Laura Spanjian, a member of the Democratic County Central Committee and candidate for supervisor in District 8, is leaving town for a new job in Houston. That means she's out of the hotly contested race to replace Sup. Bevan Dufty in the Castro.
Spanjian was one of three leading candidates, and her withdrawal means that Rafael Mandelman  and Scott Wiener  are going to be slugging it out for the job. Rebecca Prozan , who also has Alice support, is also in the race, but I don't see her coming in first.
In a press release sent out this morning, Spanjian said she'd taken a job as sustainability director for the city of Houston. “I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to work directly with Mayor Annise Parker and her staff and contribute to a cleaner environment which is, of course, not just a local issue,” Spanjian's statement read.
Spanjian currently works for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and will leave that job in April to move to Houston.
Before we get into the political calculus, let me stop for a moment and congratulate Laura, who's a good person and will do a great job in Houston (although, Jesus -- she's going to have to live in Houston.)
Now then: With Spanjian out of the race, I think Mandelman is on track to come in first. That doesn't mean he's going to win an election decided by ranked-choice voting, but I think he comes in first.
"Clearly it's a win for Rafael," Jim Stearns, a political consultant who was working for Spanjian, told me today. "Laura was going to go after the more nonideological folks in the district, but she was also going to make a push with the progressives. And now Rafael has the solid progressive base in that district to himself."
That base, though, isn't enough alone to get Mandelman elected. It's going to come down to the second and third votes. And Wiener and Prozan start off competing for a lot of the same voters, but in the end, Mandelman is going to have to get enough of the more centrist folks to at least put him second to finish in the money.