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    Keeping Score of the San Francisco Mayor’s Race

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer

    I’m a sports superfan. I’ll watch, and sometimes play, anything that involves a ball or a puck: baseball, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, rugby, football, volleyball and lacrosse. I’ll cheer for athletes participating in any kind of race: track, swimming, skiing … heck, I’ll even watch the baby pig racing at the Alameda County Fair. (While no piglets were harmed in the race, I try not to think of their probable future in the Oscar Mayer section of the supermarket.)   

    I’m often asked by neighbors, friends, co-workers and random people, “Who is winning the San Francisco mayor’s race?” We watch sports and measure the outcome and probable winner by the “score,” so why not keep score during the mayor’s race? The only other alternative would be to invite the candidates to the Alameda County Fair to suit up for pig racing, but I don’t see that happening. 

    What is the appropriate measure for scorekeeping? While the amount of money raised by the campaign is important, it is not a guarantee of electoral success. History is littered with candidates who spent the equivalent of the Gross Domestic Product of a developed nation on their campaign and lost … badly. In addition, the last thing I want to do is to hunker down in the SF Ethics office and pore through reams of Campaign Finance Disclosure forms (Form 460), so with no other alternative and a scientific mind that doesn’t believe in psychic readings, I chose the all-important and often overrated holy grail of campaigns: the “endorsement.”

    What are endorsements, and do they really matter? Endorsements are a person or group’s support of a candidate for elected office. Whether they really matter is up for debate, but they make the candidate feel good. A campaign is a back-breaking, sleep depriving equivalent of running a 26-mile marathon almost every day, so who wouldn’t want a little endorsement love? Some endorsements are more valuable than others. In San Francisco, the coveted endorsement of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is a much sought-after golden ticket, as is the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. They both have active Slate Card and field programs and do a great deal of “get out the vote” (GOTV) organizing for their endorsed candidates. 

    The other categories of endorsers are: elected officials, in other words, people who have won an election; community organizations/groups that include unions, affinity groups, political clubs, news/media outlets or any aggregate of 2 or more people who give themselves a catchy name; and a new-ish category called “community leaders,” which used to mean famous people who made substantial contributions to the community and were recognized for their greatness, but in the era of social media where everyone can be a celebrity, let’s just say community leaders are unsung heroes who walk among us.

    Of the 4 major candidates in the race, 3 have posted their endorsements on their websites, so as much as I respect Angela Alioto for the good work she has done for the city, I had to leave her out of this fun exercise. (Angela, post your endorsements so I can do a follow-up!) I know Angela and admire her commitment to civil rights and her no-nonsense approach to improving the quality of life issues that currently plague the city. 

    I’m not personally endorsing anyone in this column, but I will say kind words about everyone because my Mama raised me right.  Mark Leno has a long and distinguished career in public service as a Supervisor and State Legislator; I’ve introduced him at political events and I could never list all of the contributions he has made for the citizens of San Francisco throughout his illustrious career. 

    I helped London Breed on her first campaign for Supervisor when she boldly took on and vanquished an appointed incumbent.  She has continuously beaten the odds in a world where the deck is often stacked against her and as President of the Board of Supervisors, she has cemented her reputation as a formidable and respected leader. 

    Jane Kim and I are political friends and have worked together on initiatives. I respect her for the hard work she has done in one of the most challenging districts in the city.  

    So, “What’s the Score?” To tabulate, I used the self-reported endorsement lists on the candidates’ websites. In situations where the candidate received either a dual or ranked endorsement, they still got 1 point; my rationale was that they are appearing on the slate card (or other materials) and because I generally prefer whole numbers. All 3 candidates have categories entitled “Elected Officials,” “Organizations” and “Community Leaders.” London Breed added a fourth category for “Friends and Neighbors,” and by the looks of things, she is a very friendly and neighborly person. For this exercise, I added her F&N total to the Community Leaders.

    In the “Elected Officials” category, Jane Kim listed people who were actually “elected,” so she gets brownie points for accuracy.  London Breed labeled her category as “Elected Officials & Commissioners” and I like that because I’m a stickler for detail. Mark Leno listed Commissioners in this “Elected Officials” category—note to the campaign: Commissioners are appointed, not elected, so you have a bit of a misnomer to fix.

        Category Leno Breed Kim
    Elected Officials 44 48 23
    Organizations 24 26 25
    Community Leaders 238 119 117
    Friends   135  
    Totals 306 328 165

    According to my not-so-scientific algorithm, London Breed is currently ahead of Mark Leno by 22 endorsements (7% for those keeping score at home). That said, all 3 of these candidates have a record of winning races against incumbents, or in Jane Kim’s case, against a well-endorsed favorite, so none of them should be counted out. 

    If London Breed wins on June 5, you heard it here first. If Leno, Kim or Alioto win, then, this was a fun exercise that gave me a topic to write about. Two years ago, when a friend asked me why the Sharks lost in the Stanley Cup finals, the logical response was “because the Pittsburgh Penguins scored more goals than the Sharks in 4 out of 6 games.” The answer to who will win the mayor’s race on June 5 is “whomever gets more votes than the other candidates.”

    Louise “Lou” Fischer is the Immediate Past Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a San Francisco Commissioner and has served in leadership positions in multiple non-profit and community-based organizations.