Mandate watch

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The question of the day, of course, is What’s the Number? What percentage of the votes does Gavin Newsom get, and what does that mean?

The last time a mayor of San Francisco had such weak opposition was in 1983, when Dianne Feinstein ran all-but unopposed. It was a bleak time in the city, with the mayor openly selling the city to developers and the left lacking a contender who could take her on. Feinstein had just crushed a batty recall effort by a finger group of leftist gun nuts called the White Panther Party.; the White Panthers were mad that Feinstein had singed a bill controlling handguns in the city. The recall lost overwhelmingly, and left Feinstein appearing unbeatable.

Newsom isn’t in quite the same position; there are actually some candidates who have a bit of traction. The progressives are way better organized than we were in 1983 – and this race has a lot more, well, character.

I think Steve Jones is pretty much on point; I’ll go a step further. Let’s assume that 100,000 people vote; it may be a bit more, but I think 120,000 is tops. Say Quintin Mecke, the progressive front-runner, gets 15,000 votes, or 15 percent – not an unreasonable guess. He’s been working hard, had Chris Daly’s endorsement, and has a lot of boots on the street. I say Chicken John gets 10 percent anyway; he’s got a solid base in the artist/counterculture/weirdo community, and that’s a significant number of people. Between them, Ahimsa Sumchai and Josh Wolf get maybe 7,000 votes. Harold Hoogasian is the only Republican in the race, and has great name recognition because of his flower business; besides, the people who think Newsom is too liberal will vote for Hoogasian. That’s got to be worth 3,000 votes. So that’s already 35 percent – and there are quite a few other candidates who will pick up a few hundred votes here and there. By the time the counting is finished, Newsom may be stuck around 60 percent – hardly a stunning victory.