D5 race displays key SF political dynamics

London Breed, likey the new D5 supervisor, at the end of a long and hopeful election night.
Steven T. Jones

There’s so much to say about the District 5 supervisorial race, whose top five finishers’ parties I attended tonight, gathering interesting perspectives from each candidate. But given the late hour, I’m just going to run a few thoughts and quotes and save most of it for a more in-depth report tomorrow, because there's a fascinating story to be told here.

Christina Olague, John Rizzo, and Julian Davis – respectively the second through fourth place candidates – each presented as more progressive than the likely winner, London Breed, who has an 8-point lead going into the final ballot tally and ranked choice tabulation. They and their allies raised concerns that renters were undermined by Breed’s victory in one of the city’s most progressive districts.

“It was a lie. I’m a renter, I live in a rent-controlled apartment,” she told us just before midnight outside in party at Nickie’s on Haight. “I will do everything to protect rent control. I will work with the Tenants’ Union. I’m here to be everybody’s supervisor.”

She pledged to work productively with all the progressive groups who opposed her, such at SEIU Local 1021, whose members “ take care of my mom at Laguna Honda,” while others are her friends.

“The pettiness of politics is over and it’s time to move forward,” Breed said.

It was a widely sounded theme among jubilant progressives tonight, but D5’s (likely) runner-up Olague sounded a bit of bitterness when we caught up with her a little after 11pm as she was leaving her party at Rassela’s on Fillmore. “The Left and the Right both came at me,” she told us.

She felt unfairly attacked by progressives after being appointed to the D5 seat by Mayor Ed Lee, saying her only bad vote was in favor of the 8 Washington luxury condo project, which Sup. Eric Mar also backed without losing progressive support. “From the beginning, people were hypercritical of me in ways that might not be completely fair.”

Then, this fall, Mayor Lee’s people – chief of staff Steve Kawa, tech point person Tony Winnicker, and billionaire backer Ron Conway – turned on her after a series of votes culminating in the one to reinstate Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, resisting what she labeled “a power play” aimed at progressives.

Yet she believes her key vote in favor of CleanPowerSF, coming after her support for Sup. John Avalos getting new revenue out of the business tax reform Prop. E, was really what turned Conway and the downtown crowd against her and attracted outrageous attacks that she condoned domestic violence and supported Big Oil.

“They don’t want to say it, but it was the whole thing around CleanPowerSF. Do you think PG&E wanted to lose its monopoly?” she said. “It’s not about disloyalty, it’s about power.”

Julian Davis was similarly deflective about his campaign’s fourth place finish, despite having a strong presence on the streets today and lots of energy at his crowded campaign party at Club Waziema, after he weathered a loss of prominent progressive endorsements over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

“It’s been a challenging few weeks, but I’ve kept my head held high in this campaign,” Davis said, decrying the “self-fulfilling prophecy of the local media” that didn’t focus on the progressive endorsers who stayed with him, such as former D5 Sup. Matt Gonzalez and the SF Tenants Union.

Third place finisher John Rizzo, whose party at Murio’s Trophy Room party reflected his less-than-exuberant campaign, was generally positive about the night, although he expressed some concerns about the agenda of the “people putting up hundreds of thousands of dollars” into this race and the D1 contest, where progressive favorite Eric Mar won a strong victory.

I stopped by Breed’s party twice tonight: at the end, and a little before 10pm, when the results were coming over the television proclaiming that voters in Maryland approved same-sex marriage and Colorado voter legalized marijuana – and the room erupted in cheers – and Oregon voters rejected legalizing weed, drawing big boos.

Breed’s was a liberal crowd, a D5 crowd, and a largely African American crowd. Rev. Arnold Townsend, who is on the Elections Commission and local NAACP board, told me as I left Breed’s party the second time, “It’s a good election for my community. The black community was energized by this.”

New school board member Matt Haney, whose party at Brick & Mortar was my final stop of the night, also likes Breed and said her likely victory was another part of “a good night for progressive San Francisco,” which stands for important egalitarian values. “We are the ones about equity and compassion. That’s what this city is about.”


Maybe if the progressives hadn't treated Olague like a yo-yo (swinging against her for her 8 Washington vote then swinging towards her like sheep for her Mirkarimi vote) and actually respected her background in the Mission Anti-Displacement movement, this never wouldn't have happened...but the progressive gang operates via Omerta and look where it got them...serves them right....and now they are smearing a black woman who grew up in public housing in the district she wants to serve...if anyone wants to know why progressives are dying in SF, look beyond demographic shifts and take a look at the bankrupt moral hypocrisy of progressive politics in D5....heckuvajob!

Posted by HankEssay on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 7:23 am

still not getting how just because Ms. Breed grew up in the projects she's qualified to be a political leader when she clearly is lacking in political management and comprehensive communication skills, as well as being a noted rubber stamper. smh. Good luck. She's got the Kamala Harris playbook down perfectly. Maybe she'll bring "Safe Haven" to district 5, while she pushes, "Sit & Lie".

Sheep are, what sheep do.

Posted by GuestTitus Moreland on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:25 am

Lacking in "political management" and "comprehensive communication skills"?

Um, she just won D5 in the face of a progressive movement arrayed against her and whose only point of agreement was to defeat her.

Seem her political management and communication skills did just fine, yo.

Posted by HankEssay on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

Mr. Essay, all the window dressing in the world can't hide her true colors once she goes to work for the district. Like I said, if potty-mouthed loudness, easily bought with no specifics in your leader is what you want have at it. The "progressive" move, in the face of years of Frisco cronyism, was Olague's, who stood up for her own principles against Mayor Lee and others. It's obvious district 5 isn't striving to be "progressive" anymore nor think for itself.

People were against Ms. Breed because she's an inept moderate. It's funny how many of you on this site and other sites, admitted that Ms. Breed was a questionable candidate, and was a Willie B. placed tool, and now she's a godsend. Ya'll are too much. I bet she bought some votes.

Posted by Guest Titus on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 8:47 am

Ideally the Progressives will find new leaders and new ideas. Their voice has always been important to SF.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:30 am

Progressive positions on issues, and leaders to get them heard and acted upon, are essential. Machine politics in the name of progressivism is not.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:38 am

No question about that. Progressives have always been important in SF (and the country). But the gang-like macho mentality of the progressives in SF have been their own undoing. Just look at what they did to Olague for more or less ONE DAMN VOTE on 8 Washington....I'm just glad that London Breed broke the progressive stranglehold on D5...maybe it will lead to soul searching and clean up efforts....One can hope...

Posted by HankEssay on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

The Guardian keeps trying to draw a link between Ron Conway and PG&E and the other anti-Olague flier, but I'd like to see some proof. So far, the only direct link between him and his wife with the anti-Olague campaign I've seen is the anti-DV angle. More solid reportage, please, and less unsubstantiated rumors, please.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 7:37 am

Over six thousand "exhausted votes" who coudn't stomach putting Breed or Olague in their top three picks, and Julian wasn't that far behind the others (except Breed) in the first round.

How would it have gone if "prominent progressives" hadn't made what they thought was a calculated decision to withdraw their support for Davis?

As for the effect of IRV on progressives, the result in D5 offers some support for marcos' critique; IRV, as currently implemented seemed to have hurt progressives in this case. If there had been a run-off election between Olague and Breed, would the ultimate result not have proved more palatable?

The problem with "non-partisan" races is that too many candidates can dilute the votes of a constituency which nonetheless at its heart has a clear philosophical alignment.

Downtown interests will always tend to have more money and a focused strategy for managing the surface differences to achieve what they want.

I think the only answer is modifying IRV to allow for as many ranked choices as there are candidates --minus one, of course.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 7:45 am

I think you give "movement" leaders too much credit in guiding how voters mark their ballots. Davis's and Olague's actions, and Breed's personal narrative, were what gave us the result we see today.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:44 am

The word is clusterfuck.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:57 am

...democracy. The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:31 am

refer to progressives in such disparaging tones; such as your putting "movement" in quotes.

I don't think anything you write is on the level and in the rare cases where you've espoused some progressive viewpoint, you've done so only as camoflage for your true aim.

I highly doubt you are even a woman.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:02 am

can't be a moderate or non-progressive- weird Lilli Logic.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:24 am

...my gender should be irrelevant. This is San Francisco, where a man called Irving can reinvent ximself as Hortencia if xe wishes. What's your gender identity, if you don't mind my asking?

I think I made myself clear. The "progressive movement," in my opinion, ends up being unprogressive a lot of the time because, instead of focusing on issues, it focuses on personalities, alliances, and tit-for-tattery in the most paranoid, inflexible manner. A most telling example, for me, was the recent Guardian feminist forum, where the panelists weren't asked about Mirkarimi because their answers would put them on the spot with the groups they represented. They weren't individuals with opinions; they were mouthpieces for interest groups, groups that in many cases were waiting to see how the matter shook out before issuing their groupthink position papers.

Also telling is your refusal to reply to my actual points and instead trying to impeach my credibility (as an anonymous commenter!) in a personal way. I don't think I've ever done that with you on any of our exchanges, since I have no idea who you are and wouldn't dare to speculate.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:30 am

So basically you want to keep tinkering with RCV until it finally produces the results that you want? The irony of RCV is that it was the brainchild of the progressive machine to get more progressives into office- especially City wide office and it has totally blown up in the progressive machine's face. I love it.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:36 am

First of all, there *is* *no* "progressive machine" as you suggest so glibly *and* IRV was conceived for yielding a result more representative of the populace. Period, full stop.

That goal, not coincidentally, is exactly the point of my suggestion that IRV be expanded so that each voter can make their preference among every one of the candidates known.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

That you don't start asking for such an expansion until you favored candidates don't win. Sour grapes I think.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

When the city has equipment that allows more rankings, it must use that capcity. End of story.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 6:48 am

Point of view? Yes, that too, but Preferential Order Voting seems to be a superb moniker for the voting system. We need those new machines pronto.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 09, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

...the Bay Guardian recommended only two rankings. If voters are going to listen to those making endorsements, those making endorsements should advise using all their rankings if they really want a compromise choice to defeat a "last choice."

The Chronicle is even worse, as is no surprise. They typically endorse only one in their denial of the reality of RCV.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 6:47 am

Just look at the nottom of those mailers then go to sfethics.org and look it up.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:35 am

Most people rely on newspapers and news sites to do the reporting. Why isn't any paper doing that?

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Olague signed her suicide note to Ross and Davis couldn't keep his hands to himself. Rizzo came across as not really caring and that only left Breed.

Breed played a cool hand while all around her did not. End of.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:49 am

The gang that can't shoot straight displays their marksmanship skills at the circular firing squad.

Will there be any accountability? Hell no, that is offensive and disrespectful.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:51 am

Steve, you and the progressives did nothing but play with yourselves this election cycle. You kicked Julian Davis in the balls and fueled the attacks and whispering campaign the Olague folks pushed, you based your non endorsement on AN SF WEEKLY ARTICLE, and overall you and your progressive buddies just ran around in circles like chickens with their heads cut off.

Face it. you blew your credibility backing a wife beating Sheriff and overall jackass no one likes, this is the result. PWNED in District five, jerk! Hope this is the beginning of the end of you asshat progressives in this town and hope Ron Conway kicks you guys in the balls over and over and over again. LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 8:51 am

And this would be Greg Dewar...

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:09 am

Olague didn't need to be lambasted for her 8 Washington vote. Eric Mar didn't vote for it, yet he wasn't attacked like Olague was. The charges against Davis didn't merit the Guardian saying he must withdraw—I mean, can you say trial without jury? I thought that was a bit reactionary, which is what I was opposed to in the Ross Mirkarimi case: knee-jerk reactivism...Oh, well. Measured responses are always better as well as a recognition that people aren't "perfect"—people should be allowed for some imperfections and room to improve, and your candidate might not *always* vote the way you want. Can we embrace them anyway? Trust, especially with a solid progressive background as in Olague's case, that they will be progressive as a whole? The larger view is always better than putting on blinders.

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 9:47 am

I wonder if Jane Kim is worried that her Mirkarimi vote might hinder her re-election chances in a couple years. That vote seems to have hurt Olague.

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:11 am

It appears there are intelligent residents in D5 that could give a rat's ass in who the SFBG thinks they should vote for!

"anyone but Olague" campaign was brilliant, that is the voters who spoke and they are pissed that our sheriff is a domestic violence abuser!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:12 am

I think the only impact the Mirkarimi vote had on the outcome was that it was the last straw that caused the mayor's people to turn on Olague. None of the other candidates made that an issue, support for him was always strongest in D5, and winner London Breed told us she also thought the official misconduct proceedings against him were unfair and over-the-top. It's pretty thin spin by self-interested players to try to make this about domestic violence.

Posted by steven on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:25 am

...whether Olague's vote on Mirkarimi affected their choice?

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:53 am

now you are coming up with speculation that even the skewed numbers it produced for D5 didn't adequately represent the fact that nobody lost votes by supporting Ross' reinstatement.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

Actually it did affect my vote. I'm pro-Mirkarimi and anti-Olague. It felt like a last-ditch attempt to make her appear to be something other than another part of the Brown/Pak Machine leashed to the mayor. A cynical attempt that made me even less likely to vote for her than before.

Just like the smear campaign launched at Davis when he started to get numerous endorsements. This city has shown that simply accusing someone of domestic violence or groping is enough to have them vilified and the people behind the mayor have been all too willing to use it whenever their candidate doesn't win.

Davis remained my top pick with the rest filled out with, essentially, anyone but Breed, Olague, and that horrible PTA VP phony Selby.

Posted by Belgand on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

To appoint Olague, and then abandon her for Breed in the election. Folks might remember they pulled the same sort of maneuver on David Chiu when they supported Lee in the Mayoral election.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

Just a fantastic, legendary, amazing fail for Progressive SF/Bay Guardian. You just lost District 5....

Think about that for a hot second. It's literally like a Republican Senator losing in Provo, Utah. Something spectacular must take place in order for this shift to occur. Something no amount of fundraising or shady contributions can make happen. And that spectacular event was ROSS MIRKARIMI.

Before you blame Conway, Realtors, PG&E, Rose Pak... *blame yourselves*. Seriously - and Lilli and Greg and Steven and the rest I'm talking about you - blame yourselves. You anchored yourselves and your entire movement to a total asshat whose name is synnymous with domestic abuse. Amazing, amazing fail.

Posted by Scram on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:12 am

Just your calling Ross an "asshat" is all we need to know about you. Not gonna give your interpretations much weight. Besides, London breed has said that she is for protecting rent control...let's see how she does. Four years goes by pretty fast, and D5 residents can always choose to be actively engaged and put the pressure on where they see fit.

But truly, your name-calling is the problem. Can you, just for a minute, stop demonizing and become more of a human being yourself? You miss so much...

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:33 am

Name calling aside, it is a serious political loss for progressives. The board has gone from progressive majority to leaning moderate to moderate majority.

On a side note, how poorly was David Lee's campaign run? Something like $800K spent to unseat what was considered the weakest supervisor, and they got pretty crushed. That whole political team should be fired.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:12 am

I'm not so sure London Breed will be *that* "moderate". I might be wrong, I know, but I'm not convinced we now have a "Moderate" majority at the BOS....If she aligns herself with a non-progressive stance, I don't think she'll last. I think the most progressive of the Prog candidates had too much perceived baggage/or lackluster-ness in the case of Rizzo to be able to gel. With so many candidates splitting the vote, maybe it was the African-American vote/bock that surged ahead...If "progressive" means we care about human values over money, which is how I view progressivism, then hopefully that stance will prevail in D5 even with a London Breed. Otherwise, in my view, the people need to come together and get more active to *ensure* these values are kept alive.

Re David Lee: money isn't everything, and that's a good thing, and a good sign.

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:32 am

In D1, corporate power overplayed its hand.

In D5, progressive power was incoherent while corporate power a bit more subdued than in D1.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:46 am

rationalizing their hatred and contempt for all things progressive have nothing worthy of consideration to offer in the way of commentary here.

Pot calling kettle black? That, and beyond.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

Nice work there, lilli. Seriously, I appreciate you and your friends steadfast support of Ross and all it has created. You have done more for Moderate SF than any donation or volunteering drive ever could. Awesome, thanks sweetheart.

Posted by Scram on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

with her defeat is absurd. It's the reason The Guardian tacitly endorsed her without actually endorsing her, it's the reason progressives like lilli and Marcos sang her praises the past month after repeatedly trashing her and it's the reason she lost to someone The Guardian has spent over a year attempting to destroy and portray as some closet conservative.

Republicans are going to have to do some hard thinking after their drubbing - progressives might want to start doing the same.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

What about the foul-mouth trolls who puff themselves up by rationalizing their hatred for all things non-progressive? Are they too not worthy of consideration to offer commentary here?

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

of a "progressive" basically telling everyone that is not a progressive to shut up and not comment. Not very inclusive.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

...is counterrevolutionary. Didn't you know that?

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

But I agree. Christine Olague felt she needed to show her true progressive credentials and thus, as the first vote, sided with keeping Mirkarimi in office. That apparently blew up in her face.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:41 am

Not surprising that Olague lost, just like Juanita Owens lost in 2000 after being appointed by Mayor Brown. Why would anyone think D5 voters would endorse Mayor Lee's candidate? The vote on Mirkarimi and all the rest of it was nothing but meaningless poltical static.

And of course Breed will be just another lockstep "progressive" vote on the board, as would any of the other candidates who had no substantive policy differences among them.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:29 am

I think there was a bit of appointment-weariness and ed lee weariness leading to mistrust.

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:35 am

To what was Juanita Owens appointed, the white glove brigade? Didn't she win her SFUSD seat on her own?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:52 am