Please return to this page throughout the day for results, updates, analysis, and coverage from Mission Local’s Lydia Chavez, Joe Eskenazi, Abraham Rodriguez, Julian Mark, William McCarthy and Robin Estrin
12:45 a.m. Wednesday: Leads change and races tighten with ranked-choice run
It’s late. It’s early. And the Department of Elections has crunched a ranked-choice voting report — which makes it clear we won’t know who won key races tonight.
But we know a lot.
And, as noted before, much of Nancy Tung’s transferrable votes went to Suzy Loftus. Combined with the votes gleaned from Leif Dautch, a ranked-choice run based on the ballots received thus far delivers a razor-thin margin for the interim DA — 47,234 for Suzy Loftus to 46,994 for Chesa Boudin. That’s a 240-vote margin.
Ballots will be trundling their way to the Department of Elections for the next three days — Elections director John Arntz predicted Thursday to be a big day — but ranked-choice votes erased Boudin’s 2,229-vote advantage and he’s now in the hole. In order to overtake Loftus, Boudin would need to overwhelmingly win No. 1 votes on the remaining ballots and/or garner a higher percentage of Dautch and Tung’s transfers. It’s possible — but an uphill battle and would require patterns to change.
Meanwhile, in District 5, a ranked-choice run puts Dean Preston atop Supervisor Vallie Brown by a similarly perilous margin — 6,439 to 6,221. That’s 218 votes (albeit in a much smaller field, with ostensibly less potential variation — and Preston’s lead keeps growing with every round). It remains to be seen if late absentee voters — who cast their ballots after the news broke about Brown evicting low-income black tenants and then falsely claiming they didn’t pay rent — side more heavily with Preston.
Housing bond Prop. A is holding at 69.5 percent. Prop. D, the per-ride charge on ride-share trips, is at 66.66 percent — right on the line for passage. Everyone can laugh it up at Juul as Prop. C received only 19.6 percent of the vote.
The next update will come at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. It will be great and terrible and agonizing.
Good night and good morning.
— Joe Eskenazi
11:30 p.m.: The final hours of Leif Dautch’s campaign
An hour and a half before the polls closed, District Attorney-hopeful Leif Dautch was standing at a bus stop near Castro Station, trying to wrangle the last couple of non-voters toward the polls.
“If we lose this race by 50 votes because we called it early, that would be a shame,” Dautch said. “You have to leave everything on the field.”
The current Deputy Attorney General devoted his campaign efforts to a ranked-choice strategy and an issues-based campaign, hoping to win the election by nabbing the second and third slots on enough ballots to unseat either frontrunner—Suzy Loftus, appointed to the role by Mayor London Breed in October, or Chesa Boudin, favored by progressives for his record as public defender.
Dautch saw his approach as somewhere between the two candidates’, but not as moderate, and not as “wishy washy,” he said.
“Being a progressive prosecutor is both about addressing mass incarceration and reducing racial disparities, but it’s also about having a robust, hard-charging prosecutor’s office for things like environmental justice, or sexual violence, or fraudulent evictions,” Dautch said on the drive from the Castro District to his campaign headquarters at Union and Gough.
The campaign office was near empty when he returned. Daniel Anderson, Dautch’s campaign manager, was working on a strategy to collect election results on his walk from headquarters to the Dorian, the Marina-district bar where the results party was nearly underway.
Dautch’s wife, eight months pregnant, was there setting up, alongside the candidate’s family, friends, and more than 100 supporters. The room was buzzing with optimism when Dautch took the stage around 8:30 to welcome and thank the attendees.
“No matter what happens tonight, I am so proud of what we were able to build as a candidate running independent of either political machine,” said Dautch.
According to a mailer sent out by the Dautch campaign to 110,000 targeted voters, there were 31,000 car break-ins in 2017, only 500 of which resulted in an arrest, and only one of which was taken to trial — with no conviction. Dautch’s proposed car burglary task force would be funded by a state grant program paid for by car insurance companies.
Dautch’s campaign strategy, to target those most likely to vote with an issues-based platform, likely wasn’t enough to clutch the District Attorney’s office. As of 11:30 p.m. on Election Day, Boudin has 35,430 votes, good enough for 32.9 percent. Loftus is in second with 33,201 votes (30.8 percent). Tung has 22,329 votes and Dautch has 16,526.
“It shows you can’t [win an election] without the special interests,” said Dautch’s father, reading the numbers.
But Dautch remained hopeful. But if he can’t engineer a comeback for the ages, he’ll be glad if parts of his platform are implemented in the city, even if another candidate — like Loftus, who proposed the creation of an auto-burglary “strike force” similar to Dautch’s plan days before the election — is the one to do it.
“In a race where there’s a moderate-establishment candidate, a progressive-establishment candidate and a Chinese-American candidate… we tried to build a base around issues,” Dautch said. “I’m proud of the race we ran.”
— Robin Estrin
11:05 p.m.: “We won an election, people!”
With 99.8 percent of precincts reporting and 115,149 votes tabulated, this much is clear: It’s not clear.
Dean Preston remains atop Vallie Brown, 6,085 to 5,988. That’s a 97-vote margin, which is 61 votes more than the last go-round but hardly Fort Knox. Late-arriving ballots and, perhaps, the No. 2 and 3 votes of the two minor District 5 candidates will play into this race. Preston currently leads, 47.22 percent to 46.47 percent.
“We’re optimistic that we will win,” Preston told a roomful of supporters, per William McCarthy. “But we actually have no idea.”
Well, that sounds about right.
Chesa Boudin, meanwhile, was right (so far): His margin has grown. He currently has 35,430 votes, good enough for 32.9 percent. Suzy Loftus is in second with 33,201 votes (30.8 percent). Nancy Tung has 22,329 votes and Leif Dautch has 16,526. Clearly their second- and third-place votes will decide this race. But, while the Department of Elections ran ranked-choice permutations on the first round, it has not since. This, we are told is coming later tonight (or early Wednesday).
Boudin isn’t waiting. “We won an election, people!” he told his supporters. That remains to be seen — but it’s better to be 2,229 votes up than 2,229 votes down.
Abraham Rodriguez, at Loftus’ shindig, reports the place has cleared out. The candidate will not give any further statements to the press tonight.
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With that said, it’s clearly too early to declare victory. The preliminary ranked-choice votes for Leif Dautch show 40 percent of voters didn’t cast a ballot for anyone else — and of the votes that transferred, around half go to Nancy Tung, some 30 percent go to Loftus and 20 percent go to Boudin.
Boudin figures to need a goodly chunk of Tung’s No. 2s. It’s not clear he’ll get those, but he told Mission Local’s Julian Mark he likes his chances in ranked-choice.
“A lot of people who voted for Nancy because of their confidence in her experience as a trial lawyer put me as their second,” he told Mark. “Because I’ve done 26 jury trials in front of San Francisco juries.”
We may see a ranked-choice tabulation as soon as midnight, per the Department of Elections.
On the ballot side, Prop. A is now holding at 69 percent — good enough to win. Prop. D, the tax on Uber and Lyft rides, is at 66.66 percent — as close as you can get to two-thirds; a few votes here or there will decide this. Prop. C has received a no vote from nearly 80.5 percent of the electorate.
Mayor London Breed is at 68 percent now, up from 60 percent in the last go-round. That’s a far more respectable tally for an incumbent mayor running with fringe opposition — though less than other citywide offices that ran unopposed.
— Joe Eskenazi
9:55 p.m. Round two — Holy Cow
Well, that changes things.
With 81 percent of precincts reporting and just under 107,000 votes in the can, the race is a race.
This was a whiplash-inducing turnaround.
Dean Preston has pulled ahead of Vallie Brown, 45.14 percent to 44.86 percent (5,704 votes to 5,668 — a scant 36 votes). This race could stretch for days and days and days. Clearly every vote counts.
Chesa Boudin has pulled ahead in the DA race with 29.64 percent (31,361 votes). Suzy Loftus is second with 28.97 percent (30,644 votes). Nancy Tung has 21,002 votes for 19.85 percent and Leif Dautch is at 14.67 percent (15,521 votes).
Julian Mark, at Boudin’s election-night gathering, describes a feverish scene in the November chill, with Boudin pumping his fist as the numbers were announced. “We are winning,” he shouted to his supporters. And he predicted the margin would only grow. As it is, it’s just 717 votes — and the pinball-like ranked-choice voting rounds loom. Boudin is not a natural No. 2 for either Tung or Dautch — though the two did campaign together collegially — so it remains to be seen if this lead is fleeting.
Boudin’s supporters are certainly enjoying the moment, however. Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer can curse like a sailor. And now everyone knows: “I got just one thing to say: Fuck the POA,” she shouted to the crowd, skewering the police union that helped dump $650,000 into late ads targeting Boudin and boosting Loftus. “This is what happens when we throw the fuck down.”
Abraham Rodriguez, packed into the alarmingly crowded basement of Churchill with Loftus’ supporters, says it’s now very quiet. It doesn’t feel quite so stiflingly hot down here anymore.
Prop. A at 67 percent is barely scraping by. Prop. D has jumped to 64.4 percent — still failing, but gaining ground. Prop. C is only tanking all the more, with 78 percent voting no.
“I would imagine that the entire political establishment of San Francisco is trying to figure out where their pulse just went,” said one longtime political observer. Continuing that thought, should Preston oust Brown, “the Board would be further to the left than it has been for any period since 2000.”
Breed, who is holding at 60 percent, would be facing some challenges. “The progressive majority would be able to send over anything it liked to the mayor and dare her to sign it. And this could start soon.”
— Joe Eskenazi
9:45 p.m. Team Boudin plays it cool
An early 23 percent return for DA candidate Chesa Boudin was “better than what we were expecting,” said Kaylah Williams, Boudin’s campaign manager.
“These first votes coming in are usually the most conservative votes,” she said. “A lot of our early ground came had to do with the fact that we really consolidated our base.”
The news came around 9 p.m. as many at “Da Bus” food court shivered, blew warm air into their hands, and wondered why the Boudin camp booked an outdoor venue in November. Tables are damp, chairs are damp — but eyes are dry and hopeful as the next returns are set to trickle in, and Boudin’s some 150 supporters brace for what they expect to be a “long night.”
Boudin, who showed up after the result were in, shared in the sentiment. “We’re really excited where we are right now,” he said, echoing his campaign manager.
Williams said the worst-case scenario would have been 10-point deficit behind the leader. She chalked up Boudin’s current position to a big ground game in Districts 5, 8, and 9 — the Western Addition, the Castro, and the Mission, respectively.
“It is, of course, behind — but we’re off to a really good start,” Williams said.
— Julian Mark
9:35 p.m. Brown and Preston play the waiting game
Although Dean Preston and Vallie Brown’s campaigns gathered just a few blocks away from each other to watch the results come in — and although they were running for the same district containing the same 75,000 people — the differences were stark. At Brown’s Church of Eight Wheels party, supporters roller-skated to Whitney Houston in a converted church. Meanwhile, Preston supporters packed into the more upscale Noir Lounge to the sound of a grand piano.
Some District 5 residents compared the race to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Preston, the self-styled Democratic Socialist, and Supervisor Brown, the favorite of the establishment with plenty of endorsements to show for it. Others say it’s a battle for the soul of the neighborhood.
Although getting the temperature of a race by walking the streets on election day is a decidedly unscientific process, enthusiasm seemed to be on Preston’s side. The question is whether that enthusiasm would translate to results. Early results, which were expected to be favorable to Brown, had Preston down 9 percent.
Preston’s campaign headquarters was buzzing in the early afternoon, filled with volunteers and campaign staff. Many more people seemed to be walking the streets carrying Dean Preston signs than Vallie Brown signs. Preston’s campaign manager, Jen Snyder, said volunteers were lining up outside the campaign office as early as 4:30 a.m.
Brown’s HQ was a little more reserved, although campaign staff said she was out in the district with “many, many” supporters. Her supporters frequently mentioned her deep connections to the neighborhood, which many said Preston lacked.
“My volunteers are all from District 5. I feel very humbled,” Brown told her party-goers.
Housing was a point of emphasis for voters. Longtime D5 resident Doug Comstock said he’s voting for Preston partially because recently helped his friend deal with an eviction. He said that process combined the news that broke recently about Brown evicting former tenants swayed his vote.
“Evictions are never good,” said David Miles, a Brown supporter and owner of the Church of 8 Wheels, the location supervisor Brown’s party. “But there’s gotta be more to the story.”
Preston supporters still feel confident the election day momentum could lead to a victory.
“I haven’t backed a winning candidate in 19 years,” Preston supporter Larry Roberts said. “But I think this could be the year,”
— William McCarthy
9:30 p.m.: Loftus backers are feeling it
Spirits are high at Churchill, as soon as the initial numbers came in.
“What I know right now is that we are leading!” Lateefah Simon said as she took a microphone.
The entire bar broke into cheers.
Between claps and cheers, the presentation moved on. Simon and then later Nicole Derse, the consultant in Loftus’ campaign, tempered expectations.
Derse said that initial votes showed Loftus leading in the District Attorney race by 5 points above Chesa Boudin and Nancy Tung, but that the results were still early. She said that the later results would tell more.
Derse and Simon left the stage, only for Derse to come back onstage a heartbeat later. Something happened, and a minute later the entire bar chanted “SOMETHING HAPPENED!”
Derse spoke into the microphone and told the crowd that, if you ran the preliminary votes through ranked-choice scenarios, Loftus would prevail.
“In this simulation, this is not the result, but in this simulation, Suzy won. Nancy Tung came in second,” Derse said.
She reiterated that she doesn’t think this would be how the election finishes, but she was optimistic.
And then, of course, the party continued.
— Abraham Rodriguez
9:13 p.m.: Nancy’s numbers not negligible
“Refresh,” says Derek Jansen, Nancy Tung’s political consultant. I am feeling his anxiety. The Department of Elections is late and DA candidate Nancy Tung wants her numbers. So does her father, Terry, her sister, Jen, and her friends, Jennifer and Monica. Monica, by God, flew in from London to see these numbers. I want these numbers and it is 8:53 p.m. and they were supposed to be up at 8:45.
The only relaxed person is the bartender, Roger Alan, who is also the owner of the space where Tung’s campaign party is happening. Very fashionable, locally made and designed clothes hang here, but for tonight, 440 Brannon, generally home to Wear Something Rare and A Motion Studios, is the site of Tung’s campaign party.
Earlier, Jansen and Tung bemoaned the apparently low voter turnout. Tung was hoping for 40 percent and it looks like it may be closer to 30 percent.
Wait … cheers, whistles: the first round of votes are in, and Tung and Jansen are pleased. Tung is close to even with Chesa Boudin. “We feel really good right now,” says Jansen, looking somewhere between excited and relieved. “We’re now performing better than expected at this point. The ranked-choice is going to work very well for us.”
Adds Tung, “This is amazing. I’m surprised it’s so close.” She’s waiting to see how Dautch’s numbers are distributed, but clearly Tung’s party has gotten a boost and, suddenly, it feels like there are more people here.
— Lydia Chavez
9 p.m.: Early results are in
And away we go.
With 69,589 early absentee ballots in the can, the first tabulation is released.
Mayor London Breed has received some 60 percent of the vote — not an earth-shattering tally, considering the token-at-best opposition. Ellen Lee Zhou, a hardline conservative race-baiting Chinese woman, has overperformed, with 15 percent of the vote.
In District 5, Vallie Brown grabbed 48 percent of the 6,733 early votes. Dean Preston tallied 2,776, or 39 percent. This is a 9 point swell — putting Brown at very nearly the 10-point breaking mark Preston’s backers gauged was the most he could reliably be expected to overcome. With that said, there are only 667 votes between the candidates.
In the DA’s race, Suzy Loftus leads all comers with 29 percent of the 63,864 votes. Chesa Boudin has 23.39 percent, Nancy Tung is just behind with 23.17 percent, and Leif Dautch rounds out the race at 16.5 percent. This is not the margin Loftus’ campaign had hoped to amass with early absentee voters. We noted earlier that Tung’s campaign well and truly must show up in these early absentees — and it has.
Ranked-choice permutations on these preliminary results would put both Brown and Loftus into the winner’s circle. But much is yet to come.
On the proposition side, Prop. A, the big housing bond, is not quite cutting it at 63 percent — but day-of-election voters could well push it over the two-thirds threshold. Prop. D, a per-ride tax on ride-shares such as Uber and Lyft is not quite 62 percent — short of the two-thirds plateau.
Prop. C is going down, with 76 percent giving the thumbs-down; worries of confused voters may have been overblown.
Juul wasted a lot of money. Juul got smoked in its hometown. And Juul’s harm-reduction argument just lost in the nation’s harm-reduction capitol. That bodes poorly for the FDA application.
More numbers are coming at 9:45ish.
— Joe Eskenazi
8 p.m.: Polls close, and Joe Eskenazi explains what we’re about to experience
Reporters are posted at candidates’ election-night gatherings throughout San Francisco. More to come!
And … scene! The polls are now closed. Very soon, we’ll be drinking from the firehose of the first of several rounds of election results.
At 8:45, we’ll see how early absentees — the folks who mailed in their ballots long ago — voted. At 9:45 and 10:45, we’ll begin seeing how day-of-election voters cast their ballots. And, tonight and over the next three days, late absentee ballots will trickle in (“Thursday will be a good day,” predicts John Arntz, the city’s director of elections).
Expect a significant variance between early absentees — many of whom are homeowners and lean more conservative and “un-convinceable” in one political consultant’s words — and day-of-election voters who are more traditionally progressive. City residents may recall the Assembly race between David Chiu and David Campos, in which the former was staked to a hefty early absentee lead, then withstood Campos’ far superior day-of-election performance to eke out a victory. That’s how things are often delineated between early absentees and day-of-election poll voters.
Complicating things, if late absentee voters voted like day-of-election voters, Mark Leno would be mayor. They really don’t; he fell behind in the early absentees, surged ahead with day-of voting, then lost because late absentees preferred London Breed. Late absentee voters have tended to vote more like early absentee voters.
So, if the races are close, this is something to keep in mind.
In District 5, if Dean Preston is ahead at 8:45, then his campaign thinks he’ll win: Crack open the beer, it’s over. If he’s within five points of Vallie Brown, it’s going to be close. And if it’s more of a margin than that, it’ll be hard for him to overcome the early absentee deficit and catch Brown — and he faces the Leno-like possibility of making a game of it with day-of voting, then losing the late absentees.
The DA’s race is more complicated, because ranked-choice voting is going to determine the winner. So, not only do we have to keep track of how much space is between presumptive front-runners Suzy Loftus and Chesa Boudin, we have to take note of how Nancy Tung and Leif Dautch are doing, and estimate where their No. 2 and 3 votes will go.
Team Loftus will be elated with a 15-point margin, satisfied with 10, and nervous with less. Tung really must show well in the early absentees. Dautch is the only candidate who fastidiously devoted himself to a ranked-choice strategy. But, as noted in an earlier posting, his effort to be everyone’s No. 2 won’t work if he doesn’t land enough No. 1s.
Boudin backers figure he’s got to keep things close with the early absentees, then overperform with the day-of-election voters. It wouldn’t hurt to overperform with lots of election day voters — but, by all accounts, turnout has been minimal.
So, that could be troublesome for Boudin. And it could also spell doom for Prop. A, the $600 million housing bond. Reaching the two-thirds threshold is always a feat, even in this generous city. Prop. A backers tell me that, with a turnout of 40 percent or lower, the big bond is in jeopardy.
Also, keep an eye on Proposition C, the Juul- and Big Tobacco-crafted measure to undo the city’s vaping regulations and rewrite them in a fashion more to Juul’s liking.
The vaping giant notably pulled the plug on its own campaign, but not until it sank tens of millions of dollars into the effort. With every other ballot measure a likely “yes” for most city voters — and with the incredibly confusing ballot language and millions of dollars already socked into obfuscating the argument and framing the debate in Juul’s preferred terms — a “No” vote is no guarantee.
— Joe Eskenazi
7:10 p.m.: All quiet on the Loftus front
It’s a calm evening at interim DA Suzy Loftus’ campaign offices. The noisiest thing isn’t any din from within but the hum of vehicles crossing Market Street on a Tuesday evening that overpowers phone conversations from the seven volunteers left within (the rest were pounding the pavement). The walls are littered with maps and sticky notes, signs and posters that say “SUZY” or “LOFTUS” in a room resembling an auto dealer showroom.
Vinny Eng, the organizing director for the campaign, was on the phone and busy coordinating volunteers throughout the city. Eng was deploying them throughout the city, bringing some in from the cold or redirecting some to other locales. Others he would put on the phones.
It’s the last phone-banking push before polls close at 8 p.m.
“Bi-plane visibility, it’s the way of the future man!” one volunteer said as she walked in with a big sign promoting Loftus’ campaign.
According to campaign sources, at least 93 volunteers worked on Loftus’ campaign today — 26 of them getting up as early as 5 a.m. to drop off literature at residences and another 41 doing visibility work at transit stops.
Mark Kyle was one of the volunteers making phone calls to people and reminding them to get out and vote. Between calls, he uses precious seconds to make a joke.
He looks at me and asked, “Who did you piss off to end up here?” with a deadpan tone.
While the campaign offices are quiet, Kyle is busy making phone calls. Others make fun of his Peaky Blinders newsie beret, but he rolls with it. Kyle met his wife at a campaign office like this, he said, when he was the field organizer for Kevin Shelley years ago. Shelley eventually tapped him to be Undersecretary of State. Then as now, he’s worked on a lot of campaigns.
“I know people who volunteer to do this sort of thing don’t like doing it,” Kyle said. “They’re more likely to re-engage and do it again in the future if they have fun. It’s as much my shtick as it is anything else.”
— Abraham Rodriguez
The inspector assigned to Precinct 7546 is in a whole lot of trouble.
That person, according to Department of Elections boss John Arntz, did not show up for work this morning. A substitute inspector was sent, and that person was given 125 ballots that did not include the District 5 supervisor candidates, which were meant for precincts in other districts.
And that’s a problem. Ten people tried to vote with those ballots, and the machine rejected them, Arntz says.
But, he adds, when that happened, they were given proper ballots out of a reserve supply. Everyone who wanted to vote did vote, Arntz says.
When asked about a Twitter-user’s complaint that DA candidate Chesa Boudin was left off the ballot at 1000 Tompkins Ave., Building A, Arntz said that just wasn’t possible.
It strains credulity, he continued, for Boudin to be left off the ballot in just one single precinct. This is the first he’s hearing of this, and overseas ballots were released some 55 days ago.
Arntz agreed to look into the matter further, despite his steadfast claim that this just couldn’t happen. Moments later, he sent the photo below, of ballot cards from the precinct in question.
Looks like he was right.
— Joe Eskenazi
5:35 p.m.: Just a trickle in the Mission
The Mission Presbyterian Church at 3261 23rd St., just one block from Mission Street, was not exactly action central today. By mid-afternoon it had serviced some 164 voters, 50 of them delivering drop-off ballots, and things looked sleepy inside the church’s recreation room.
Rafaela Canela, a 60-year resident of the Mission, said that one of the most important measures for her was Proposition D, a 1.5 percent tax on ride hail services and a 3.25 percent charge on commercial and driver-less rides. Canela said that traffic has grown unbearable in the city, and there needs to be more control over who gets on the roads. Public transit also needed the extra funds, she said.
Canela said Chesa Boudin was her choice for District Attorney because of his viewpoints on social justice issues like officer-involved shootings.
Dara Bonakdar, 30, said he was most concerned about getting his vote out today. His family is from Iran and, back home, they wouldn’t get much of a say in the government.
Bonakdar felt strongly in support of Proposition C, the Juul and Big Tobacco-backed measure to overturn citywide vaping restrictions. He said the city ban on vaping products would just drive a gray market or force users to buy online.
“If you ban it in the city, they’ll just go to Daly City and buy them there,” he said.
Bonakdar said he had actually been to one of the factories in China where they made the vapes and the juice that people inhale. He said the conditions of the factories, and the chemicals used by manufacturers would make people think twice about using the flavored juices. He felt that the industry needs regulation.
He was also voting for Boudin for District Attorney.
In contrast to the other voters, 57-year-old Yolanda, a 20 year Mission resident, was voting for interim DA Suzy Loftus.
“She’s going to do a good job, I hope. Let’s wait and see,” she said.
— Abraham Rodriguez
5 p.m.: A change in luck?
William McCarthy is roaming through District 5, where challenger Dean Preston’s team like its chances.
“I haven’t backed a winning candidate in 19 years, but I think this could be the year,” says Larry Roberts, a stalwart Preston volunteer.
As of 4:30 p.m., volunteers were lined up around the block to get out the vote.
McCarthy’s requests to drop in on Supervisor Vallie Brown’s campaign office or tail the candidate were declined. He’ll try again later.
— Joe Eskenazi
Capturing the young, idealistic vote is important for Chesa Boudin’s bid for District Attorney. That’s why he posted up at the entrance of San Francisco State University for an hour this afternoon, handing out flyers and chatting with students as they ambled in and out of campus.
“I was holding back on your vote,” Jackie Plaza, a young political science major, told Boudin.
She wanted to get clearer on some of his policies, particularly organized crime. But “now that I see you here, thank you so much,” Plaza told him after their conversation. Plaza said she would vote for him after she got off work today.
Sydney Maxfield, a senior majoring in nutrition, originally turned down a flyer from Boudin. But he reminded her to vote as she was walking away. “So … I decided to go back and get more information,” Maxfield said.
Boudin told her about his background, she said — about growing up with two parents who were incarcerated and how it inspired him to work toward reforming the criminal justice system, particularly around mass incarceration. “I love it,” she said. “It really resonated with me.”
Maxfield said she had previously been undecided, but now she knew who her first choice for DA would be.
“We’re hoping to get a significant amount of votes from every demographic group,” Boudin said. “But certainly young people tend to be more progressive; young people tend to be open-minded to a transformative agenda, and the policy platform that we’ve put forward.”
In many ways, he said, young people are “by far the most likely to be the victims of crime and to be arrested.”
Boudin has perhaps garnered more national press coverage than local coverage, as well as high-profile endorsements like Bernie Sanders and Shaun King. But at the university, Boudin was joined a local celebrity of sorts: Jimmie Fails — the co-creator and lead actor in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
“He’s going to bring justice to a system that’s very corrupt,” Fails said. He hoped Boudin would change “the discrepancy for the amount of black people who are in jail versus the percentage of black people who are in the city.”
Fails said he met Boudin roughly two months ago when Boudin was “looking lost” outside of his home in the Mission. “I was like, ‘What are you doing man?’” Fails recalled. “He told me about all his policies and gave me a pamphlet.”
Fails was sold.
Yvette Simpson, the CEO of Democracy for America, a progressive PAC, said that Boudin is on the organization’s list of “criminal justice champions.” That includes Larry Krasner, a career criminal defense attorney who was elected as Philadelphia’s DA in January 2018, and Kim Foxx, the chief prosecutor in Cook County, Ill. who is considered a reform-minded prosecutor.
“We believe Chesa should be added to that list,” Simpson said.
— Julian Mark
I am told Precinct #7546 at 1525 Waller, in District 5, did not have ballots with the District 5 candidates on it.
Dept. of Elections says that was fixed by around 9:23 a.m.
It’s not clear how many people were unable to vote for D5 candidates.
— Joe Eskenazi (@EskSF) November 5, 2019
3 p.m. — Trouble at Precinct 7546
The Department of Elections confirmed that, this morning, it did not have ballots for the District 5 race on this Waller Street polling place.
That situation was resolved by 9:23 a.m., but that means voters who arrived during the first 143 minutes of the day may not have been able to cast their votes for district supervisor.
The Department of Elections is attempting to “remedy” that situation; we will update this post when they tell us just how that can be done.
— Joe Eskenazi
2:40 p.m.: John’s Grill is decadent — but not depraved
On election day, John’s Grill serves as the epicenter of all schmoozing in this here city.
Politicians, journalists, city workers, homeless people, bemused tourists — anyone with a mouth, basically — is entitled to wander in here at Ellis Street and fill and clean plate after plate of Caesar salad and ravioli and knock back a healthy pour of house red.
It’s a back-slappy scene in a back-slappy city and it harks to an earlier era when barrels of cider would be rolled out to satiate half-drunk election-day revelers who expected no less.
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It was, as ever, a mad house here and served in stark contrast to the sparse election day turnout scenes reported across the city. Who would this low turnout benefit? “The candidates running unopposed,” quipped one political kneecapper.
And everyone laughed and then groaned. Ohhhhh the veneer of democracy. It’s funny because it’s true.
San Francisco is a city with a government run like a cartel, so you’d expect anyone and everyone to make an appearance. And they did! The mayor; Willie Brown; most of the Board of Supervisors; the CEO of the Giants; a guy in a Tom Steyer for president shirt who wasn’t Tom Steyer (it was his brother); various politically active up-and-comers and commissioners recognizable from their social media photos.
And the cops blocked off the street, so nobody was getting run over here. No word on whether the men and women in blue would get their share of ravioli and Caesar salad. Everyone else did.
You become inured to a lot here in San Francisco; at a recent charity auction for a politically blessed community fund, one could watch elected officials onstage cajole developers and lobbyists in the crowd — people who, inevitably, have business pending before the city — to donate more and more to the good cause. Come on! We know you’re good for it!
And then everyone drank vicariously on the dime of the free-spending corporation attempting to corner the market on political consultants.
So, that’s a bit unseemly. But that wasn’t the scene today. Today was just a display of clubbiness in a clubby town. That’s all.
And it was also a last chance for city politicos to attempt to spin and gaslight journalists. Which is odd, when you think about it. It’s like lying to St. Peter. What’s done is done, and the truth is going to come out soon enough.
The politicos in attendance, bedecked in their telltale color-coded campaign paraphernalia, smiled their last brittle smiles and decamped this meeting place. There are a handful of hours before the polls close, and they would pound the pavement.
Something must be done, and that’s something.
— Joe Eskenazi
11:25 a.m.: Desolation in Bayview
Voting was quiet in Bayview Hunter’s Point — by mid-morning it almost felt that there was no election. No matter that some of the worst police shootings happened in the district. The 2015 shooting of Mario Woods, in fact, kicked off a number of reforms, but the former District Attorney George Gascón filed no criminal charges in that (or any) police shooting case. Protesters challenged those decisions and kept after Gascón closely enough that he opted out of another term and has since returned to Los Angeles.
It appears that the prospect of a new District Attorney, however, failed to energize voters here.
Lina Priestly, 34, who works at the City College campus, said she was focused on the affordable housing issues. “A lot of people need it,” she said. On the District Attorney’s race, she had little to say “They all sound shady to me, ” she said “making promises they can’t keep.” The campus polling station had only logged 14 votes by 11 a.m.
Less than a half-mile away at the Bayview Police Station’s polling room, Vic Chung, a 32-year-old community organizer, was only the 10th person to cast their ballot at 10:30 a.m. To her, the district attorney’s race is the most important. “I voted for Chesa” — Chesa Boudin, the deputy public defender pledging to remake the DA’s office, she said. “I strongly believe he is the only standout candidate, the only one who believes in transformative justice.”
At the Josephine Lee Recreation Center on Oakdale near Third Street, they have had only 14 voters — much to the dismay of 86 year-old Dorris Vincent. “Too many people dropping off ballots,” that they have had two months to turn in. There are 1,620 people registered to vote here, and Vincent expects to only see a fraction of that. “People are too engrossed in the national mess,” she said about the low turnout.
Vincent has now worked 50 San Francisco elections. She was, in 2017, diagnosed with Stage Four cancer, and told that there was nothing that could be done for her medically. But she’s kept working elections every year since. “God is good,” she says.
— Lydia Chavez
10 a.m.: The Gathering Storm.
It’s election day. An outhouse has been deposited in front of every polling place, and a political aspirant has been deposited in front of every BART stop.
Candidates and backers and multi-colored armies of placard-waving volunteers are on the streets, en masse, to Get Out the Vote. Truth be told, much of the vote has already been Gotten Out — 65,000 ballots had already made their way to City Hall by sundown last night (100,000 would be normal for an off-year election such as this).
But what else is everyone gonna do?
Today’s election, by San Francisco standards, is a piece of cake. A cookie, even. We’re not voting on 28 ballot propositions; we’re not voting on competing billion-dollar plans as a result of breakdown in the legislative process.
Rather, we’re deciding six ballot propositions and nine elected offices — only two of them seriously contested. Mayor London Breed is facing only token opposition, though it remains to be seen if she’ll poll well or, like Mayor Ed Lee in 2015, lurch to the finish, portending a turbulent next few years.
The competitive races are for District 5 supervisor and for District Attorney. We won’t neglect the rest of the ballot, but we’ll be focusing on those.
In District 5, Supervisor Vallie Brown, the former Breed aide tapped by the mayor to fill her old seat, faces off against tenant attorney Dean Preston. Expect a tight race, with a low turnout likely aiding the incumbent. It remains to be seen if Brown will be dogged by the Oct. 10 revelation that she in 1994 evicted several low-income black tenants.
The supervisor, orally, in writing, and even in campaign materials, claimed these tenants were freeloaders who refused to pay rent and hadn’t done so for years. She further accused these low-income black renters of being pawns, “vulnerable people,” in her words, being “exploited” by her opponents.
Then receipts — literal receipts — were unearthed. The tenants were paying rent. Every month. As they claimed. Brown, via an attorney, apologized. It remains to be seen if she’ll be hit with a defamation suit.
It also remains to be seen if this situation — the unearthing of a 25 year-old eviction, the maligning of the evicted tenants, and the hurried apology when written proof of their steady payment was produced — will play a role in this election.
This will be, once again, a very low turnout contest. And this situation only came to light on Oct. 10 and was covered sporadically at best in the press.
Expect a stressful night if Preston leads after the first round at 8:45 or is within five or so points. If Brown is up by more than that, she’ll likely win, barring wild day-of voting numbers for Preston.
The other contested race is to succeed District Attorney George Gascón, who last month resigned his post to run for the same position in Los Angeles. What would have been the first open DA’s race in a century and change was upended when, some two weeks prior to the election, Breed installed her preferred candidate Suzy Loftus into the role — much to the chagrin of challengers Nancy Tung, Leif Dautch, and Chesa Boudin.
It remains to be seen if the flurry of activity and forest-destroying dissemination of press releases Loftus generated in her tenure as interim DA outweighs the allegations of crass opportunism and gamesmanship, or the uniting rallying cry — “Shenanigans!” — latched onto by her opponents.
It also remains to be seen if a subsequent $650,000 outside spending barrage by the Police Officers Association and other law-enforcement outfits to boost Loftus and denigrate the leftist Boudin is a major factor in today’s outcome.
The TV and mail ads are extremely crude; they appear to have been teleported to the present from a 1980s TV movie about cops and politicians. But they may yet appeal to some voters, particularly older, law-and-order voters — though, at this stage in the game, many of those people already mailed in their ballots long ago.
Boudin backers, perhaps a bit optimistically, hope the over-the-top nature of the ads turns voters off while adding to his name recognition.
Either way, this figures to be a potentially excruciating ranked-choice contest. If Tung, the race’s only Chinese candidate, doesn’t see a healthy number of votes in the Permanent Absentee Voters tabulation released at 8:45 tonight, it may spell early doom for her.
Dautch has, all along, positioned himself as everybody’s potential No. 2 vote — the Mark Leno strategy. But, as was Leno’s downfall, can he net enough No. 1 votes?
Finally, Boudin, a public defender running for DA, is a departure from the other three candidates, all career prosecutors. Ranked-choice voting doesn’t tend to reward candidates who stray too far from the pack; it’s not at all certain where Boudin’s No. 2 and No. 3 votes will come from — and, without those, he cannot win.
The day-of voting results will figure to skew more to the left than the 65,000 votes already mailed to City Hall. So, expect Team Loftus to be in good spirits if she’s 10 points or more ahead of Boudin in early mail ballots, and to be in great spirits if the lead is 15 points or more.
Expect nervousness and the grinding of teeth if the tally is close or Boudin is actually ahead.
So, all of that is in in the back of every candidate or volunteer’s mind as he or she cajoles the people getting on and off of buses and trains. Expect 10 more hours of fervent activity.
Then the shouting ends, and the counting begins.
Stick with us.
— Joe Eskenazi