The absolutely true story of how a complete unknown rocketed from political obscurity, electrified the city, tackled real problems, and beat Ed Lee in 2015.
Candidate X has been an enigma from the beginning, a vessel of progressive hopes for finally winning the Mayor's Office. And at tonight's triumphant election night party, we learned that we're all Candidate X.
As exciting as the political victory was the hope that the masked Candidate X would reveal her or his identity after winning the race, which the current 15-point margin all but assures. That made for a big moment when Candidate X came onstage in Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to address the large crowd.
"This election was a fight for the soul of San Francisco and beyond. It was a referendum on the belief that we should leave this great city and others like it to the mercies of market forces, and the people have now said they want to be in control. Politicians often claim their victories are really victories for the people, but tonight, that's finally true," Candidate X said.
At that moment, dozens of nearly identical Candidate Xs — with the ubiquitous mask, cape, and costume, that image that has so captivated the country over these last 22 months — streamed out from backstage and filled the stage.
"1, 2, 3," they all said in unison, all of them pulling off their masks at the same moment, revealing themselves to be a broad cross-section of city residents: young and old, men and women, attractive and plain, black and white and every shade in between.
"You see," said the Candidate X who had originally come to the microphone, who appeared to be an Asian woman around 40 years old. "From the very beginning of this campaign, there's never been a single Candidate X. We've all worn the mask at different times, we've all stood on the stump to proclaim the progressive values that this election was about, and we've all run this race."
"Some of us have been doing this for a long time," said a costume-clad Tom Ammiano, the longtime local legislator who last ran for mayor in 1999, "and we knew this moment needed to be about more than just one leader. So we created a vehicle that we could all ride into Room 200."
Ammiano told the Guardian that he had been part of the large team that conceived of Candidate X during a series of secret meetings in late 2013. He said the campaign hopes and believes that its entire X Factor Leadership Team will be allowed to legally govern the city, but that just in case the Lee team challenges the unconventional arrangement in court, Ammiano last year legally changed his name to Candidate X and that he will serve as the figurehead for that governing structure if necessary.
"To turn this city around and restore it as an example for the world is a job for all of us, not any one person or faction," said another Candidate X, who appeared to be African American woman in her early 20s. "We face challenges ranging from unaffordable rents here to global warming and loss of biodiversity everywhere. And it's going to take all of us, working and standing together, to solve these problems and create a just and inclusive society, today and for future generations."
"Todos somos Candidate X," declared an elderly Latino Candidate X. "We are all Candidate X."
*All new items written by Steven T. Jones, Rebecca Bowe, and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez