City Hall, Nov. 6 2018. Photo by Abraham Rodriguez.

Please return to this page throughout the day for results, updates, analysis, and coverage from Mission Local

Update, Mar. 4, 5:50 p.m.

320,000 votes still left, as Fielder hovers at 30 percent

As new election results were reported on Wednesday, the registration and turnout number on the department’s website changed from 144,667 to 180,205, leaving 323,694 votes still to count in total, and 112,000 uncounted ballots already submitted.

Broken down by mail-in vs. day-of votes, with both still have votes to be counted, the numbers show several trends.

In the Democratic primary, Elizabeth Warren just edges out Joe Biden for second place among San Francisco voters, with Bernie Sanders holding onto 31.7% for the lead.

In the contested race for District 11 State Senator, incumbent Scott Wiener’s lead increased a little taking 56.04 percent, with challenger Jackie Fielder dropping from 32.5 to 31.51, but still showing a stronger than expected performance.

Fielder’s campaign director Roisin Isner remained confident Wednesday. “Either way, we’re going on to November, and we pretty dramatically overperformed. I’ve talked to every consultant I know, and they all say yeah, that’s dramatic. It confirms the theory of the race I have, which is that he is vulnerable, and he’s become divisive.”

The District 17 Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee race remained mostly where it had been Tuesday night after the Wednesday afternoon updates, with the progressive slate including Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney and former Supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos, and David Campos leading the field.

Proposition E, Limits on Office Development, remains a close contest, currently showing a 54/45 split between those in favor and those opposed.

And votes on Prop D, the Vacancy tax, are holding steady at the 68.04% it needs to pass, as they were last night.

— Hiya Swanhuyser

Update, 12:59 a.m. 

Last call for us — with perhaps 100,000-plus ballots yet to count, here’s how things stand

The Department of Elections has released a final count for the day, updating prior results from 608 precincts to 609. As you’d guess, this hasn’t changed things much; Prohibition Party candidate Phil Collins didn’t pick up a single vote and is stuck at 219 votes for the day. Alas.

You can scroll down and see the results; we’re going to call it a night now.

The most important number is the one the Department of Elections isn’t releasing tonight: The number of ballots yet to count. John Arntz, the city’s election director, says we can expect an initial tally at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. But, considering that the not-quite-145,000 votes in the can represent around 29 percent of the electorate, we could see that number roughly double.

So, that’s something to keep in mind. As we noted at the outset, 18 hours ago, results can change dramatically as ballots trickle in for the next several days. We also predicted that 100,000 or even 140,000 ballots may remain uncounted at end of day, and that seems like a safe bet.

As we additionally posited at the outset of all this, today’s results will be determined by the late vote-by-mail crowd — and whether that crowd is as reliably left-leaning as usual, considering even many staunch Democratic voters held onto their ballots until the last minute this year.

Everything is predictable — until it isn’t. Wednesday promises to produce a trove of information. See you then.

— Joe Eskenazi

Update, 11:40 p.m.

Scott Wiener girds for battle

Sen. Scott Wiener stands head and shoulders above most everyone he meets — including, today, his primary challenger. Photo by Hiya Swanhuyser.

“Just remember that an enormous number of votes remain to be counted, even after tonight. We don’t even know how many absentee ballots will be put in the mail today.”

Scott Weiner level-headedly addressed attendees at his campaign festivities later than expected, at about 9:15 p.m., at the Cadillac Bar and Grill on Ninth Street near Mission Street. And his level-headed fans, wearing stylish business clothes and YIMBY t-shirts, seemed happy.

Earlier, the huge cantina space had filled slowly with Weiner supporters, who waited amiably and cheered as Joe Biden won state after state on Super Tuesday. A cheer also went up when the incumbent arrived; he was then overtaken by television camera operators and other media reps. Soon, however, he was chatting with people in the highly diverse crowd. Literally head and shoulders above nearly everyone, Weiner was easy to spot. Many times, the notoriously flat-affected State Senator even smiled.

Wiener at latest count registered just shy of 55 percent of the vote, though challenger Jackie Fielder outperformed expectations to claim 32.5 percent. Wiener registered some 30,000 more votes than Fielder, however.

His speech, which included many thanks, to people and organizations, also pointed to a theme of the evening: a sense of impending battle. “When I look out at this crowd,” he said, “I see a large group of amazing leaders, who are locking arms and working together for the future of this city and this community,” he said.

And toward the end of his speech, Weiner even offered a concession to wilding: “If you’re not stirring people up, it probably means you’re not doing anything,” he said.

Just before 9 p.m., Mayor London Breed arrived, as did Lieutenant Governor Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis and Assemblymember David Chiu. The elected officials, most notably Breed, gave interviews and posed for photos, and then moved to a back area of the restaurant to confab.

And after Weiner’s calm words, the mayor brought passion to the microphone. “Everybody who put their name on the ballot … is a winner,” she said, to loud applause. “It isn’t enough that I’m the mayor. I need a board of supervisors I can work with,” she continued. The mayor also took time to express gratitude: “I want to thank all the organizations who continue to bring people together, like the YIMBYs,” she said, adding “We have to make sure Scott Wiener remains our senator. And in November, we have to take back the city, and we have to take back the White House!” The crowd roared.

Incumbent Assemblymember David Chiu, who ran unopposed in this election, echoed the theme, and added a height joke. “He not only stands tall every day,” he said of Weiner, “he has courage, and he works harder than anyone in this room including me. After tonight, we’ve got to regroup. We have to make sure we know what kind of city we want SF to be. Do we want it to be a real 21st century city? We have to take San Francisco back!”

— Hiya Swanhuyser

Update, 11:31 p.m.

‘Wake-up call for Wiener’ as Jackie Fielder breaks 30 percent

Supervisor Dean Preston, left, and Jackie Fielder. Photo by Julian Mark.


Supervisor Dean Preston, who has supported Jackie Fielder from the get-go, said that Fielder’s showing in the primary “is going to be a wake-up call for [Scott] Wiener.” 

As of 11:30 p.m., Fielder had 32.5 percent of the vote. 

He said her results were “encouraging,” and “she’s got many months to expand her base and win.” 

Preston said that Fielder, over the last couple of months, “picked her battles” — consolidating a mostly progressive base in progressive-voting San Francisco neighborhoods. She must go beyond that, he said, but believes that is attainable. 

“Her message can resonate far beyond the base that she appealed to in this campaign,” he said. “She’s just getting started.” 

For her part, Fielder said, “It’s right where we need to be.” 

Earlier in the night, Fielder, 25, noted that she and her team had accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. “We have gone from zero to 100 in just two and a half months,” she said. “I had no money and no endorsements — this is my first election ever.”  

— Julian Mark

Sanders’ Mission District office to go dark following California Primary victory

Former Vice President Joe Biden vaulted back into the lead — claiming a majority of Tuesday’s 14 primary states — but there was one big state he did not win: California. 

As the Associated Press declared Bernie Sanders the victor in the state, staffers and volunteers at Sanders’ little office on Mission Street went berserk, spilling out onto the street and chanting in a large scrum: “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win.” 

The win, however, was tinged with the realization that Biden reasserted himself as a front runner and a major force for Sanders to reckon with. 

“The worry is the moderates are doing a real concerted effort against Bernie — and it’s something that’s actually scary to see build up,” said Kaylah Williams, who managed DA Chesa Boudin’s successful campaign in November. 

But she noted that the fear could be positive for the campaign and encourage volunteers to work harder — and may yet attract more. 

Jon Jacobo, the California Latino press secretary for the campaign, said he was happy with the victory. And he added that Sanders’ office being in the Mission was no accident. 

“The one thing I can tell you is: where there’s a heavy concentration of Latinos, you will find a campaign office and some staffers,” he said, explaining that the Sanders campaign “hired people from those communities” to do Spanish-language literature and other outreach. 

In terms of the California and Latino vote results, Jacobo said, “I’m ecstatic.” 

As he spoke, some of the lights in the office were shutting off. In many ways, it’s the last time they would shine on the operations of the Sanders campaign on Mission Street. 

“Just because this field office is closing, it’s not the end of the work we’re doing,” Holly Cordeiro, a regional field director, told a semi-circle of around two dozen staff and volunteers outside of the office. “I hope you’re encouraged by the results in California — to keep working with each other to keep this movement going.” 

— Julian Mark

Update, 11:05 p.m. 

The night grows late and trends solidify

As of 10:45 p.m.  144,614 votes have been counted in San Francisco. Here’s how they add up. 

Prohibition Party candidate Phil Collins has registered 219 votes. Not bad — but hard to foresee the genesis of something more. He seems to lack that invisible touch tonight, tonight, tonight. 

Rep. Nancy Pelosi has the 72.4 percent showing you’d expect of the sitting Speaker of the House. But Shahid Buttar is pulling away from GOP perennial candidate John Dennis; he has 12.7 percent of the vote to Dennis’ 9.2 percent and about 4,000 more votes. This is far, far less of the vote than Team Buttar said it wanted to get even yesterday but it’s a top-two primary and Buttar is, for the moment, in the No. 2 slot. 

In the State Senate race, incumbent Scott Wiener is holding at 54.7 percent, but challenger Jackie Fielder has seen her percentage grow to 32.5 percent. That’s better than she professed she would be happy with — or,  per Team Fielder, even thought she could do at this point. This contest will be revisited in November. 

In judges races: Deputy Public Defender Maria Evangelista wore an all-white outfit on election day but seems destined for a black robe. She has 64 percent of the vote to Pang Ly’s 43 percent, despite Ly pouring $241,000 of her own savings into the race. 

Fellow public defender Michelle Tong is pulling ahead of Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, 56.4 percent to 43.2 percent. 

Eviction Defense Collaborative founder Carolyn Gold has taken a slim lead on Rani Singh at 51.3 percent to 48.3 percent. 

In ballot measures: With 71 percent of the vote, City College infrastructure bond Prop. A appears to be a lock. Prop. B, the earthquake bond, has 81 percent of the vote. Pas mal. Prop. C, the arcane health benefits for former Housing Authority workers measure, is surging at 68 percent. 

Prop. D, an Aaron Peskin-authored measure that would charge a tax on landlords who leave commercial storefronts vacant, has crossed the two-thirds threshold at 68 percent. And Prop. E, which would meter office production based upon affordable housing construction, now stands at 55.4 percent of the vote. 

As has often been the case, more progressive candidates and measures have gained strength as later returns trickle in. That’s also been the case with the race for the Democratic County Central Committee, in which, to this point, progressive candidates are out-and-out dominating the race. 

Many, many votes remain to be counted. But trends are trends. Onward.

— Joe Eskenazi

Update, 10:51 p.m. 

Shahid Buttar’s hard road ahead

After the latest tranche of votes came in putting Buttar in second place, the goateed candidate with a J.D. in Constitutional law from Stanford, said he was “excited,” but not surprised. But as he watched the national results on the television screen hanging above the outdoor garden at Zeitgeist, Buttar also knew that November had just gotten a lot more complicated. “Bernie as the nominee ensures victory (for me), but Biden complicates the route to victory,” he said.

If it doesn’t work out in 2020, he said, it’s likely his supporters will want him to begin thinking about 2022, but “anything can change quickly,” in politics, he said. He had watched Tuesday night how rapidly the political landscape can change as Biden moved from the brink of vanishing to suddenly becoming a frontrunner.

No matter what happens, Buttar’s campaign workers appear committed for the long haul. Make Rafa, a musician has known Buttar since Occupy Oakland in 2011 and has been working with and for him since then.

Jason Myles, also a musician, met Buttar several years ago after hearing him on Redacted and then running into him the next day and having an extended conversation with him. “We’re politically aligned,” he says. “ he sees housing as a human right, data mining as a crime. The dude understands all of this because he has lived it.”

Myles sees it as a big plus to perhaps have someone in Congress “that you can actually talk to.”

— Lydia Chavez

Update, 10:05 p.m. 

With 100,000-plus votes in the can, patterns emerge.

Shahid Buttar makes his way into his election-night gathering at Zeitgeist brimming with confidence. Photo by Lydia Chavez

We’ve cracked 100,000 votes run through the machines, at 103,223. Temperance candidate Phil Collins is up to 167 votes. It’s in the air tonight for him; pour out a glass of seltzer and celebrate. 

Here’s the quick rundown: With not quite 12 percent of the vote, Shahid Buttar has leapfrogged Republican serial candidate John Dennis into second place (Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at 72 percent). Mission Local’s Lydia Chavez watched Buttar walk serenely into Zeitgeist with confidence to spare, predicting he’d hit 30 percent. That’s unlikely, but all he has to do is finish second to earn eight more months of running around looking for votes. 

In the state senate race, incumbent Scott Wiener is registering a comfortable 55.5 percent, but insurgent Jackie Fielder is now at 30.3 percent. It seems likely she’ll come second and earn the November rematch. Her percentage of the vote has grown in this second traunch, but if things keep up at this pace, both candidates can claim some manner of victory. 

Judges: Maria Evangelista now has 62 percent of the vote vs. Pang Ly; Michelle Tong has 55 percent vs. Dorothy Chou Proudfoot; and Rani Singh and Carolyn Gold are in a dogfight at 50.2 percent to 49.6 percent. Stay tuned. 

In ballot measures, Props. A, B, and C are soaring toward victory with room to spare. Prop. D, the commercial vacancy tax, is up at 66.5 percent — but needs 66.7 percent. Nervous backers wondered earlier today if enough money and effort had been raised to impart that this is a tax on landlords, not small businesses. We’ll see. 

Prop. E, which would tie office production to affordable housing creation, is now at 54 percent. 

As noted earlier, perhaps 100,000 or even 140,000 votes will remain uncounted at night’s end. With that in mind, it’s a bit of a folly to too deeply pore over early results with respect to the Democratic County Central Committee, where the top 14 finishers clear in Assembly District 17 and the top 10 in AD-17. But many of the most recognizable names are doing well, as are the progressive-leaning “social justice” slate members — to a high degree. 

It’s early yet, but some current and former elected officials are, in fact, not making the cut right now. Both Supervisors Shamann Walton and Ahsha Safai are on the outside looking in right now. That’s pretty extraordinary.  Safai’s November challenger for District 11 Supervisor, John Avalos, is among the top vote-getters in this race thus far. That may or may not be a November bellwether, but it’s certainly interesting. 

— Joe Eskenazi

Update, 9:45 p.m. 

Jackie Fielder’s strong early showing

Jackie Fielder, the Democratic Socialist who is taking on state Sen. Scott Wiener, saw her first returns come in at 27 percent. Those are commonly regarded as the most conservative voters, and Fielder said: “I would have been satisfied with 20 percent.” 

Her campaign party, held at Barrel Proof on Mission between 19th and 20th (Mission Local heard this was the recommendation of Last Black Man In San Francisco star Jimmie Fails, who was in attendance), and smiles were contagious. 

But Fielder remained only cautiously optimistic. “We’ll have to see if it’s a success and this isn’t such a fluke of a first result,” she said. Nevertheless, a possible success could be thanks to people seeing “through the corporate establishment that doesn’t represent everyday working people.” 

“Obviously,” she said. “We have a lot more days to see how it actually goes.”  

— Julian Mark 

Update, 9:34 p.m. 

A great night for Bernie — in San Francisco at least

Jane Kim, left, Claire Lau and Jon Jacobo work for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

At the Bernie Sanders Mission Street campaign office at around 8:30 p.m., more than 100 volunteers and staffers roared, chanting “Bernie, Bernie,” as a volunteer paraded a life-size cardboard cutout of the Vermont senator through the office. 

There is, indeed, some cause for celebration — at least in California, where Sanders is pulling ahead in the state with the most delegates (415). It is in many ways a lifeline for Sanders, as Joe Biden by 9 p.m. claimed eight of 14 Super Tuesday states. 

Jane Kim, formerly a San Francisco supervisor and now Sanders’ California statewide political director, remained unperturbed by Biden’s resurgence. “The one thing I’ve learned being on this campaign is that things change rapidly day to day,” she said. “So you might be thinking about one candidate one week — and the four days later it’ll be a different candidate that you weren’t thinking about before.” 

“At the end of the day,” she added, “you just have to count the votes and count the delegates.” 

The polls closed at 8 p.m. And although ballots are already being tabulated, and people may still be in line at the polls, Kim declared a victory in California. “I think our win tonight speaks to the tremendous organization and discipline that this campaign has built,” she said. 

Although Kim admitted it was just “forecasted,” Sanders does lead with 28 percent to Biden’s 17 percent.

— Julian Mark

Update, 9:22 p.m. 

Warren HQ is not the place to be. Repeat: WARREN HQ IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE

AAAAAAH! PEOPLE! Photo of bare Warren HQ by Lydia Chavez

Shortly after polls closed, Mission Local’s Lydia Chavez knocked on the doors at Elizabeth Warren headquarters on Valencia at 14th. They were locked. A trio of volunteers within seemed rattled. They refused to allow Chavez inside. They refused to answer any questions. One promised to pass her business card onto Warren’s state campaign (THANKS A LOT, DUDE).

As the door closed, one double-checked it was locked. They appeared actively frightened of people. Not a good look for Warren’s local campaign on a night that wasn’t a good look writ large.

Here’s hoping, in a silver lining, they get their deposit back for the Mission District HQ.

— Joe Eskenazi and Lydia Chavez

Update, 8:59 p.m. 

Preliminary results are in

Jackie Fielder and Sen. Scott Wiener

So, the initial 72,340 votes are in. And 131 San Franciscans voted for the Prohibition Party candidate, a man with the improbable name of Phil Collins. Good to know. 

This is a mere scrap of even the votes that’ll be announced tonight, so let’s not dwell to much on that (Sorry, Phil). But, quickly: 

Nancy Pelosi has 70.1 percent of the vote; Republican John Dennis has 12.6 percent; and Shahid Buttar has his work cut out for him with 10.6 percent. He needs to get into the top-two to earn a rematch in November. 

Sen. Scott Wiener has 56 percent of the vote. Democratic Socialist challenger Jackie Fielder has 27 percent and Republican Erin Smith has just under 17 percent. 

Both Buttar and Fielder’s campaigns told me yesterday they would be happy with 20+ percent of the vote. Right now, for Buttar, that’s aspirational but the night is young yet. Fielder, if voting patterns hold, may yet hit 30 percent or more. So, by her internal standards, that’s a good showing. But is it enough to actually have a shot at winning? Jane Kim — who had a lengthier resume than Fielder along with more money, a bigger base, and more name recognition — actually beat Wiener in the primary, only to lose in the general. 

So, we’ll see. It’s early today and in this race. 

In superior court judge races, Maria Evangelista has 58 percent of the vote to Pang Ly’s 42 percent. You’d have to think this is a great showing for Evangelista, considering Ly put $241,000 of her own money into this race. 

Michelle Tong, like Evangelista a public defender, leads Dorothy Chou Proudfoot by a tighter 53-47 tally. Rani Singh has the early lead on Carolyn Gold, 53-47. 

In propositions: A, an $850 million maintenance bond for City College, needs 55 percent of the vote and it has 65 percent; B, an earthquake bond has 77 percent; C, an arcane retiree healthcare measure has 62 percent; D, the commercial vacancy tax has 63 percent (but needs 66.7); and E, which would tie office construction to affordable housing creation has 52 percent. 

On to the next batch. See you at 9:45 or thereabouts.

— Joe Eskenazi

Update, 8 p.m. POLLS HAVE CLOSED

The calm before the storm

YouTube video

The polls have closed — time to let off some steam. 

Johnny Carson used to tell a joke about how, even in the age of computers in which complex tasks are undertaken in billionths of a second, there is no action quicker than the red light turning green and the New York City cabbie behind you laying on the horn. 

You could make the same joke about campaign workers cracking open a beer as soon the polls close. Congratulations, everyone. This Bud’s for you.  

The polls closed at 8 p.m. and the first drop of election results will come at about 8:45 p.m. These will be overwhelmingly comprised of early absentee ballots. Early absentee voters tend to lean right, insofar as anyone in San Francisco leans right. What’s more, eyeballing where the early votes came from in the city, they hailed from areas that lean right — West of Twin Peaks, down by the ballpark, etc. 

It’s funny: Nationally, Joe Biden, riding his South Carolina Joementum, dominated in states with little early voting while Bernie Sanders is holding his own in states (like this one) with lots of early voting. But, locally, it figures to be the opposite. 

If the pattern holds, more left-leaning day-of-election voters, late absentee voters and provisional voters will tilt the races. That’s how you got DA Chesa Boudin and Supervisor Dean Preston, after all. 

But these aren’t rules. They’re more like guidelines. And, this year, the late voters may not be as reliably progressive as in years past. As noted in our election preview this morning, many staunch Democratic voters have been holding onto their ballots until the last moment due to the instability of the top-of-the-ticket race. 

As you (and Joe Biden) would guess, traditional and habitual Democratic voters may skew a bit centrist. 

So any progressive candidate who finds him or herself in a deep hole come 8:45 may be in for a long night. Conversely, if progressive candidates or measures perform unexpectedly well, they may stay in the catbird seat for the foreseeable future. To wit, if any of the more ostensibly left-leaning judge candidates are in front from the get-go — that’d be Maria Evangelista, Michelle Tong, and Carolyn Gold — they are in dominant positions. If any of the bond or tax measures are passing the 55 percent or 66.7 percent thresholds come 8:45, you can pencil them in. 

With that said, perhaps 100,000 or even 140,000 votes will be left to count after the clock strikes 12. That’s a lot of votes, especially in down-ballot races.

So, that’s something to think about for this 45 minute interregnum. Fortify yourself with the beverage of your choice and hang in there.

— Joe Eskenazi

Voters cast their ballots at Fire Station No. 7 on 19th at Folsom. Photo by Hiya Swanhuyser

Update, 6:25 p.m.

Puns, democracy run rampant at fire station polling place

“I’m the poll inspector. That’s p-o-l-l, even though we’re in a firehouse.”

Aaron Hardisty’s dad jokes aside, “It’s going really well. I’m seeing people vote for the first time, like one young man who voted for president for the first time today. I said ‘Congratulations for making history,’ because voting in a Democratic primary is history-making.”

He estimates 300 people cast their votes at SFFD Station 7 at 19th and Folsom as of 4:15 p.m., with many via dropping off their mail-in ballots. Some, however, went for the more old-fashioned method. “If you use the voting machines, you get the satisfying ‘ding’ of democracy,” Hardisty said. “We want every vote to be cast.”

The station has five workers altogether: Hardisty the inspector, and four clerks. “We got here at 6 a.m., and then when the polls opened at 7, we did a ‘poll open’ cheer.” At the end of the day, Hardisty said, the crew will have about two hours of cleanup, and will then transfer the votes themselves to the Sheriff’s Department and Municipal Transportation Agency, “along the chain of custody.”

The fire station is a great location for a polling place, and the firefighters have been welcoming and helpful, he said. “They mopped. They moved their trucks. They’re great examples of civil servitude.” The firefighters themselves were unavailable for comment, according to the regulations governing the department. But when a would-be voter approached the firefighters shellacking a ladder in the locker bay, looking for the polling place, they good-naturedly pointed her over to the folding tables and aluminum voting stalls standing where a firetruck is usually parked.

And, Hardisty says, “When the polls close at 8, we’ll do a ‘poll closed’ cheer.”

— Hiya Swanhuyser

Update, 5:11 p.m.

Bernie’s big presence

Simon Wil, left, and Elizabeth Huphers work at the Sanders office. Photo by Julian Mark

Save for a few canvassers passing out voter guides, and the everyday Mission District crowd walking around with “I voted” stickers above their hearts, one might not have noticed that this Tuesday was particularly “super.” 

As the country watches and waits to learn who might reign victorious on one of the most important primary election days, the Mission District — where progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren set up field offices less than a mile apart — at times seemed more swayed by the remarkably beautiful weather. 

Indeed, most everyone has already cast their ballots. But that didn’t mean campaign volunteers were lounging around at Dolores Park. 

“Today is about making sure every voter who wants to cast their vote feels empowered to do so,” said Elizabeth Huphers, 34, standing at Bernie Sanders’ San Francisco field office on Mission Street between 18th and 19th.

Huphers is a first-time volunteer and lives in the Mission. She said the campaign is sending out volunteers and doing phone banking to make sure “there’s nothing that will stop them from getting to the poll and turning in their mail-in ballot.” 

Annechien Schreuder, left, and Mary Leatherman, sit in the sun at the Sanders office on Mission Street. “We’re hot for Bernie,” Leatherman said.


The office was buzzing with phone bankers and volunteers. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits — for a good reason. Bernie Sanders, experiencing a groundswell of grassroots support, has emerged as the candidate to beat, as moderate candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have dropped out and thrown their weight behind Joe Biden. 

Biden, capturing more than 50 percent of the vote in South Carolina on Saturday, transformed over the weekend from an afterthought to Sanders’ primary foil. 

For Sanders volunteers, however, Biden wasn’t in their minds before South Carolina, and “he’s still not,” Huphers said. “Throughout this whole campaign, we’ve reiterated to volunteers that we’re not focused on other candidates — not focused on what they can’t do for other people.”  

Mission Local saw no Biden ground game in the Mission on Tuesday, and even though Warren has an office here, almost no Warren volunteers, either. 

Where were they? 

Over on Valencia and 15th streets, at the Warren field office, a small handful of volunteers sat in a dark, quiet room. A female volunteer in a teal Warren t-shirt told a pair of reporters hoping for a tour and an interview that “everything goes through the communications team.”

What’s the fun in that? 


Back on Mission Street, near Taqueria Cancun, 20-year-old David Glover was asking almost every passerby: “Have you voted already?” 

Sean Ray, in his 50s, rolled by in his wheelchair and said he had. He voted for Bernie Sanders. “My ex-boyfriend told me to,” he said, noting that Sanders “has been on our side for 17 years.” 

Ray also said he cuts state Sen. Scott Wiener’s hair. Asked if he voted for Wiener — who’s running for a second term — Ray hesitated. “Yes, I did.” 

The young Glover, however, was not canvasing for Wiener or Sanders. He was actually out there for Shahid Buttar, the Democratic Socialist running to unseat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

“Shahid is one of these down-ballot races that matters equally — if not more,” he said. “Because if we’re going to get our policy platform through, we’re going to need people in congress and people at the municipal level.” 

“That’s one of the things the Republicans have been beating us at,” he added. 

– Julian Mark 

David Glover says down-ballot races will be crucial. Photo by Julian Mark


Alex Clemens of Lighthouse Public Affairs has Madame Speaker in his pocket. Photo by Joe Eskenazi


Update, 2:20 p.m.

John’s Grill Election Day Luncheon: A wan crowd in a sick city

The traditional Election Day luncheon at John’s Grill, a chance for San Franciscans to enjoy a free meal and gawk at unindicted co-conspirators, took place as usual today. 

But, truth be told, this is not a traditional Election Day. 

And while the turnout today was by no means sparse, it was, in comparison with past years, rather wan. Everyone was bunched up around the front door, but, like a Muni bus, there was plenty of space in the back. 

The floor was a lot cleaner, though. And the food was a lot better. 

Why did people stay away? All the reasons you’d think they would. One, today’s is only a primary election, with the most compelling matters taking place on a state and national level. Two, eating out of open troughs of food alongside anyone and everyone who ducked in off the streets may not be the hottest ticket at the onset of a pandemic. 

But the sickness many chose to avoid today was more metaphysical than physical. It’s the sickness of the San Francisco condition. 

Da Mayor Willie Brown stays in the center of things. Photo by Joe Eskenazi

This is a clubby city and the Election Day luncheon at John’s Grill is San Francisco at its clubbiest. Politicians and power brokers and captains of industry and various political kneecappers and backslappers converge for (free) food and (free) booze and gaze over each others’ shoulders at other eminences while holding serial political discussions. 

That’s a very San Francisco scene all right. But, in the wake of the FBI’s Jan. 27 arrest of ex-Public Works boss Mohammed Nuru and the revelation of a long-running investigation into this city’s culture of casual corruption, scenes like the above take on a different cast. 

It’s harder to shrug your shoulders and say “it is what it is” when what it is is the matter of a federal probe — an ongoing federal probe, which has already produced arrests, as well as a separate investigation by the City Attorney and, potentially, the D.A. to boot. 

So, that’s the pandemic that a number of folks evidently decided to avoid today. That pandemic’s Patient Zero presided over today’s festivities out front while outfitted in a royal blue fedora, while speaking to a longtime soldier in his political army who had earlier pleaded no contest to political corruption charges. That’s not a scene for everyone. 

“Hey, we’re in back,” said a less ostentatious politician, enjoying a quick plate of caesar salad in the shadows. Another city politico wondered how long it’d be before a paper trail in one of several ongoing inquiries traced back to the very site in which everyone was mingling. 

Handshakes — or, considering these times, fist-bumps — were proffered and dignitaries made their exits. Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” blared on the loudspeakers. 

Very superstitious/

Writing’s on the wall

How on the nose. All of it. 

 — Joe Eskenazi

Original post, 6 a.m.

To paraphrase Clubber Lang, my prediction for today’s California Primary: “Pain.” 

The great state of Iowa has set the bar low in vote-counting (just as it did in pizza toppings). So while nobody is expecting an Iowa Caucus-level disaster tonight, there is reason to expect a somewhat chaotic process both in San Francisco and throughout the state. 

At the end of the day on Monday, some 90,000 ballots had arrived at San Francisco City Hall. The last three presidential primaries have averaged around 64 percent turnout here, notes Election Department boss John Arntz. Considering that, he says, we’re running about 25 percent lower than expected on ballots returned thus far. 

But we may make up for that, and then some — and all at once. 

If large numbers of people drop off their vote-by-mail ballots at polling places today, a massive percentage of votes may remain uncounted at day’s end. Considering late absentee votes, provisional votes, and conditional voter registration ballots, perhaps 100,000 or even 140,000 ballots may be piled up at end-of-day, requiring days of patient counting. 

Nobody is patient anymore. 

Bernie Sanders at CCSF Mission Campus, 2016. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

And this pattern will be repeated throughout California. In this state, mail ballots are valid up to three days after Election Day. In this state, you can register and vote on the day of the election — and provisional and conditional ballots require individual scrutiny, which takes more time. 

And there are other factors that portend a flood of late-arriving California ballots. The political data maven Paul Mitchell notes that the state’s most reliable Democratic voters have, so far, returned their ballots at a far lower clip than was the case in 2016.

These are people who figure to vote. They always vote. So what gives? It is what you think it is: They’re waiting to see if any more Democratic presidential hopefuls drop out, or who has momentum, or who does not. We may yet have a stronger turnout than in 2016, but a later one. 

Anecdotal evidence backs up Mitchell’s contention; Arntz confirms that, after Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign, “we got calls right away.” And, no, you can’t undo your vote. Maybe you could’ve done it a month ago, but not now. Between Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, the Chronicle’s preferred candidate Amy Klobuchar and others, there figure to be many wasted votes in this and every California city.

It may be old-hat for San Franciscans, but outside observers figure to be thrown by potential large-scale shifts in voting returns after the polls close. As vote counts stretch on, don’t expect nuance from these low-information critics of the sort who blame ranked-choice voting for our slow process. Absent that excuse there are so many others to concoct: general ineptitude, crackpot conspiracies, undocumented immigrants, needles and feces on the street, etc.  

Just remember: This is a low-barrier voting state, and that’s good. But that leads to slow counting. That’s the trade-off.  

The top of the ballot is, in more ways than one, dictating today’s election. We’re also voting on judges and the Democratic County Central Committee among other races — but nobody is holding onto their ballots until the last moment due to that. 

A giant-killer or a windmill-tilter? Photo illustration by Abraham Rodriguez

Other candidate races of note include the United States House of Representatives in District 12, where upstart Shahid Buttar and others are hoping to unseat Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. 

Buttar is, to put it mildly, an underdog. Much of his ostensible momentum evaporated after Pelosi initiated impeachment proceedings — but his campaign reports its best fund-raising totals after that. He has raised more than half a million dollars; he is a serious candidate who is running a serious race. 

The ultimate goal for Buttar is to finish in the top-two, and earn a rematch with Pelosi in November. 

The same goes for 25-year-old Jackie Fielder, who is taking on State Sen. Scott Wiener. Fielder and her team are confident they’ll earn the November rematch, and feel they can improve whatever showing they register today with eight more months in the field; Fielder has only campaigned in earnest for fewer than two months. 

In something of a rarity, Wiener and Fielder echoed talking points: “I just need to make it to November,” Wiener said prior to today’s voting. “That’s all. I take nothing for granted.” 

Jackie Fielder and Sen. Scott Wiener

If Bernie Sanders does indeed win California and go on to the Democratic nomination, both Fielder and Buttar see this as a boon for them. It may be — and it may not be. Sanders in 2016 endorsed Jane Kim in her state senate campaign and, this year, endorsed Supervisor Dean Preston in his November re-election bid. He may yet see fit to offer his benediction to Fielder — but Buttar is a dicier proposition. 

When on March 1 Sanders was asked, point-blank, to weigh in on his staunch supporter’s race vs. a vital Democratic Party kingmaker and fund-raiser, he hardly offered a reciprocal endorsement

“I have not been involved in that race at all, period,” he told ABC’s Liz Kreutz tersely. “I have known Nancy Pelosi for many, many years and I think under very difficult circumstances she’s doing a good job.” 

So, that happened. We’ll keep an eye on that. 

Finally, San Franciscans will be voting on five measures including Proposition A, a $845 million bond for City College’s crumbling campuses that requires only 55 percent to pass; Prop. D, a vacancy tax for landlords who leave storefronts empty; and Prop. E, which would tie office construction tallies to affordable housing production

To varying degrees all of these are expected to pass. But several of the measures, like Prop. D, do require a two-thirds approval — and it’s not like voters are especially confident in government these days

Polls close tonight at 8 p.m. and the first vote totals — the 90,000-odd ballots already in the can plus a few others — will be publicized at around 8:45 p.m. Three more tallies will be released, with the last coming at about midnight. 

We’ll be covering the election all day until late. Check back early and often.

— Joe Eskenazi

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. A good man that helped me restore my relationship (pristbacasim2000@ gmail. com)

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  2. Joe,

    You misunderstood me.

    When I said, “parties” …

    I meant where are they going to get drunk with the people.

    Shake their butts.

    Laugh and cry.

    I’m guessing the judges will be at El Rio.

    I may be wrong.

    It wouldn’t the the first time.

    Even, today.

    Go Giants!


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  3. Joe,

    Silly, but …

    Do you know where the various parties are?

    Judges in particular.

    Anxious to check off the results w/my magic marker and
    compare the results to the ‘League of Pissed-Off Voters’ offering.

    Go Giants!


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    1. H. —

      Judges are ostensibly a non-partisan position. If we wanted to, we could go through and check on everyone’s registration. But not all of the candidates live in San Francisco (that’s allowed with judges).

      I predict a fairly high crossover for you and the League.



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