This February’s special election pitting Matt Haney against Davis Campos for David Chiu’s old seat could be the first of four elections for the exact same seat in just a nine-month span.
In a quirk of the calendar, there was very oddly no November election in San Francisco this year. You might have heard that a Republican won the governor seat in far-off Virginia, or that crazy Eric Adams beat even-crazier Curtis Sliwa for New York City mayor, or that the “Dems in Disarray” storyline had its annual post-election revival. But here in San Francisco, there was no election on Election Day 2021.
Though 2022 might be coming back on that with a vengeance. SFist has confirmed with the San Francisco Department of Elections that the state assembly race for David Chiu’s vacated District 17 seat could have as many as four — count ‘em — four elections in a nine-month span.
How can this happen? Let’s begin with the press release above, wherein Gavin Newsom declared a date for the special election to fill Chiu’s former seat. “Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation declaring a special election for the 17th Assembly District of the State of California on April 19, 2022,” the release says. “The primary for the special election will be held on February 15, 2022."
So that’s two elections right there, a February 15 primary (the day of the School Board recall election) and a general for the same seat. But those are special elections, the seat was already due for another primary in June 2022 (the day of the Recall Chesa Boudin election).
And for good measure, that primary has its general election on November 8, 2022, making for possibly four elections for the same assembly seat in a nine-month span.
“D-17 could appear on the ballot in four separate elections in 2022,” director of the San Francisco Department of Elections John Arntz told SFist via email. “The difference is the Feb and April 2022 elections apply to the vacancy that occurred for the current term. The June and Nov 2022 elections apply to the next term which begins in Jan 2023.”
But that’s a theoretical, we may see “only” three elections for the seat in 2022. “If an AD-17 candidate receives a majority of votes in the Feb 2022 election, state elections law indicates that person would be declared the winner and there would be no April 2022 election for AD-17,” Arntz adds. “This means voters would see this contest in three elections.”
In other words, if candidates Matt Haney, David Campos, or one of their challengers won more than 50% in the February primary, there would be no April 19 election for the seat.
But yes, it is theoretically possible that Campos and Haney could run against each other four times for the same seat in a nine-month period. Would they? Maybe not. Recall that after London Breed edged Mark Leno and Jane Kim in June 2018 special election, neither Leno nor Kim ran again in the general election for her seat the next year, maybe just figuring the voters has spoken and that was that.
Or maybe the two gifted fundraisers and ambitious pols Haney and Campos would literally face off four times in 2022 for the AD-17 seat. And considering you’ve got Recall Chesa Boudin and Recall the School Board elections in there too, you may need a bigger mailbox for all the election mailers headed your way next year.