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District-By-District Analysis










Bay Guardian In Denial

As Its Slate Card Flops


Peskin Also Loses Ballot

Propositions, Judicial Race


By Warren Hinckle

In an historic and politically histrionic defeat for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee controlled by Aaron Peskin, moderates have been elected to the Board of Supervisors –all of Peskin’s ‘progressive’ candidates lost – and the majority of his ballot propositions were also rejected by the voters in the November 2 election.

Many media have been hesitant to call the contested Supervisorial races, but  The Argonaut’s election analysts declared early that Marina native son Mark Farrell would defeat Janet Reilly in District 2 and Melia Cohen has prevailed in a wide field of candidates in Bayview District 10.

The Argonaut first called the District 2 race for Farrell on Sunday night. Reilly after an expensive and flashy campaign overseen by her political guru husband Clint was in first place by some 400 votes in early returns, but her lead diminished after 2nd choice vote transfers under the city’s Ranked Choice Voting system. Votes from the other two D. 2 candidates, assistant US Attorney Abraham Simmons and Clinton family friend Kat Anderson – both ran to the relative right of Reilly in the conservative Marina/Pacific Heights district – transferred heavily to Farrell as the preferred 2nd choice when it became clear the other candidates could not win first place. Attorney and longtime DCCC member Arlo Hale Smith Jr.,  a ranked choice voting expert, estimated that when transfers are completed Farrell would win by approximately 200 votes.

A similarly pronounced vote transfer occurred in District 10 where Peskin’s candidate Tony Kelly lead in early voting returns but political newcomer Malia Cohen began the move  toward first place after vote transfers from the multiplicity of candidates running. (A complete district-by-district analysis by ranked choice voting expert Smith is posted on this site.)

The election results show a remarkable resurgence in moderate San Francisco politics, belying the city’s Berkeley-esque national image. Peskin also failed in an attempt to extend his political reach to the Bench when he ran a gay Latino attorney against sitting Superior Court judge Richard Ulmer. The entire San Francisco Bench including its gay and lesbian judges backed Ulmer against Peskin’s candidate, who lost.

When it isn’t busy trying to scratch up lunch money by repossessing the delivery trucks of the rival SF Weekly, The Bay Guardian prides itself on the political clout of its election Endorsements which fill the entire front page  — and seemed weirdly in denial after all its first choice candidates for Supervisor lost. It ran a long article extolling the virtues for progressives of its beloved ranked choice voting system in Oakland – ignoring the progressive loses in San Francisco under ranked choice voting – and executive editor Tim Redmond posted a column denying that there was a political machine in San Francisco, when the Guardian is the lungs and spleen of Peskin’s machine. One can sympathize with the Guardian’s discomfort. “This election, his preferred system of ranked choice voting came around and bit Peskin in the ass in San Francisco,” said John Shanley, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s delegate to the Democratic Central Committee.

Shanley called the November election “a disaster for the progressives.” Ballot issues favored by Peskin’s DCCC and the Guardian, including invitation-to-voter-fraud initiatives to allow non-citizens to vote and same-day voter registration on the day of  next year’s mayor’s election, were defeated, along with an attempt to increase the hotel tax to a max that would send budget-minded tourists to Daly City to drink, and the voters passed the “Sit-Lie” Proposition L, that the DCCC opposed Guardian hyperventilatedly attacked.

The disaster for the Peskin Machine was extensive. Scott Wiener who was elected Supervisor in the Castro’s District 8 has been Peskin’s nemesis on the DCCC – Peskin took control of the party structure in 2008 after defeating Wiener for chair in a charge organized by his aide de camp Supervisor Chris Daly who threatened moderate DCCC member Hale Smith, the son of the longstanding District Attorney Arlo Hale Smith in a e-mail that “any members voting for Scott will never receive the endorsement of the Guardian, Tenants union, Sierra Club and Milk Club in subsequent races.” Those are the legs of the chair of the Peskin machine, which the Guardian says does not exist.

The victory of Asian candidate Jane Kim in Daly’s former District 6 which includes the Tenderloin and South of Market  also does not bode well for Peskin, who blocked a 2nd choice recommendation for the popular Kim, who had many moderate supporters on the DCCC, to make sure his super-favorite white lefty Deborah Walker got the solo Democratic Party endorsement. That means Kim, a former Green turned Democrat, comes to the Board owing Peskin nothing but sore feelings for the nasty, losing campaign Walker ran against her.

The Guardian’s denial process twisted so far as to take Mayor Gavin Newsom’s victory for Lt. Governor as a progressive victory suggesting that  San Francisco voters had voted for the popular mayor to get him out of town a year early. It has not been a good political year for the self-annointed voice of liberalism in San Francisco — this summer it put three white libs and no person of color on its June election cover pushing for DCCC candidates, prompting none less than Chris  Daly to crack wise on his blog that it was a Guardian “White-out.”  Randy Shaw of the Beyond Chron website then piled on to discuss the ultra-lib Guardian’s uneasy relationships with non-white candidates.

The question remaining in this election is how far the famously rug-chewing Clint Reilly who does not go quietly into the night will go to deal with his wife’s second electoral defeat –  he previously over-ambitiously ran Janet for Assembly in 2006 in a race where Fiona Ma beat her – by way of challenges, recounts and lawsuits, the arrows in the arsenal of sore losers.

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