The outcome of the so-called “battle for San Francisco’s soul” is going to have to wait a few more days as Supervisor David Campos declined Tuesday night to concede victory in his Assembly race against Supervisor and Board President David Chiu.

With all precincts reporting, Chiu held a 2,397-vote lead over Campos in the Assembly race to replace Tom Ammiano. There is still an unknown number of provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted. The acrimonious race, billed by some as a turning point for progressive politics in the city, was defined by sharp personal attacks and money.

Despite the outcome, Campos and his supporters are claiming a victory.

“What happened tonight was not a campaign, it was a movement to make sure San Francisco is a city that’s affordable,” Campos told more than 200 supporters at his election party at El Rio. “It’s about saying San Francisco is not for sale.”

In what sounded like a concession speech, however, many of his supporters said that despite being outspent the campaign’s strong showing sent a message to the powers-that-be.

“Even if [Chiu] wins he’s going to have it in his head that the people fought back,” said Lulu Rodriguez, a supporter of Campos who can’t actually vote for him because she’s not a citizen. “He’s going to have that in mind next time.”

The night went as scripted for the Campos campaign – literally, the script that phone bankers at Roccapulco had to read said: “This is the closest election in recent history.”

Absentee ballots counted first were expected to – and did by and large – go to Chiu, but the Campos campaign came roaring back once the precinct ballots began being reported.

Earlier, Nate Allbee told a group of 70 people who were phone banking at Roccapulco to encourage likely voters to turn in a vote for Campos.

Chiu took an early 60-40 lead with early absentee voters, but Allbee remained relaxed. “We had over 500 people working knocking on doors,” he said.

It also didn’t bother the partygoers at the who’s who of progressive politics, which included immigrants, non-profit workers, bloggers, bearded hipsters and everything in between, as they continued drinking.

“Great party,” said one. “Wooo, same results as an hour ago,” said another.

Hours later they were rewarded as Campos closed a 6,000-vote gap, giving Chiu 51.37 percent of the vote and leaving Campos with 48.63 percent of the vote. However, it might not be enough, as the Department of Election still has to count the remaining absentee ballots.

Campos took the stage shortly after 11 p.m. and had some parting shots at the tech moguls Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway, who funded a $550,000 independent campaign against him. They attacked him on his vote not to oust disgraced Sherriff Ross Mirkarimi for being convicted domestic violence charges.

Campos tried to give hope to his supporters, who recently lost The Bay Guardian and Ted Gullicksen of the San Francisco Tenants union.

“Progressive politics are alive in San Francisco,” he said. “We are not going anywhere.”
First published at 7:05 a.m.