for comment on her endorsement.

The Harvey Milk Club Political Action Committee has voted to recommend a specific endorsement against Zhao and is planning a voter-education campaign around transphobia in the School Board race.

There are two trans candidates running for School Board, Martin Rawlings-Fein and Mia Satya. While transgender candidates have won elections in other cities, San Francisco has yet to elect a trans candidate to any public office.

The Chron hates ‘dark money’ — except in San Francisco

Ron Conway and John Diaz share a role with the Chron's big VisionSF project

From the annals of our last remaining daily print newspaper:

SF Chronicle Editorial Page Editor John Diaz has been crusading against “dark money” for some time now, and that’s a great thing for a newspaper to take on. Dark money corrupts elections; it’s a nonpartisan issue (although more dark money goes to Republicans than Democrats), and it’s all about public disclosure.

So good for Diaz. His latest ran Sunday.

Ron Conway and John Diaz share a role with the Chron’s big VisionSF project

But I am curious: Why did Diaz and the Chron’s editorial page completely ignored the dark money issues in the San Francisco mayor’s race?

It’s no secret what happened. Plutocrat Ron Conway urged his big-money pals to put money into independent-expenditure campaigns supporting London Breed. One of Conway’s tips: Use state, not local, superPACs so the money wouldn’t be disclosed until just before – or in some cases, not until after – the June 5 election.

So dark money flooded into the election. Millions of dollars of it. And Diaz, who strongly backed Breed, said nothing.

I emailed him to ask about this apparent contradiction – dark money is a big issue for the Chron everywhere but in its own hometown – but he hasn’t responded.

I also asked him about the Chron’s ties to Conway. We know that Conway is one the judges in the Chron’s Visionary of the Year Awards (his picture is right next to that of Diaz).

We know that Conway and outgoing Chron Publisher Jeffrey Johnson, who is now the president of Hearst Newspapers, served together on the board of the Bay Area Council.

We know that Johnson came to the Chron from a job at a private investment firm run by Ron Burkle, and that Burkle and Conway both work with Ashton Kucher.

So at least we know that Conway and the publisher of the Chron run in the same circles.

Does Conway fund the lavish “Visionary” dinner every year? What other ties does he have to the Chron?

We know this: Diaz has declined so far to answer those questions.

And while the paper is cozying up to the Ron Conways of the world, Diaz’s editorial page is making a big fuss about the fact that one DMV worker last year got caught taking naps on the job and a firefighter set up a tiki bar behind his house.

When I read the story and editorial on this, all I could think of was: That’s it? That’s the extent of corruption in California? Out of 132,047 state employees, an audit caught exactly one person napping?

And this is big news?

Seems to me the big news is that 132,046 state workers were not napping on the job. That’s a pretty good record. By my math, 99.999243 percent of state workers were awake and doing their jobs, based on this audit. I can’t imagine a private-sector company with that good a record.

I don’t think a fire official should build a tiki bar at a house owned by the public, but there are worse things that happen. A lot worse.

There are also hundreds of corporate loopholes and tax breaks in California that cost the state tens of thousands of times as much money as the poor soul napping at the DMV. That never seems to make the news, certainly not the Chron, which was a major cheerleader for the Twitter tax break.

You get the point.

Research assistance by Rosh Edwards

Dean Preston files for D5 supe

Dean Preston files for supervisor in D5

We just finished one election cycle, but the next one is already on us – and it’s shaping up as a key test of the newly elected mayor and her allies.

London Breed will take the oath of office July 11, and fairly shortly thereafter, will appoint her replacement for D5 supe. That person will not have to run until 2019, giving them a chance to build a record – but tenant advocate Dean Preston, who came close to unseating Breed in 2016, has already announced he is running for the office.

Dean Preston files for supervisor in D5

He’s running as a democratic socialist and will have significant momentum from the passage of Prop. F, which guarantees every tenantwho faces eviction the right to a lawyer. Preston was the initiative sponsor.

From his campaign statement:

As a democratic socialist, I believe that basic necessities like healthcare, housing, and education are human rights. In San Francisco, across the state and across this country, we need fundamental change and democratic socialists are leading the way. We can no longer tolerate a society of such vast inequality that billionaires are calling the shots in City Hall while thousands are left homeless on the streets every night. Enough is enough.

Preston has already been endorsed by Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin, and Jane Kim; former D5 Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Christina Olague, Democratic Party Chair David Campos; former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano; and former Mayor Art Agnos.

By announcing his run before Breed names her replacement, Preston has made it clear that he’s not running against any individual – he’s running in favor of a political agenda.

And since he won 48 percent of the vote in 2016, running against the incumbent board president, he will be formidable.

Now that D4 is in play, the progressives seem to have agreed to rally around Gordon Mar. Li Miao Lovett, a City College union activist, also filed to run, but this week decided that the progressive movement would be better off with one candidate. So she dropped out and endorsed and will fully support Mar.

Lovett had the support of the Bernicrats and Democratic Socialists of America, two groups of (mostly) young and (very) well organized activists who played a huge rule in the June passage of the tenant right-to-counsel law and the defeat of the Police Officers Association Taser measure.

But she told me this week that she thinks, given the short election cycle, that the resources ought to go into the progressive candidate with the best chance of winning. It was a move that we see too rarely in this town: For Lovett, the race was about the progressive agenda, not just about her.

Reporter Joe Eskenazi, in his daily text message, said that “if Mar was hoping to benefit from cadres of young, enthusiastic DSA volunteers stumping for a progressive female candidate and pushing a ranked-choice strategy – well, too bad.”

I’m not so sure. Gordon Mar has been a part of the progressive movement in this city for a long time, and if the DSA folks talk to him and look at his record, they may decide that he’s also worth stumping for.

I am a bit alarmed that the Coalition on Homelessness ballot measure that would tax big business to pay for a radical increase in funding to get homeless people off the streets is in trouble – in part because everyone these days relies on paid signature gatherers and the landlords in Mountain View are paying up to $40 a signature to repeal rent control.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez has the story here. It’s bizarre that real-estate interests on the Peninsula are buying up all the signature-gathering infrastructure – and undermining the ability of smaller operations to get progressive measure on the ballot.

But it’s not too late to do this with volunteers. The measure is only about 1,000 signatures short, and that’s 50 people gathering 20 a day. This is a big deal; you can help out by signing up here.

D4 supervisors race is now wide open

Gordon Mar with Sups. Hillary Ronen and Sandra Lee Fewer

The race for District Four supervisor is suddenly wide open – and there’s a real chance the progressives, who have been shut out in the Sunset since the return to district elections, could be competitive in November.

Gordon Mar, longtime labor and community activist and twin brother of former Sup. Eric Mar, filed papers Monday morning.

Gordon Mar with Sups. Hillary Ronen and Sandra Lee Fewer

A few hours later, Li Miao Lovett, a city college counselor who is active with the CCSF teachers’ union, filed her paperwork to run.

That immediately puts a district long represented by moderates into play; Mar will be a strong candidate who will have significant backing from labor in a district with a sizable population of union members. Lovett also has labor connections.

Both Mar and Lovett have lived in the district for years (mar 13, Lovett 3).

The presumed front-runner is Jessica Ho, legislative aide to Sup. Katy Tang, who startled the local political world when she decided at the last minute not to run for re-election.

Ho’s grandparents live in D4, but she only recently moved into the district. According to voter registration records, the only Jessica Ho living in D4 first registered in the district March 27, 2018.

Messages left at all of the contacts listed on her campaign filings were not returned. I got one email from a campaign staffer saying that “your message has been forwarded to the committee.”

Mar was surrounded by a large group of supporters, including Sups. Hillary Ronen and Sandra Lee Fewer. “We are partners in justice,” Ronen said. “He is a strong leader who is practical but has a passion for making sure working families, people of color, and immigrants are able to stay in this city.”

Fewer gave incumbent Sup. Katy Tang credit for not resigning mid-term, which would give the mayor an appointment. “I am thrilled that there is an open election where the residents of D4 can speak to the needs of the district.” She noted that the demographics of the district are changing, young families are moving in, and “this is a race we should be able to win.”

Lovett, with a somewhat smaller group, said that “we are pushing back against all the corporate forces that are taking power away from working people.”

Li Miao Lovett filed this afternoon

Lovett was raised in Chinatown and lived in the Richmond before moving to the Sunset.

Trevor McNeil, a teacher and moderate post member of the Democratic County Central Committee, has also filed. There are a number of other candidates who probably will not play a major role in the race.

Leno has conceded. Breed is the next mayor

Mayor London Breed with Yimby Action leaders Sonja Trauss and Laura Foote Clark

Mark Leno has conceded. Mayor London Breed will take office in July.

We will be talking more in the next couple of days about why this happened, the role of RCV, and the overall progressive outcome of the election. (This was the closest any progressive candidate has come to winning the Mayor’s Office since 1987; Matt Gonzalez put up a major fight in a traditional runoff in 2003, but lost by 6 percent.)

London Breed with Yimby Action leaders Sonja Trauss and Laura Foote Clark

The immediate politics are already starting: Who will Breed appoint to replace herself in D5? How will that change the makeup of the board? And who will be elected board president when Breed steps down?

There are now six progressive votes on the board, so I’d be surprised if that group can’t find a way to make sure one of them gets the job. It will only be for the rest of the year – when a new board takes office in January, 2019, a new president will be elected.

But incumbent board presidents always have an advantage, and if the progressives manage to hold on to six seats, that person could be in the powerful position for another two years.

Jane Kim would be an obvious contender, although she’s termed out after this year. I can see Aaron Peskin trying again, but I can also see the supes looking for someone else – and Hillary Ronen would be the most likely candidate.

Meanwhile, the new D5 supe will be able to serve until November, 2019 – which, by the way, is also when Breed will be on the ballot again. That’s not much time for someone to decide to challenge her.

Breed now well ahead with only 8,000 to count

It seems likely that Mayor London Breed will continue the policies of Mayor Ed Lee

It now appears likely that London Breed will be the next mayor of San Francisco.

There are only 8,000 ballots left to count, and Breed is ahead by more than 1,800 votes. There is no pattern in any of the votes counted since Election Day that would suggest Mark Leno can catch up.

It seems likely that Mayor London Breed will continue the policies of Mayor Ed Lee

In the end, her victory margin will probably be less than one percent – which is a good bit short of a mandate. That would also have been true if Leno won.

It’s clear this town remains divided: The Board of Supes just picked up a progressive majority at the same time that Breed, who was and remains part of the more pro-growth, pro-tech camp, is winning the top job.

There will be plenty of time to analyze the campaigns and talk about ranked-choice voting. There’s also plenty of time for progressives to think about 2019 – because Breed will face the voters again in 17 months.

But for now, barring some very unusual results from the remaining ballots, it’s time to start thinking about what the administration of Mayor Breed looks like.

And based on her campaign, and the people she works with and the ones who supported her, it’s likely that we won’t see a lot of major policy changes at City Hall. Breed will, I suspect, keep most of the Ed Lee department heads and City Hall insiders, and won’t do anything significantly different from what he did in terms of taxing, regulation, and spending money.

The same people who were influential in the Lee Administration will be influential in the Breed Administration.

It’s also likely that she will use her office to promote candidates for the Board of Supes in November who are more likely to agree with her agenda and support her.

That means progressives have a big challenge in districts 6 and 10. In both districts, Breed won a plurality – but not a majority – of the votes. The outcome of those races will determine the board majority for the next two years and for the crucial part of Breed’s administration.

And then there’s the issue of D5.

Breed will appoint her replacement – who will then have to face the voters in November. (UPDATE: This is wrong;  The earliest she can take office is July 10, and the City Charter says the appointee must run in an election 120 days out. It’s 119 days from July 10 to the November 2018 election. So the incumbent would not be on the ballot until November 2019). The person she chooses, and the political alignments that creates, will set the tone for her administration and for the direction of the city.

Ed Lee made big mistakes with his appointments in D3 and D8; neither of them was able to win re-election the first time they faced the voters. Breed represents a district that has among the most left-leaning voters in the city, and both district supervisors before her were stalwarts in the progressive movement.

If she appoints a person who is aligned with her politics, there will be a major battle in November. Dean Preston came close to unseating her as an incumbent; he or another progressive candidate would have a strong campaign against a moderate, pro-tech, pro-growth newcomer.

If Breed’s replacement in D5 is someone the progressives can work with, it will be a sign of a different type of politics at City Hall.

The new mayor won’t take office until mid July; the votes won’t be certified by the DOE until July 5, and then the supes need to certify them, too.

So while this race is close to over, the politics of San Francisco, 2018, are only beginning.

Breed’s lead grows, but not by much

London Breed at the Election Day lunch: Does she get the conservative vote?

With 17,000 ballots to go, London Breed leads in the mayor’s race by 1,601 votes – only a handful more than she had yesterday.

That means the votes delivered late – the ballots that were cast at City Hall on Election Day or delivered to polling places or postmarked by June 5 – are slightly more positive for Mark Leno than the previous few days’ returns.

Breed gained only 21 votes in this round

In fact, Jane Kim again picked up more votes than Leno, but not as many as Breed. The Kim second-place votes are what’s keeping this election close.

Still, Leno and Kim would have to do exceptionally well – better than they did on Election Day – with the remaining ballots if there’s any chance of Leno closing that gap.

From DOE:

The Department continues to review more than 17,000 ballots for processing.  This total includes approximately 3,000 vote-by-mail ballots and an estimated 14,000 provisional ballots.  

The Department must still process approximately 3,000 vote-by-mail ballots with valid postmarks received from the post office before Friday, June 8.  Additionally, the Department must re-tabulate any cards that required manual review after initial processing of vote-by-mail ballots.

Breed building up big lead with 25,000 still to count

Mayor London Breed with Yimby Action leaders Sonja Trauss and Laura Foote Clark

London Breed now leads by 1,580 votes, with about 25,000 votes to count – and it’s entirely possible that we won’t know the winner until the end of next week.

The final ballots that will be counted are 14,000 provisionals, some of them from people who registered on Election Day. The conventional wisdom is that those ballots will favor Mark Leno and Jane Kim.

But the trend toward Breed has been consistent with the late vote-by-mail ballots; she’s picked up votes every day since Election Day. And if that trend continues in the next two days, it’s going to be hard for Mark Leno to overtake her.

From political consultant Jim Stearns:

Ballots Counted June 10. This is a pretty balanced citywide sample. It includes 5,000 City Hall drop-off/voting center; 4,800 polling place VBM and 6,600 mail-in VBM. 

With a net gain of 1,082 votes for London Breed, this now means that Breed has achieved a margin of 2,726 votes out of 73,810 counted since election night. this is pretty identical to the absentees counted on Election Day — where she had a margin of 2,896 votes out of 78,223 cast. The notion that late VBM voters more closely resemble Election Day voters than early VBM voters doesn’t seem to hold up. 

There appear to be approximately 25,500 ballots left to count, although the DOE has appeared to disqualify (for now at least) almost 4,000 of the 14,000 provisionals.

At this point, Breed is clearly the favorite. However, from DOE:

Voters also cast nearly 14,000 provisional ballots on Election Day.  Preparations for counting these ballots will begin on Monday, June 11, with Department personnel labeling the provisional envelopes.  The opening of the envelopes for valid provisional ballots may begin on Tuesday, June 12.  The counting of provisional ballots may begin on Wednesday, June 13 and will continue for several days. 

So if it remains close in the next day or two, we could be biting our collective nails until maybe next Friday.

Breed takes the lead — by 498 votes

Sup. London Breed now leads by fewer than 500 votes

London Breed is now in the lead in the mayor’s race, by 498 votes.

The Department of Elections counted 23,000 more votes since yesterday, the biggest daily tally since Election Day, and the pattern we’ve seen has continued:  Breed is getting more first-place votes than Leno, by a fair amount (she picked up about 8,000, Leno about 5,000; Kim, however, got 6,000 more votes, and her second-places continue to lean heavily to Leno).

Sup. London Breed now leads by fewer than 500 votes

From DOE:

The Department continues to review approximately 42,000 ballots for processing.  This total includes approximately 28,000 vote-by-mail ballots and an estimated 14,000 provisional ballots. 

The Department received 16,000 vote-by-mail ballots from the post office on Election Day and after including nearly 3,000 of these ballots in today’s report, all of these envelopes have been open and the cards have been processed.  However, any cards that require manual review from this group of cards would still require another processing stage. 

Last night before midnight the United States Postal Service allowed Department personnel access to the main postal facility on Evans Street to obtain late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots.  The Department obtained 150 vote-by-mail ballots, 40 of which were postmarked on or before Election Day and can be processed.

Voters delivered approximately 44,000 ballots to polling places on Election Day and approximately 5,700 of those ballots remain to be processed.

Voters also cast nearly 14,000 provisional ballots on Election Day and these ballots will not be processed until next week.  

Additionally, the remaining unprocessed ballots consist of approximately 3,000 vote-by-mail ballots that voters delivered to City Hall Drop-Off Stations on Election Day as well as approximately 3,000 ballots cast at the City Hall Voting Center.

Mission Local says that the provisionals “are expected to slant heavily to Leno and Kim.” I think that depends in part of how many of them are people who registered to vote on Election Day – which I think will be mostly Kim and Breed supporters.

Jim Stearns, who worked on the Leno campaign, posted a map on Facebook showing that many of the votes counted today came from the west side of town:

The red areas show where today’s ballots came from

On the other hand, the majority of the remaining VBM ballots are from areas where Breed has done well:

This is by no means over. But if the pattern that we have seen in the past couple of days continues, then Breed will be in a strong position when the provisional ballots are counted at the end.

By the way: If you are wondering why this takes so long, it’s because so many people vote by mail -– and drop those ballots off or send them in right around Election Day. Those all have to be hand-processed.

You want quicker results? Send in your ballot early, or vote at your precinct.

Mayor’s race even closer with 64,900 votes still to count

The Kim-Leno vote is keeping Leno in the race

The mayor’s race got even tighter with today’s results, and now Mark Leno is only ahead by 114 votes in the ranked-choice tally.

He remains ahead largely because of the strong Jane Kim vote; Kim picked up about 5,000 more votes in this round of counting, more than Leno, who picked up about 4,800. Breed picked up about 6,500.

The Kim-Leno vote is keeping Leno in the race

The vast majority of Kim’s second-place votes are still going to Leno.

From the Department of Elections:

Today’s report includes 19,000 votes that were tallied since yesterday’s report.  The additional votes are from approximately 6,000 ballots that the post office delivered to the Department on Election Day.  Also, votes from approximately 13,000 ballots that voters dropped off at polling places are included in today’s report.

The Department continues to review approximately 64,900 ballots for processing.  This total includes approximately 51,000 vote-by-mail ballots and an estimated 14,000 provisional ballots. 

Overall, so far, the late VBM ballots have broken somewhere between the early VBMs – which had Breed in the lead – and the Election Day vote, which left Leno ahead by more than 1,200 votes.

I got some interesting data from Corey Cook, former USF political science professor who now runs a program in Boise. He’s been following the race from there, and sent me the following (based on yesterday’s numbers, but you get the point):



Total Pct


Breed First



Leno First



Kim First



Alioto First



Has Breed



Has Leno



Has Kim



Has Alioto



Pct of Candidate’s First Place Votes

Leno votes to Kim



Leno votes to Breed




Breed votes to Leno



Breed votes to Kim




Kim votes to Leno



Kim votes to Breed




Slates with All Three 





















 While the Chron continues to attack RCV and say that Leno could be elected with only 25 percent of the vote, look at the actual ballots and you see a very different pattern.

Leno is actually on top in terms of the number of people who listed him as one of their three choices – he’s got 65 percent. Breed is on 62 percent of the ballots, and Kim on 57 percent.

Very, very few voters put all three names on their ballot.

You can also see that far more Kim voters put Leno Number Two than Leno voters did for Kim. Which means that if the numbers change and Kim winds up in second place, Breed will win easily.

Here’s a map from Jim Stearns that shows where the remaining VBM votes are. The darker areas are places where there are more VBM votes. You will note that a lot of them are in the center of the city, which tends to be more progressive.

If anyone can read these numbers and predict who the next mayor will be, you are smarter than me.