The D6 Ranked Choice debacle


I must admit, I was pretty astonished when I read that Jane Kim had endorsed two other candidates in District 6, and Debra Walker wasn't among them.

I understand that there's bad blood here -- Walker's supporters are pissed that Kim moved into the district and entered a race that Walker had been working on for years. She effectively challenged another progressive with whom she has no substantive policy disagreements, and it looked a lot like personal ambition trumping progressive strategy. And the Walker team managed to keep Kim off the Democratic County Central Committee slate.

But please, folks: The real issue here is Theresa Sparks -- and the possibility that we'll lose D6 to a downtown candidate. And there are only two people in the race capable of beating Sparks, and they're Walker and Kim. I've been wrong before, but I don't think I'm wrong here -- this is a three-person race at this point. And two of those people are qualified progressives.

It took me a while to reach Jane Kim, but I finally talked to her today, and I had one basic question: Does she really think her candidates would be better supervisors than Debra Walker? Well, she said her endorsement strategy was only to support people who were also doing ranked-choice endorsements, and Walker had declined to do that. (Correct: I called Walker, who told me she's not endorsing anyone for the second and third slots).

But come on: If you want to be a progressive leader, you have to be responsible not just to yourself but to the movement -- and the only way we're going to save D6 is if Walker or Kim wins the election. And the best way to help Theresa Sparks is for Kim to snub Walker and urge her supporters to vote for someone who isn't likely to win.

I'm one of the people who has publicly questioned whether Kim should have entered this race, and I've argued -- to Kim, and to anyone else willing to listen -- that while she had every right to run for supervisor, and is by any account a qualified progessive candidate, she risked splitting progressive resources and energy and, purely from the perspective of a larger progressive movement, running against Walker might not have been the smartest strategy. Kim's response: Well, that's why we have ranked-choice voting, so nobody becomes the spoiler.

Again: True. And that's why when you use ranked-choice voting, you don't play the spoiler.

Kim told me that if Walker would also do ranked-choice, she'd reconsider her endorsements. (That's tough, too -- what, is she going to un-endorse someone?) And honestly, it's better for Walker to do no endorsements than to endorse two candidates and leave Kim off. But at this point, with big money pouring into the district for Sparks, everyone's got to take the high road and work on the real issue.