Oh, the halcyon days when certain San Franciscans thought the biggest threat to their happiness was Mayor Ed Lee. But those days are gone, and with them, it appears, are any hope of a recall effort to replace the man sitting in City Hall's Room 200.
But first, a whirlwind recap of the abortive attempt to unseat Lee: After an essentially uncontested election (sorry, Amy Farah Weiss and Broke-Ass Stuart, I'm just keeping it real) in the fall of 2015, Mayor Lee faced plummeting approval ratings and a January 2016 inauguration held beneath a cloud of allegations of corruption and isolation. By May, rumors of an effort to recall the Mayor were swirling, with a campaign announced in July 2016 proposing a special election for mayor in June of this year.
The recall campaign got off to a rocky start when a rally (and Lee-supporting counter-rally organized by late SF power broker Rose Pak) was extremely sketchily interrupted by a supposed recall supporter who shouted anti-Asian epithets. By October, petitions in support of the special election hit the streets, leaving organizers until March 18 to gather the 47,565 legitimate and verified signatures necessary to get the June election (which, as then noted would likely "be a notoriously low-turnout special election in which the mayor’s vaunted turnout machine would enjoy a humongous advantage") on the books.
But somewhere between October 8 and today, signature collection conked out. Days after the deadline, the Chron reports today, the Department of Elections says they never saw a single signature submitted for the effort.
The Chron posits that the racial incident at the rally, which SF Weekly suggested at the time was "political maneuvering" that "which might be enough to quash" the intentions of those attempting to unseat Lee, is what sank the recall campaign. Also possible, though, was the Department of Elections' mandated six-month wait that meant paperwork necessary to create a recall petition wouldn't be processed until July, followed by "four separate cycles of ten days each" between recall advocates and the Department of Elections before the petition was finalized...months during which the general public's desire for a Lee alternative could very well have cooled.
Speaking with the Chron, anti-recall effort spokesperson P.J. Johnston says that “Recall leaders blundered from the beginning, and never gathered any significant public or political support." And before you ask, yes, the anti-recall effort was an actual thing, with $75,000 spent to oppose the campaign and an additional $10K going toward legal bills.
But perhaps it was just the perspective that comes with current events that caused the anti-Lee fervor to fade. After all, many of the failings cited by Lee opponents pale in comparison to the failings now seen every day in Washington, D.C. With just a few weeks between the day the petitions were released into the wild and the November presidential election, it's possible that after November 10, many possible signators realized they had far more troubling fish to fry, and that Lee could be endured for a few more years.