Ed Lee Recall Effort Starts Slowly - June 1, 2016 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Ed Lee Recall Effort Starts Slowly

Though it feels like ages ago, it was only January when protesters interrupted Mayor Ed Lee's inauguration for a second term with screams for him to fire then-police Chief Greg Suhr.

Now that Suhr is gone, some of the same activists (and some political opportunists) are taking aim at Lee with a recall campaign.

Rarely attempted and even more rarely successful, a recall may still pose a real risk to Lee, who was reelected with a less-than-impressive 56 percent of the vote against a field of unknowns and has “enjoyed” poor polling ever since. That is, if the recall ever gets on the ballot. State and local law requires that a politician be in office for six months before a recall effort can be mounted; since Lee was inaugurated only six months ago, Department of Elections officials have informed petitioners that they cannot begin collecting signatures until July.

Petitioners, including the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition and former Lee challenger Francisco Herrera, have vowed a lawsuit, but they may do better to save the money for the campaign. To qualify for the ballot, a recall election needs to collect valid signatures from 10 percent of registered voters — or about 44,718 voters. That takes time and money, and so far, no moneyed labor union or financier has appeared as an angel investor.

Even if a grassroots petition campaign is successful, there's the recall campaign itself. Though he appears vulnerable, Lee would still be the heavy favorite in such a fight for the city's life. Dianne Feinstein easily survived a recall vote in 1983, and the recall has yet to claim a serious victim in San Francisco.