SF Supervisor Matt Haney and former Supervisor David Campos are heading for a runoff election in April, after neither received more than 50% of the vote on Tuesday in the race for David Chiu's former Assembly seat.
Were this a normal city election we'd be saying it's too close to call this morning, with Haney pulling in just over 24,000 votes at last count — slightly fewer than the ~27,000 people who voted to oust the three school board members — representing 37.4% of the vote, and Campos getting 23,000 or 35.5% of the vote. The other two candidates, Bilal Mahmood and Thea Selby, have received 21% and 6% respectively.
This sets the stage for yet another election the city will be having in just two months time, a runoff for this seat with potential consequences to shake up the Board of Supervisors and bolster Mayor London Breed's sphere of influence on the board. Should Haney prevail, Breed will get to appoint his successor, which is likely to weaken the current majority held by the progressive bloc who often defies Breed politically — and this would also remove a potential rival in the 2023 mayor's race as well.
Despite all the energy and attention behind the school board recall that was also part of Tuesday's ballot, overall voter turnout remained "woefully low" as the Examiner puts it. As of now, with ballots counted thus far, 26% of the city's eligible voters participated in this election — a far cry from the 70% who cast ballots in September's special election to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.
Turnout could be even lower when Haney and Campos face their runoff on April 19, without anything else on the ballot to galvanize interest.
Haney had an election night party the SoMa food truck park District Six, where supporters rallied behind his campaign that focused mainly on building more housing in the city.
"We have a coalition of folks who believe strongly that we need to build more housing," Haney said, per the Examiner. "We put that message on the line in this race."
Campos had his election night rally a block away at the Eagle, telling supporters, "We have given voters a very clear choice. Voters will say, we want someone who’s beholden to the people and not the corporations."
The Haney-Campos battle is just the latest domino in the ongoing fallout from the 2020 scandal engulfing City Hall, via the federal indictment of former Public Works director Mohammed Nuru. Another figure charged in the broad federal corruption probe was Harlan Kelly, the former head of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. After Kelly resigned from that roll, Breed appointed former City Attorney Dennis Herrera to the SFPUC, and subsequently named Chiu to replace Herrera as City Attorney. Thus we have the open seat on the state Assembly.
Like Haney and Campos, Chiu formerly served on the SF Board of Supervisors.
And April's runoff will not be the last time voters will be choosing between these two. As SFist noted previously, yesterday's was the primary for the previously scheduled special election in April to complete Chiu's term. Then this seat was already scheduled for a primary in the June election — on which ballot there will also be the choice to recall DA Chesa Boudin — and in November, we will vote yet again on who will get the next term in the Assembly.