From the very outset, it was abundantly clear that the race for San Francisco's District Five supervisor was going to be largely defined by the candidates' relationship with City Hall.
Late last year, when Ross Mirkarimi vacated his position as the official representative of San Francisco's most progressive district to become the city's sheriff, it was widely assumed that the dynamics of the race would depend on whom Mayor Ed Lee selected to fill Mirkarimi's chair.
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Despite his landslide citywide victory last November, the moderate Lee got clobbered in District Five by his lefty opponent, Supervisor John Avalos. Lee's appointment to fill the District Five seat, therefore, had to walk the fine line of progressive enough to win reelection but moderate enough to still support the mayor's agenda.
The mayor selected former Planning Commissioner Christina Olague, who had a long history within the city's progressive movement but still supported the mayor's office on key issues.
And thus, the shape of this November's race seemed fairly set: Olague would talk about her independence from the mayor's office while raking in campaign cash with the help of local mayoral bugaboos like Willie Brown and Rose Pak.
Now it looks like the race for District Five supervisor might hold the world record for most rescinded endorsements in a single contest.
It all started when Mirkarimi was accused of domestic violence. Olague was first implicated in protecting the mayor during a brief perjury scandal and later angered City Hall by voting to keep Mirkarimi in office. Olague's primary opponent said a whole bunch of swears about a former mayor, causing California's distinguished senator to get personally involved. The progressive movement's top candidate became embroiled in a sex scandal. And, as a billionaire tech mogul and a Chinatown power broker have gotten involved in the race, two candidates have teamed up to create a ticket opposing the corrupting influence of outside money.
All of this is happening in a race that, in a recent poll, showed that about half of District Five residents still haven't made up their mind about who to vote for.
With all this turmoil, only one thing is for sure: this is still D5, so all the candidates really love bike lanes. A lot.
Check out this slideshow showing all the candidates in the running:
As a co-chair of the Run Ed Run campaign, <a href="http://www.christinaolague.com/">Christina Olague</a> was one the first major progressive voices in San Francisco to rally behind Ed Lee's reneging on his promise not to seek a full term after being appointed as interim mayor by the Board of Supervisors. She has a long history in local progressive politics, serving as secretary of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, co-chairing a 2003 campaign to raise the city's minimum wage and sitting on the California Green Party's coordinating committee. As supervisor, Olague had the explicit support of the Mayor's office and backed City Hall on issues such as the controversial 8 Washington condo development, the type of thing she initially opposed <a href="http://www.sfweekly.com/2012-08-29/news/8-washington-christine-olague-board-of-supervisors-district-5-race-julian-davis-rose-pak-willie-brown-ed-lee/">while a Planning Commissioner</a>. She also <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/09/olague-says-she-can-t-recall-details-around-ed-lee-perjury-claims">protected Lee</a> when Building Inspection Commissioner Deborah Walker claimed that Olague her told her that she has spoken with the Mayor regarding Mirkarimi's Ethics Commission hearing--contradicting the mayor's sworn testimony before the Ethics Commission. However, it was ultimately Olague's vote to keep Mirkarimi in office (a politically savvy move considering that pro-Mirkarimi signs were just as numerous in the district as ones supporting candidates actually on the ballot) that angered many in City Hall. While Lee hasn't technically <a href="http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/10/mayor-ed-lee-sticks-supervisor-olague-despite-mirkarimi-vote">withdrawn his endorsement</a> of Olague, billionaire angel investor and <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/29/us-sanfrancisco-conway-idUSBRE89S05F20121029">newfound San Francisco power player</a> Ron Conway and his wife have dumped nearly $80,000 into an anti-Olague group called San Francisco Women for Responsibility and a Responsible Supervisor.
<a href="http://www.theaselby.org/">Thea Selby</a> is a Lower Haight business owner who has brought in an<a href="http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/10/26/realtors-and-tech-spending-big-flip-board-supervisors"> impressive fundraising haul</a> for a candidate that didn't start out with a ton of citywide name recognition. She has racked up endorsements from both the Examiner and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. While the San Francisco Chronicle gave its official nod to London Breed, the paper called Selby "an appealing voice for small business," and said that she "has a future in city politics." In a post on her campaign website, Selby said that, unlike Olauge, she would have voted to sustain the charges against Mirkarimi because she was "saddened to see the problems of domestic violence repeatedly trivialized."
<a href="http://www.juliandavis.org/">Julian Davis</a> entered the race as the progressive standard-bearer. He served as the board president for the Booker T. Washington Community Service Center and worked in the district office of then-Assemblymen Mark Leno. He had lined up endorsements from the Bay Guardian and the Examiner as well as from progressives such as Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos. For the faction of left-leaning San Franciscans uncomfortable with Olague's close ties with Lee, Davis seemed the logical choice. But then came a <a href="http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/10/julian_davis.php">story published in SF Weekly</a> that Davis had groped a female staffer during the 2006 re-election campaign of then-Supervisor Chris Daly. When the alleged victim began talking about the incident to the press, Davis had his lawyer threaten her with legal action. The timing of these allegations, which have since been reinforced by <a href="http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/10/julian_davis_faces_another_acc.php">another woman's account</a> of Davis becoming sexually aggressive in the back seat of a cab, could not have been worse for the candidate. Many of the progressives that had supported him, particularly elected officials like Avalos and Campos, were already on the defensive on women's issues from the whole Mirkarimi circus and were quick to withdraw their endorsements. The Guardian even went as far as urging him to drop out of the race. Even so, not all of Davis's support has vanished. Progressive icon and former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, former San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hllinan and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club all continue to back his candidacy (although that last one is a <a href="http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/10/24/milk-clubs-strange-endorsement-vote">bit complicated</a>). Interestingly, Davis has said he was initially approached by Lee's backers to during the beginning stages of last year's mayoral campaign to throw his support behind Run Ed Run in exchange for the District Five appointment, but he ultimately turned the offer down.
Like Selby, John Rizzo has also secured the endorsement of both the Examiner and the Bay Guardian as well as the SF League of Conservation Voters, the local teacher's union and the San Francisco Green Party. He was the former chair of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Sierra Club and is the president of the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees. That last one is a little problematic because, given City College of San Francisco's current dire state--<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/city-college-of-san-francisco_n_1879370.html">possible bankruptcy, loss of accreditation and even closure</a>--someone running on their track record of managing that particular institution could be problematic. Uptown Almanac called it "<a href="http://uptownalmanac.com/2012/10/sad-state-san-francisco-politics">a bit of an albatross</a>," but it hasn't stopped Rizzo from raising a significant amount of campaign cash.
Andrew "Ellard" Resignato
<a href="http://www.resignatod5.com/">Andrew Resignato</a> comes from the world of public health, serving as the Director of the San Francisco Immunization Coalition where he pushed for the creation of the California Immunization Registry and started the San Francisco Pertussis Task Force. He is also a musician, playing guitar with the band <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thrillouette/136973413002333">Thrillouette</a>. After being excluded from a debate hosted by University of San Francisco for having raised an insufficient amount of money, Resignato joined with fellow candidate Hope Johnson, who was also barred from the event, in creating the <a href="http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/5164/d5-candidates-johnson-resignato-announce-peoples-bill-of-rights/">The People's Ticket</a>, painting themselves as political outsiders untainted by big donations from downtown business interests. The People's Ticket urges Resignato's supporters to vote for Johnson as their number two and Johson's backers to do the same for Resignato.
<a href="http://hopejohnson.nationbuilder.com/">Hope Johnson</a> is running for Supervisor as the former chair of the Ethic Commission's Sunshine Task Force and it shows. Her primary issue is pushing for open government and increased transparency. She has joined with fellow candidate Andrew Resignato to form The People's Ticket in protest politics driven by fundraising.
<a href="http://www.danieleverett4supervisor.org/">Daniel Everett</a> works as a defense attorney for the indigent and is the host of the radio and television show Folk Law. During a debate hosted by the Wigg Party this summer, Everett won points for his enthusiasm but, like Resignato and Johnson, was barred from the USF debate for lackluster fundraising totals.
Before Christina Olague was selected to fill Mirkarimi's seat, one other name was rumored to be in contention: London Breed. Breed is a District Five native who runs the African American Art & Culture Complex, a long-standing neighborhood institution, and has secured the <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/editorials/article/London-Breed-top-pick-for-District-5-3926799.php">sole endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle</a>. Breed had been criticized for being too chummy with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. But all that changed when she gave an interview with Fog City Journal saying, "You think I give a f*ck about a Willie Brown at the end of the day when it comes to my community and the sh*t that people like Rose Pak and Willie Brown continue to do and try to control things?" This got her in a trouble with some of Brown's allies, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (who has withdrawn her endorsement of Breed). However, with the implosion of the Davis campaign, it seems like much of the anybody-but-Olague vote has coalesced around Breed.