Campaign Trail

Teacher’s Union endorses Wiener opponent for state Senate

Jackie Fielder got a big endorsement from the Teacher's Union.

The March State Senate primary in San Francisco is heating up.

Jackie Fielder, the Indigenous-Mexicana queer activist who has been involved in the campaign for a public bank in San Francisco, just scored the endorsement of the United Educators of San Francisco, just weeks before vote by mail ballots drop in San Francisco for the primary on March 3rd.

Jackie Fielder got a big endorsement from the Teacher’s Union.

UESF, with its 6,000 members, is a significant force in local politics and the largest union to support the upstart challenger.

Taking on incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener is a formidable task. He has the name recognition and pretty much unlimited access to campaign money. So far, according to campaign finance records, he has raised $1.6 million for his re-election.

Fielder has, according to her campaign, raised $96,000.

However, Fielder has racked up endorsements from Supervisors Gordon Mar and Dean Preston; Board of Education Commissioners Gabriela Lopez, Alison Collins, Mark Sanchez, and Fauuga Moliga; the SF Tenants Union, the ILWU, the SF Berniecrats, the SF Young Dems, the Harvey Milk Club, The League of Pissed Off Voters, and Alicia Garza, founder of Black Lives Matter.

Wiener has the Democratic Party power structure, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. Mayor Londo Breed is supporting him. He also has five supes: Rafael Mandelman, Ahsha Safai, Catherine Stefani, Norman Yee and Shamann Walton.

The UESF endorsement is significant because it represents the largest labor union that has decided to oppose Wiener – and it’s based on educational issues.

According to Anabel Ibanez, UESF’s political director, one of UESF’s main concerns is the privatization of public education, particularly with corporate, for-profit, non-union charter schools. “Corporate charter schools, the way they’re set up now, pose a real problem and take funding from public education,” Ibanez said.

And much of the debate between district and charter schools comes down to funding. California ties education funding to enrollment and when charter schools open, the resources that go towards non-charter public schools dwindle.

Wiener was named the California Charter Schools Association’s “Elected Official of the Year” in 2018. In his last race, charter school associations were among his top contributors in funding.

UESF president Susan Solomon said the union is worried about accountability. While corporate, for-profit, non-union charter schools receive public dollars, they operate as independent private entities that don’t have the same accountability tasks that non-charter schools have.

This endorsement also comes in the wake of a decision regarding the New School, a K-5 charter school in San Francisco that was granted the right to expand to K-8 just last week. Though Assembly Bill 1505 and 1507 were signed into law last year to give local school districts more control over approving charter schools and provides more accountability measures for charters, the state overturned the local School Board’s efforts to reject the expansion.

And the union doesn’t see Wiener as an ally. “Although state Sen. Wiener is not on the education committee, he could have had an impact,” Ibanez said “The state should understand why the local jurisdiction denied them their application to expand to K-8. This is taking money away from our public classrooms and this is what our educators need to provide a quality education.”

“Jackie is a strong proponent of public education and members feel very strongly that she understands this crisis that we’re impacted by,” Ibanez shared.

UESF also sees housing as another major concern. There are more than 1800 reported students who are experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, as well as educators and school staff experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

Wiener did not support Prop C, the measure to raise taxes on big businesses to fund housing for homeless people. He didn’t support State Prop 10 in 2018, which would have allowed for stronger local rent control, or Prop E “Affordable and Educator Housing” in 2019.

Recent data shows that Wiener takes more real estate money than any other politician in the California legislature.

“I view public education and housing as a human right, whereas my opponent views education and housing as private goods to be commodified,” said Fielder. “I grew up in predominantly public schools and am a proud product of the public school system.”

“As senator, I would like to push for a moratorium on charter schools, link educator and employee pay with the cost of living, make public colleges tuition free, and support statewide loan forgiveness programs for public school educators, paraeducators, counselors, and other school staff,” Fielder said. “I’d accomplish these goals by working closely with UESF and other educator unions already fighting for these changes across the state and defend educator funding from charter schools and real estate developers who are looking for educational funds to subsidize their luxury and market rate development.”


With Fewer retiring, Connie Chan takes up progressive banner in D1

Connie Chan announces she is running for D1 supervisor

District 1 has a remarkable political history. It’s not, by definition, one of the most left-leaning parts of the city. The voters who tend to be the most progressive are towards the center of the city, in Districts 5, 6, and 9.

But since the return of district elections, D1 has consistently elected progressive supervisors – Jake McGoldrick, Eric Mar, and Sandra Lee Fewer.

Connie Chan announces she is running for D1 supervisor

The only other parts of town that can claim that heritage are Districts 9 (Tom Ammiano, David Campos, Hillary Ronen) and 6 (Chris Daly, Jane Kim, and Matt Haney).

It’s never been easy – the progressive candidates have had to fight for every vote, and have often won by narrow margins.

So when Fewer said last week that she was not running for re-election, a key seat on the board (and a key part of the progressive supermajority) was suddenly in play.

Fewer and McGoldrick were both on hand Friday when Connie Chan, a longtime Richmond resident and former aide to both Sups. Sophie Maxwell and Aaron Peskin, announced she’s running for that seat.

Among the people at the event were not just Fewer and McGoldrick but Emily Lee, who works with SF Rising Action Fund, and Hene Kelly, a longtime activist with the teacher’s union and progressive leader in the Democratic Party. Eric Mar has endorsed her.

From what I can tell, most of the progressive leaders in San Francisco are ready to rally behind Chan, who arrived in San Francisco at 13 speaking no English and went on to graduate from Galileo High School and UC Davis. She’s been working as a community organizer and legislative aide since then.

With Fewer retiring and Sup. Norman Yee termed out this fall, there could be only one Chinese member of the board – Gordon Mar. “And Chinese people are 23 percent of the city’s population,” Fewer told me.

“It’s also time for a Chinese speaker on the board.”

Chan told me that she opposes SB 50 and wants to see 100 percent affordable housing in the Richmond. She said she has no problem with more density – if there’s the infrastructure to support it. State Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill, she said, puts a mandate on the city but includes zero money for affordable housing or Muni.

It’s hard to imagine that Mayor London Breed won’t push for a candidate in D1. But nobody has announced yet.

Sorting out the California presidential primary

The March 3 primary in California matters; it could be a big day for the Democratic presidential candidates. But there are a lot of questions that may be answered between now and then – and from my conversations with friends and neighbors, even people who pay a lot of attention to politics are confused about some of the rules.

So let me try to clear things up as best as I can.

Key points:

You can be a decline-to-state voter and still vote in the California Democratic primary – but you won’t get a Democratic ballot automatically. You have to ask for one. If you are a DTS voter, you can’t vote in the Republican primary (which won’t be a contest anyway since Trump will be the only candidate). Only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary.

If you vote by mail, and you want to vote in the Democratic primary, you will get your ballot the first week in February. But so much could change between the day it arrives and California’s Election Day that the candidate you vote for early might not be in the race any more by March 3, which means your ballot won’t count.

California is not a winner-take-all state for the Democrats. The primary votes are proportioned out in party by Congressional district and in part at-large, and a significant number of the state’s delegates to the nominating convention won’t have to follow the primary results at all.

The Democratic Party rules are available here. I know it’s confusing. Let me try to parse it out.

Unlike the Republicans, the Democratic Party in California allows people who register with No Party Preference (the “independents”) to vote in the presidential primary. That could make a huge difference – NPP is the fasting growing category of voters in the state.

But it’s not automatic. If you are a DTV voter, the SF Department of Elections explains, you have to ask for a “crossover” ballot:

To receive a ballot with the Democratic Party presidential primary contest, you must take one of the following actions:

1) Request a “crossover” party ballot with the Democratic presidential primary contest by calling (415) 554-4375, emailing, faxing a request to (415) 554-7344, visiting, submitting a vote-by-mail application, visiting Room 48 of City Hall, or making the request in person at a voting center or polling place.

2) Reregister to vote with a Democratic Party preference to receive a ballot with the Democratic presidential primary contest and the Democratic County Central Committee Member contest.

Before February 18, 2020, you can change your party preference by reregistering online at or by submitting a paper registration application.

From February 19 through Election Day, March 3, 2020, you can change your party preference by registering conditionally at a voting center or polling place.

Questions? Call (415) 554-4375, visit the Department’s office in Room 48, City Hall, or email

If you vote by mail, you need to request that crossover ballot in advance. Do it now. Otherwise you might not get a ballot with the Democratic candidates in the mail.

And if you vote by mail: The old Bay Guardian joke was “vote early and often,” but in this case, that might not be the best idea.

The New Hampshire primary, which can be both the jump start and the end of presidential campaigns, happens Feb. 11. A candidate who does unexpectedly well in that primary can wind up getting a huge fundraising bump. A candidate who does worse than expected could be in trouble.

I know, it’s silly: One of the most unrepresentative states in the nation has extraordinary influence on the presidential race. But that’s how it is right now.

The South Carolina primary, also critical, is Feb. 29.

So if there’s a candidate you really like, who is on the California primary ballot, and you mail in your ballot Feb. 9, and that candidate tanks in New Hampshire and drops out the next week, or drops out after South Carolina, you just wasted your vote. It won’t count. There is no ranked-choice voting in the presidential primary, no chance to select a second-place or to vote again if your candidate is gone.

That means it might make sense to wait until you know what the California field looks like before you cast your ballot.

If you are campaigning for a candidate in the state, it’s important to understand how the rules work.

For starters, the state will have 494 delegates to the Democratic nominating convention. That’s the largest contingent in the country. If the person who has the most votes in California won all of those delegates, it would be a decisive primary.

But that’s now how the rules work. The Democratic Primary is based on proportional representation. That means if, say, Bernie Sanders gets 35 percent of the vote, he will get (roughly) 35 percent of the delegates.

But even that’s not a sure thing, since 271 of the delegates – 54 percent – are allocated not by the statewide vote but by the vote in each of the state’s 53 Congressional districts. Again, if (for example) Joe Biden wins 40 percent of the vote in the 3rdDistrict, then he would get 40 percent of the delegates from that district (and there are between five and seven delegates per district). So in this scenario, two delegates would go to Biden. The rest would be split up among the other candidates based on how many votes they won – with a big exception.

Anyone who gets less than 15 percent of the vote in any district or statewide gets no delegates at all.

Confused? So am I. But we’re nowhere near the end.

All 46 Democratic members of Congress and both US Senators get to go as conventional delegates, and can vote for anyone they want, no matter what the primary voters say.

Then there are 90 “at-large” delegates whose votes are determined through the same proportional representation as the districts. So if, say, Elizabeth Warren gets 25 percent of the statewide vote, she gets 22 of the at-large delegates.

What all of this means is that the candidates need to be spending money and campaigning all over the state. It means that if San Francisco, say, votes overwhelmingly for one candidate, and the other Bay Area counties vote for another one, the San Francisco vote won’t count for as much.

So the reality is that, unless on candidate is far, far ahead, California won’t be a knock-out state for the Democratic candidates. The most recent polls have Biden and Sanders in a statistical tie statewide, with Warren a few points behind and Buttigieg out of the running (that is, below 15 percent). All of that could change dramatically before the vote, but if the three leading candidates are still in the race, and still at about the same levels, they could wind up splitting the delegates without any decisive “winner.”

So in the general election in November, when California, like all states, is “winner take all,” the electoral votes are critical In the primary, for Democrats, California is a must-not-lose state more than it’s a must-win state.

Make sense?

Preston to join board Dec. 17

It's official: Dean Preston will take office in December.

City Hall will move another big step in the progressive direction next week as Dean Preston joins the Board of Supes.

Preston, who narrowly defeated incumbent Vallie Brown in November, becomes the first Democratic Socialist to serve on the board since Harry Britt stepped down in 1993.

He will be sworn in Dec. 16, at 5pm, in the Board Chambers, and will take his seat the next day.

Preston will have to run for re-election almost immediately – he is technically filling the D5 supervisorial term of Mayor London Breed, and that seat is up, like all the of odd-numbered seats, in the fall of 2020.

That means he will have to both promote the sort of bold new initiatives he talked about during the campaign and provide the sort of neighborhood and constituent services that D5 residents expect.

“We are going to be your friendly neighborhood socialists,” Jen Snyder, who ran his campaign and will join his staff, told me. Snyder is a founder of the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter.

Preston has hired a diverse group of staffers, all of whom have considerable political experience:

Kyle Smeallie ran Preston’s campaign for supe three years ago, then ran Rafael Mandelman’s D8 campaign in 2018, and has been working on Mandelman’s staff. He will move down the hall to work for Preston.

Avery Yu worked on the David Campos for state Assembly campaign and was field director for Preston’s 2019 race. Preston Kilgore, who is studying for his Masters in Urban and Public Affairs at the University of San Francisco, has worked on local, state, and national campaigns.

(Full disclosure, I teach in the MUPA program).

Preston said: “This is a brilliant, independent and principled group of people who share a vision for bold change and have the skills necessary to make it happen. Our team can’t wait to get to work for the residents of District 5 and San Francisco.”

And it’s clear that his office is going to be about not only legislative success but long-term organizing and movement-building.

And it starts next week.

Control of SF Democratic Party up for grabs in March

Members of the "Social Justice" slate file for DCCC at City Hall Dec. 2

California will for once play a significant role in choosing the Democratic nominee for president, since the state has moved up its primary to March 3. But there’s a lot else on that ballot too – including what will be a heated and high-stakes race for control of San Francisco’s Democratic Party.

Voters elect 24 members of the Democratic County Central Committee every four years, and the people who win seats will decide not only the party’s endorsement in the fall 2020 and fall 2022 supervisor races but in the 2023 race for mayor and district attorney.

So it’s a big deal – and both a progressive slate and what appears to be a slate backed by the mayor and the real-estate industry are going to be competing for those seats.

Members of the “Social Justice” slate file for DCCC at City Hall Dec. 2

The deadline to file was 5pm Friday – and at that point, we got some surprises.

The progressive slate, known as the Social Justice Democrats, filed Dec. 2. It includes candidates from both Assembly districts who are supporting the current chair, David Campos.

But as the deadline approached, some candidates who hadn’t been in the running, and who have high name-recognition, pulled the necessary papers.

The DCCC vote is, unfortunately, often about name recognition. Since most voters don’t know all of the candidates (and they get to vote for 14 on the east side of town and 10 on the west), they tend to pick names they know.

That’s why an organization that was once a starting point for party activists is now dominated by elected officials, former elected officials, and incumbents.

We can lament that all we want, but since the endorsement of the party is often a key factor in local elections, both the progressive and the conservative Democrats work hard to get a majority.

Four years ago, the party chair was Mary Jung, a lobbyist for the real-estate industry. Then the progressives won a majority, and now Campos runs the party.

(I know, it’s crazy to use the term “conservative” to refer to any Democrats in San Francisco, and they like “moderate” better. I use the word because I think it’s more accurate; the split is not over social issues but over economic issues, most particularly whether developers, tech companies, and the rich should pay more taxes, whether emerging tech industries should be tightly regulated, and whether the private market can solve the city’s housing crisis. People who are against increased taxes and regulation and support private-sector market-based solutions to issues like housing and development are, by my definition, economic conservatives.)

It’s always an uphill battle for progressives: the DCCC has 33 seats, but nine of them by law go to state and federal elected officials from San Francisco who are Democrats. That means Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets a vote; so do Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier, state Sen. Scott Wiener, and Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen.

And other than Pelosi and Ting, who on contentious local issues either vote with the progressives or abstain, the “ex-officio” votes on endorsements and the party chair tend to go to the more conservative candidates.

It takes 17 votes to win a majority, and the conservatives start with seven. That means they only need to win ten of the elected 24 seats to control the party.

“We are at a real disadvantage,” Campos told me.

At the filing deadline, we saw new candidates including:

Carole Migden, former state Senator; former Supervisor Vallie Brown; Sup. Ahsha Safai; Sheriff-elect Paul Miyamoto; appointed District Attorney Suzy Loftus; and former District Attorney candidate Nancy Tung. All of them have high name-recognition. All of them appear to be challenging the Social Justice slate.

At the same time, former Sup. John Avalos and Public Defender Mano Raju have filed, and will likely be part of the Social Justice slate.

I have heard plenty of criticism of the Social Justice slate, including from people who think it’s too heavy on elected officials and not grassroots activists – and from some who say that a few members have not in the past voted with progressives on key endorsements.

But given the stakes and the challenges, Campos argues that the progressives have to line up candidates who can win.

(Lee Hepner just noted on Facebook: “You can be an elected official and still be grassroots. By the same token, you can be an unelected official and nothing more than a mouthpiece for corporate special interests.”)

It’s pretty clear that the Social Justice slate members have pledged to re-elect Campos. The first challenge, if they win a majority, will be around the re-election of Sup. Dean Preston and the D11 race between Sup. Ahsha Safai and former Sup. John Avalos.

Although the progressives won a majority four years ago, several members of that slate voted for Vallie Brown for supervisor and denied Preston the Party endorsement.

It’s a situation the left is going to have to face, in this and other campaigns in the future: If you are a candidate who is elected with progressive support, if community activists go out of their way to help you raise money, to volunteer with your campaign, to walk precincts and help you get elected, do you have some fundamental responsibility not just to vote the progressive line on issues, but to use your position to help others who the progressives support get elected to office?

And how do the activists and voters hold these elected officials accountable?

Sup. Brown concedes in D5 election

It's official: Dean Preston will take office in December.

Five days after the results made clear that Dean Preston has been elected supervisor, incumbent Sup. Vallie Brown has conceded.

Brown called Preston this morning and told him she was not going to ask for a recount or contest the close election.

It’s official: Dean Preston will take office in December.

“She congratulated me on my victory and I thanked her for her years of service to the city,” Preston said. “With the campaign now officially over we are moving full-steam ahead with the transition.”

The Department of Elections still has to certify the results, which could take a couple of weeks. That means Preston will likely be sworn in and take his seat in early-to-mid December.

In the meantime, he will need to hire staff, prepare for the job – and get ready for the next campaign. Since Preston is technically filling the term that London Breed was elected to in 2016, he will be back on the ballot in November 2020.

The future of SF politics

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

If you spent any time in the headquarters of the campaigns for Chesa Boudin or Dean Preston, if you spent any time on the streets with the volunteers, if you stopped by their election-night parties, then you’d have noticed:

The two candidates won on the ground. These were grassroots efforts, in both cases up against big money that went to mail and TV ads.

And the people who made it happen, to a great extent, were young, diverse, excited about progressive change – and the future of San Francisco politics.

It’s really exciting.

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

I couldn’t reach Boudin on Saturday night, when it was clear he was winning; he was out of town, visiting his father in prison. But he sent me this statement:

When we started this campaign, we believed that the people of San
Francisco wanted a different vision of justice. We believed they
valued second chances for those who have made mistakes, prized
compassion over punishment, and wanted equal justice for all,
regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship.  We
were right. In voting for this campaign, the residents of San
Francisco have demanded radical change and rejected calls to go back
to the tough-on-crime era that did not make us safer and destroyed the
lives of thousands of San Franciscans.

There can be no justice when we utilize prison and jail as the
solution to all of our problems. We must think differently. We will
think differently. I am so humbled by the groundswell of support we’ve
received from all parts of the city, from people of all races and of
all classes, throughout the campaign and with your votes. I promise
you that we will not waiver as we work to make sure that San Francisco
treats everyone with the human dignity that we all deserve. Thank you,
and onward.

Preston won, it’s worth noting, with the ranked-choice voting system. He was narrowly ahead in the first-place votes, but the second choices of two minor candidates took him to a clear victory. Boudin got enough first-place votes that the RCV didn’t matter, even though the supporters of the two lowest-ranking candidates, Leif Dautch and Nancy Tung, were slightly favorable to Suzy Loftus.

Dean Preston won with the RCV system

Would Preston or Boudin have won in a December runoff, with far lower turnout – and all of the power of the Breed Administration, the police, the real-estate industry and other interests pushing to block the two progressives?

I don’t know. Jane Kim won the primary over Scott Wiener for state Senate. Then Wiener’s team launched a nasty campaign of negative ads and cranked up the big money, and Kim lost the general.

Worth thinking about.

We have not yet heard a statement from the Mayor’s Office. But the results are a clear defeat for Mayor London Breed, and suggest that she is going to have to work with the progressives – instead of trying to use sleazy tactics to undermine them– if she is going to get anything done.

People who generally believe that the big tech companies should be regulated and taxed, that that office developers should pay for the costs of the housing impacts that they create, that the city can play a much larger role in providing mental-health services, that the criminal-justice system is totally broken … they are now in the majority at City Hall, and they clearly have the support of the voters.

And yet: The mayor does not seem yet to have gotten the message. On Thursday/14, the Rules Committee will consider the mayor’s poison-pill mental health measure. The committee can’t block the proposal – the mayor has the authority to put anything on the ballot with just her signature.

But the committee will be able to discuss the problem with two competing measures that will (perhaps intentionally on the mayor’s part) confuse the votes.

As Sups. Matt Haney and Hillary Ronen, who have worked for a year to craft an effective proposal on mental-health services, said after the mayor put her plan on the ballot:

We have been working with nurses, psychiatrists, front-line mental health workers and conservators on drafting Mental Health SF for more than a year now. And we are proud that this collaboration has resulted in decisive legislation rooted in common sense that will fix our broken system and get people with mental illness off the streets and into care.

We’ve repeatedly asked the Mayor’s Office to engage with us and to move forward with shared legislation to address the mental health crisis. But the repeated walking away from the table and unexpected announcements from the Mayor and DPH are frustrating, and the people of San Francisco are fed up with it.

We are glad to see that the Mayor is finally prioritizing mental health reform. Unfortunately, rather than join us on Mental Health SF, the Mayor is creating confusion by putting forth a dueling ballot measure that does only a fraction of what Mental Health SF will do.

While the Mayor’s initiative puts forward a much-needed expansion of our struggling mental health system—which we wholeheartedly support— it just doesn’t go far enough. This initiative is the same incremental set of policies that DPH and the Mayor announced three weeks ago as “Heal our City,” now repackaged as a poison pill legislation they are calling “Urgent Care SF.”

What makes Mental Health SF so effective is that it will hold City Hall accountable and make sure that city departments are enacting structural changes that will stop mentally ill people from being abandoned on our street— the Mayor’s initiative just gives more money to the same people who have already failed us.

There are significant differences between our two ballot initiatives:

First, the Mayor’s initiative only serves severely mentally ill people who are already on the street.

Mental Health SF also address the crisis on our streets by getting people with mental illness out of homelessness and into care, but it goes even further. Mental Health SF stops the cycle of new people slipping into homelessness, by providing services to the severely mentally ill who don’t have insurance before they become homeless. Serving the mentally ill becomes even more difficult once they are on the street, and Mental Health SF stops this cycle.

Second, the Mayor’s initiative is mostly focused on spending more money on the same programs that have more often than not failed to keep people with mental illness off the street.

Mental Health SF, however, creates oversight to prevent overspending and uses solid data to determine where money should be allocated. Mental Health SF creates an implementation working group that will study where we’re spending too much money and where we need to reinvest. We need an expansion of our mental health system, but we also need oversight and common sense. Mental Health SF does both.

Third, the Mayor is relying on the same bureaucrats at DPH who have been mismanaging this department and failing at addressing the crisis on our streets for years to regulate themselves.

Mental Health SF was drafted with front-line workers, nurses, psychiatrists, mental health experts, and with direct input from the service providers who work with people who are suffering on the streets.

We once again offer to sit down with the Mayor to work out a compromise and address any concerns she may have with our initiative. We would be happy to work together to create one ballot initiative that truly addresses the problems in the Department of Public Health.

But the Mayor’s stalling and political gamesmanship is not going to do anything to solve the crisis on our streets. Big problems need big solutions, and that’s unfortunately not what’s being offered here.”

Sup. Aaron Peskin is taking direct aim at commercial landlords who are holding property off the market. It’s a growing problem in the neighborhoods – instead of leasing out space, the owners are presumably waiting for even more gentrification to drive up prices even more.

Peskin wants to place a measure on the March ballot that would impose

An excise tax on persons keeping ground floor commercial space in neighborhood commercial districts or neighborhood commercial transit districts vacant, to fund assistance to small businesses.

The Budget and Finance Committee will consider that measure Wednesday/13 at 10am.

Preston, Boudin are winners as vote-count nears finish

Dean Preston and Chesa Boudin won stunning victories for progressives.

With all but a handful of ballots counted, Dean Preston declared victory today in the D5 supes race and Chesa Boudin was far enough ahead in the district attorney’s race that he’s certain to be the winner.

With only 1,200 votes still to count, Boudin is ahead by 2,439 votes. Preston is ahead by 170 votes.

Dean Preston and Chesa Boudin won stunning victories for progressives. Photo by Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith.

“Today is a victory for all San Franciscans seeking bolder answers for the challenges our city faces,” Preston said in a statement released a few minutes after today’s result were posted. “This was a hard-fought election and I am so grateful for the long hours of volunteer effort and grassroots, community support that brought our campaign across the finish line. But now the campaign is over, and I am ready and eager to begin serving our city as soon as possible.”

We are still awaiting statements from Brown, Boudin, and incumbent DA Suzy Loftus.

The results are a stunning victory for progressives, particularly in a low-turnout election – and a major defeat for Mayor London Breed.

Breed, of course, won re-election without any serious opposition – although when you consider that almost 27,000 people didn’t cast a vote for mayor, she won only 60 percent of the vote. That means 40 percent of the voters cast a ballot for one of the minor candidates who had non name recognition and no serious campaigns or didn’t vote for mayor at all. That’s not exactly a mandate.

But the mayor went all-in promoting Brown and Loftus. She campaigned with Brown, and went so far as to appoint Loftus to the interim job just weeks before the election, allowing Loftus to run as an incumbent.

Mayors in San Francisco typically don’t have a lot of coat-tails – but these results are still remarkable. With no serious opponent of her own, Breed spent her time pushing for her allies, and the voters rejected those candidates.

Preston ran as a democratic socialist (and is the first person elected with that affiliation since Harry Britt in 1980). He also ran – very specifically – as someone who would stand up to the mayor and her agenda.

Boudin ran as a criminal-justice reformer while Loftus moved in her first days on the job to present herself as a law-and-order candidate.

It’s also a major defeat for the Police Officers Association, which spent more than $650,000 on ads attacking Boudin. I think a lot of that effort backfired; the DA race was fairly low-key for much of the fall, but when the cops started putting out vicious, Trump-style attack ads, a lot of voters decided that a candidate the POA opposed was worth supporting.

The POA’s political clout has been declining in this city for the past few years. Now, the results suggest, the POA is just political poison.

Preston and Boudin presented campaigns that argued the current administration is going in the wrong direction – on housing, on economic inequality, on criminal justice. And the voters agreed.

That’s going to define local politics for the next few years.

Boudin now in the lead, Preston still ahead

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

Well, my fuzzy math wasn’t all bad.

I predicted last night that if the trends from the past day continued, Chesa Boudin would be in the lead in the DA’s race:

Here’s the (very, very sketchy) math for the DA’s race. Over the 32,000 ballots counted today, Boudin picked up 1,326 votes. If that exact trend continues over the next 25,000 votes, he would pick up 1,035 more – enough to put him ahead by 156 votes. Not counting the provisionals.

Guess what? Boudin is up by 156 votes. Exactly.

Chesa Boudin offered a race-based overhaul of the criminal-justice system.

I didn’t do as well in D5, where I predicted Dean Preston would pick up an additional 88 votes. He’s still just 35 votes ahead.

But the bottom line is that, with virtually all of the vote-by-mail ballots counted, the progressive candidates are in the lead.

There are still 1,500 VBM ballots to count, but it seems highly unlikely the trends of those votes will change dramatically.

Then it comes down to the provisional ballots. There are about 2,107 of those in D5, and 13,000 citywide.

Again: If they reflect the same trends of the past two days, then Boudin and Preston will be elected. But we have no idea whether that will happen.

Still: What an amazing week for progressive candidates, up against huge sums of real-estate and police money, and it now appears possible that they will both emerge victorious.

We will know tomorrow at 4pm how the provisionals are breaking.

Late ballots break in progressive direction

Volunteers crowded into Dean Preston's headquarters to do last-minute GOTV.

The VBM ballots counted today are breaking much more the way the Election-Day votes did: Dean Preston is now 35 votes ahead of Sup. Vallie Brown in D5, and Chesa Boudin is only 879 votes behind interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus.

In fact, Boudin is 3,726 votes ahead of Loftus in the first-place round – a clear signal that a sizable number of San Franciscans want dramatic change in the criminal-justice system.

Volunteers crowded into Dean Preston’s headquarters to do last-minute GOTV.

But under the ranked-choice voting system, Loftus pulls ahead as the second-place votes from two more traditional law-and-order candidates are slightly favoring her.

But the trends are looking good for both progressive candidates.

There are, the Department of Elections says, about 38,000 more votes to count – 25,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were either dropped off on Election Day or have just arrived from the Post Office, and 13,000 provisional ballots. Department of Elections Director John Arntz says that 1,880 of the provisional ballots are from D5.

If you voted by mail (or dropped off a VBM ballot) and want to be sure it was properly processed, you can track your ballot at this link.It’s going to be very, very close, and every single vote is going to count.

If the remaining 25,000 break the same way that these did, it will put Preston further ahead. He picked up 123 votes out of (my guess) about 3,200 counted in D5. (The DOE counted 32,000 votes today. If they were evenly distributed through the districts, that would be 2,900 per district. It’s safe to assume that D5 is running at least 5 percent higher than average; it’s always a high-turnout district and the supes race may push it further.) That exact trend would give Preston another 88-vote advantage when the remaining VBM votes are counted.

We have no idea what will happen with the provisionals.

Here’s the (very, very sketchy) math for the DA’s race. Over the 32,000 ballots counted today, Boudin picked up 1,326 votes. If that exact trend continues over the next 25,000 votes, he would pick up 1,035 more – enough to put him ahead by 156 votes. Not counting the provisionals.

These margins are so tiny, and the trends so unpredictable, that my numbers are by no means reliable.

But the direction of the votes so far is positive for the progressive candidates.