In his election night speech, Leno acknowledged the rift he created in the progressive and LGBT communities by challenging Migden: "I know that you upset the applecart when you challenge a sitting senator."
But he vowed to repair that damage, starting by leading the fight against the fall ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage and overturn the recent California Supreme Court decision that legalized it. He told the crowd, "I invite you to join together to defeat the religious right."
A day later we asked Leno about whether his victory represented a new political center in San Francisco and he professed a desire to avoid the old political divisions: "Let's focus on our commonalities rather than differences," he said, "because there is real strength in a big-tent coalition."
But this election was more about divisions than unity, splits whose repercussions will ripple into November in unknown ways. Shortly before the election, Daly publicly blasted "Big Labor" after the San Francisco Labor Council cut a deal with Lennar Corporation, agreeing to support Prop. G in exchange for the promise of more affordable housing and community benefits.
On election night, Newsom couldn't resist gloating over besting Daly, whose affordable housing measure Prop. F lost big. "I couldn't be more proud that the voters of San Francisco supported a principled proposal over the political proposal of a politician," Newsom told us on election night, adding, "Today was a validation of community investment and involvement over political games."
While Daly and some of his progressive allies have long warned that Leno is too close to Newsom to be trusted, one of the first points in Leno's speech was the celebrate the passage of Prop. E, which gives the Board of Supervisors more power to reject the mayor's appointees to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. "As an early supporter I was happy to see that," Leno said.
Susan Leal, the former SFPUC director who was ousted by Newsom earlier this year, said she felt some vindication from the vote on Prop. E, but mostly she was happy that people saw through the false campaign portrayals (which demonized the Board of Supervisors and erroneously said the measure gave it control over the SFPUC.)
"This is one of the few PUCs where people are appointed and doing the mayor's bidding is the only qualification," Leal told us on election night.
Sup. Tom Ammiano, who will be headed to the Assembly next year, agreed: "It shows the beauty contest with the mayor is over and people are willing to hold him accountable."
ANALYZING THE RESULTS
On the day after the election, during a postmortem at the downtown office of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, political consultants Jim Stearns and David Latterman sized up the results.
Latterman called the Prop. E victory "the one surprise in the race." The No on E campaign sought to demonize the Board of Supervisors, a strategy that clearly didn't work. Firing Leal, a lesbian, helped spur the city's two major LGBT groups the Harvey Milk and Alice B. Toklas Democratic clubs to endorse the measure, which could have been a factor when combined with the high LGBT turnout.
"This may have ridden the coattails of the Leno-Migden race," Stearns said.
In that race, Stearns and Latterman agreed that Leno ran a good campaign and Migden didn't, something that was as big a factor in the outcome as anything.
"Migden did too little too late. The numbers speak for themselves.