D5 race displays key SF political dynamics

London Breed, likey the new D5 supervisor, at the end of a long and hopeful election night.
Steven T. Jones

There’s so much to say about the District 5 supervisorial race, whose top five finishers’ parties I attended tonight, gathering interesting perspectives from each candidate. But given the late hour, I’m just going to run a few thoughts and quotes and save most of it for a more in-depth report tomorrow, because there's a fascinating story to be told here.

Christina Olague, John Rizzo, and Julian Davis – respectively the second through fourth place candidates – each presented as more progressive than the likely winner, London Breed, who has an 8-point lead going into the final ballot tally and ranked choice tabulation. They and their allies raised concerns that renters were undermined by Breed’s victory in one of the city’s most progressive districts.

“It was a lie. I’m a renter, I live in a rent-controlled apartment,” she told us just before midnight outside in party at Nickie’s on Haight. “I will do everything to protect rent control. I will work with the Tenants’ Union. I’m here to be everybody’s supervisor.”

She pledged to work productively with all the progressive groups who opposed her, such at SEIU Local 1021, whose members “ take care of my mom at Laguna Honda,” while others are her friends.

“The pettiness of politics is over and it’s time to move forward,” Breed said.

It was a widely sounded theme among jubilant progressives tonight, but D5’s (likely) runner-up Olague sounded a bit of bitterness when we caught up with her a little after 11pm as she was leaving her party at Rassela’s on Fillmore. “The Left and the Right both came at me,” she told us.

She felt unfairly attacked by progressives after being appointed to the D5 seat by Mayor Ed Lee, saying her only bad vote was in favor of the 8 Washington luxury condo project, which Sup. Eric Mar also backed without losing progressive support. “From the beginning, people were hypercritical of me in ways that might not be completely fair.”

Then, this fall, Mayor Lee’s people – chief of staff Steve Kawa, tech point person Tony Winnicker, and billionaire backer Ron Conway – turned on her after a series of votes culminating in the one to reinstate Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, resisting what she labeled “a power play” aimed at progressives.

Yet she believes her key vote in favor of CleanPowerSF, coming after her support for Sup. John Avalos getting new revenue out of the business tax reform Prop. E, was really what turned Conway and the downtown crowd against her and attracted outrageous attacks that she condoned domestic violence and supported Big Oil.

“They don’t want to say it, but it was the whole thing around CleanPowerSF. Do you think PG&E wanted to lose its monopoly?” she said. “It’s not about disloyalty, it’s about power.”

Julian Davis was similarly deflective about his campaign’s fourth place finish, despite having a strong presence on the streets today and lots of energy at his crowded campaign party at Club Waziema, after he weathered a loss of prominent progressive endorsements over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

“It’s been a challenging few weeks, but I’ve kept my head held high in this campaign,” Davis said, decrying the “self-fulfilling prophecy of the local media” that didn’t focus on the progressive endorsers who stayed with him, such as former D5 Sup. Matt Gonzalez and the SF Tenants Union.

Third place finisher John Rizzo, whose party at Murio’s Trophy Room party reflected his less-than-exuberant campaign, was generally positive about the night, although he expressed some concerns about the agenda of the “people putting up hundreds of thousands of dollars” into this race and the D1 contest, where progressive favorite Eric Mar won a strong victory.

I stopped by Breed’s party twice tonight: at the end, and a little before 10pm, when the results were coming over the television proclaiming that voters in Maryland approved same-sex marriage and Colorado voter legalized marijuana – and the room erupted in cheers – and Oregon voters rejected legalizing weed, drawing big boos.

Breed’s was a liberal crowd, a D5 crowd, and a largely African American crowd. Rev. Arnold Townsend, who is on the Elections Commission and local NAACP board, told me as I left Breed’s party the second time, “It’s a good election for my community. The black community was energized by this.”

New school board member Matt Haney, whose party at Brick & Mortar was my final stop of the night, also likes Breed and said her likely victory was another part of “a good night for progressive San Francisco,” which stands for important egalitarian values. “We are the ones about equity and compassion. That’s what this city is about.”


I don't think most D5ers voted against Olague because they saw her as Ed Lee's candidate.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:52 am

The Guardian wasted way too much time hoping for Olague (to the detriment of their actual endorsements). And I still don't know why. Olague was terrible on just about every level I can think of. You never knew where she stood and where she would flit to next. In my dealings with her she has always been petty, bitter, and vindictive--basically incapable of engaging in constituent services. My overall impression is that she's been in politics to hurt people. Sometime we will all have to leave the romance of the nineties behind us.

Look at her now. CleanPowerSF? Really. She should never be allowed close to elected office again. An incumbent whose closing argument is rent-control-under-attack is in a very bad position and has squandered numerous advantages. The Guardian and all progressives should have cut her loose and never looked back. I didn't vote for her yesterday; I never would. And it has nothing to do with billionaires.

Posted by Gust on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:43 am

What about that Thea Selby? The rent control whine is what the professional progressives use to scare the shit out of their base to get them to the polls BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO PROACTIVE AGENDA ANYMORE.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:06 am

Thea ran a great campaign, inspired a lot of people, and brought new energy into the process. That's something to be proud of and it is a public service. I appreciate it.

The lack of a proactive agenda is a big problem. After a while the same old scares don't work so well. Rent control is a San Francisco institution. Every time the sky doesn't fall people become a little more wary.

Posted by Gust on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:31 am

Breed and Olague were the class acts, and the voters clearly saw that

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

Let's create one and rebuild this movement: http://www.sfbg.com/2012/11/06/practice-politics

Posted by steven on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:31 am

Most SF'ers are moderate centrists, not raving leftists. Just look at D5.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

Guest, I think it's a little much to declare that Breed's victory means that D5 is "moderate centrist."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

I agree - Olague was a very unappealing candidate. I knew nothing of her when I went to an early candidates’ forum. She came off in her opening comments as a bit of a thug. But I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. But in listening to her positions, particularly in regards to the public school system and positions that effect raising a family in the city, I found her to be significantly uninformed. I gave her a solid "no" in my notes and nothing she did later in the campaign convinced me to change that assessment.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

1. Her Mirkarimi vote, and

2. The Davis scandal

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

for an immigrant who married here and decided to stay in the city with 2 kids and wife, I applaud that the board is finally moving to the right. I own a TIC and want it converted to Condo now! I am sorry that many of here would rather rent than own

Posted by Guest hispanico renteria on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:05 am

Their short-sighted backing of Olague, complete with Gabs tearful testimony at the Mirkarimi hearing, certainly made them no friends.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

Little reason for Breed to talk to them.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

No disrespect meant but rather was thinking of Breed when I wrote that.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

While Booing is always a tactical mistake, (try it in a federal court proceeding) this article is nevertheless an insipid, apologist "essay" on what's wrong with "straight" men, who claim to be "progressive." Get over it. We've moved on. You don't have to give up your progressive ideals to be a libertarian. That's where the brash, pushy, techno crowd is going. And no, they are not the 1%, but they are all 1% wannabes, young men and women alike.

Posted by SFreptile on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

I bet Olague wishes she'd recused herself now.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

8 Washington and Run Ed Run were only 2 of the reasons for my not endorsing Olague. There was also the Planning Commission's decision to allow the Academy of Art to gobble up rent-controlled buildings for student housing where she said she was "fatigued." I did not think we needed a supervisor who could be "fatigued" into giving in. I tried to post the link to the article in the Examiner, but SFBG would not accept my comment with that link, but you could easily google it!

Posted by GrannyGear on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 9:39 am

Now one cannot even complete the "captcha" to prove that link was not spam without signing up for some other app. called Mollom. Why, SFBG? I thought "captcha" was its own entity!!

Posted by GrannyGear on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 9:42 am

So I signed up for the stupid Mollom "captcha" thingie and still don't understand how it works, still cannot complete the "captcha." WTF SFBG?

Posted by GrannyGear on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 9:51 am


(Okay, I'm being asked to fill in the Captcha, just as before)

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 10:07 am