London Breed Wins the D5 Race After 5 IRV Rounds

by E. "Doc" Smith on November 7, 2012

As I wrote in my previous column, London Breed was no stranger to campaigning, either as an Obama delegate back in 2008, or for the re-elected President in 2010. Last night, Breed jumped out of the gate with 4,232 votes of the initial 13,712 votes counted, with the incumbent Supervisor Christina Olague in 2nd place, and John Rizzo in 3rd. For Breed to maintain her lead, she would need to gather an additional 2,179 votes to win. Olague, with 2,651 votes, or Rizzo with 2,027 votes could possibly “leap-frog” Breed to win, however everything would come down to the remaining 2nd and 3rd place votes of the other candidates, (Julian Davis, Thea Selby, Daniel Everett, Andrew Resignato and Hope Johnson), after they were eliminated in the subsequent ranked choice voting rounds.

By 10:00 pm, Breed had 6,873 of 23,962 votes counted, Olague with 4,770 and Rizzo had 3,833. Davis had closed the gap on Rizzo with 3,569 and Selby with 3,148. Olague was seemingly in the perfect place for IRV, (Instant Runoff Voting), but only if Breed didn’t scoop up the rest of those candidates about to be eliminated. That scenario previously seemed unlikely to the pundits, as Breed and Olague did not appear to share much of the same base. The pundits were wrong. Breed held her own, and collected enough of those votes to win.

When the 10:30 pm totals came in, Breed was ahead by 2,130 votes, with 7,201 votes over Olague’s 5,071. Olague’s best chance to close the gap and recoup those votes would have to come during the IRV elimination rounds.

As we saw in the 2010 District 10 and District 2 races, ranked choice voting determined the outcome, as Malia Cohen came from behind, and survived Lynette Sweet, Marlene Tran and ultimately Tony Kelly to win. Janet Reilly also was an early leader before IRV kicked in, yet Mark Farrell came from behind to beat her. The same thing happened in the Sheriff’s race, when the votes of both Cunnie and Miyamoto went to Mirkarimi.

2012 however is another story entirely, as Breed never relinquished her lead. In the first unofficial rounds, Everett, Resignato and Johnson were instantly eliminated, and their votes were split, with Breed getting nearly 400 votes, Selby with 343 and the others getting under 300 each. When Selby was eliminated in round 2, both Breed and Rizzo got the lion’s share of her votes with over 900 each, and Davis and Olague getting only 500 or so more. Davis was eliminated next in round 3, and the remaining 3 candidates got over 1000 votes apiece, with Rizzo and Olague getting around 200 extra votes.

With Rizzo’s 4th round elimination in 3rd place, Breed got 1,345 votes and Olague got just a bit more, 1,521, but not enough to overtake Breed, and with 11,019 votes to Olague’s 8,591, Breed obtained 56.19% of the vote. And so, after 5 rounds of IRV, The Department of Elections had London Breed winning the D5 seat with 56%:

Breed’s victory showed that IRV once again, failed to help the “progressive” candidates, as no one candidate stood out enough to separate themselves from the rest, or worked in real harmony to ensure the IRV votes didn’t go to Breed. Based on the result, it may not have mattered, because the D5 base, like most District elections, is more inclined to vote for a home-grown, native resident of the District; preferably not someone appointed by the Mayor after one of their own was passed over; or perhaps someone not originally from San Francisco. It may also be possible that the voters were very likely disgusted with the all of the recent controversies, the tenor of the negative campaigning, and just wanted to move on. Sometimes, those kinds of attacks can boomerang on the attacker, and create a sympathetic vote for the attacked.

For Breed to become a common choice for those crucial 2nd and 3rd place votes, she must have resonated with a wide variety of D5 voters; much more than anyone knew. Breed’s signage was extremely visible in the months leading up to the election, and she certainly wasn’t hurt by all of the money that was poured into D5, either for or against her campaign. The controversy that has followed Olague, and her vote to reinstate the Sheriff, may have also played a role in her defeat, perhaps as much as the criticism of her tenure did.

For the second time, San Francisco will have two, African American women on the Board of Supervisors at the same time, with Breed and D10’s Malia Cohen, surprisingly uniting Bayview and the Fillmore with the kind of representation rarely, if ever seen seen in San Francisco. Barring uncounted ballots or a deluge of vote by mail, London Breed will be the next Supervisor of District 5.

In the other Supervisor races, Eric Mar looks to retain his seat in District 1, and F.X. Crowley appears to be the winner in the District 7 race after several rounds of IRV over Norman Yee. The Board of Supervisors looks to be a very interesting entity in 2013.

Editor’s note: Eric “Doc” Smith has been a homeowner in District 5 for 10 years, was a resident of District 10 for 2 years, and a former candidate for D10 Supervisor in 2010.

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