You don’t usually see two opposing candidates endorse each other less than a month before the election. But that’s what happened Thursday morning at City Hall, as Sup. Jane Kim and former State Senator Mark Leno held a joint press conference announcing that each was endorsing the other as their preferred No. 2 alternative in the ranked-choice race for mayor.
The two candidates also unveiled a “joint ad” Thursday morning, which is already posted to YouTube and seen above. The campaigns claim they’re splitting the cost of the ad, which they say will appear on cable television and social media.
“We’re telling all of our supporters to vote for both of us,” Sup. Kim told an assembled crowd Thursday. “Mark and I are opponents, as everyone knows, but we also agree that negative attacks don’t serve us in an election cycle, and certainly don’t educate our voters.”
The move is reminiscent of the “Vote 1-2-3 to Replace Ed Lee” strategy from the previous mayoral election, where Lee’s underdog opponents tried to corral their voters to supporting the other candidates. (You get three selections on the mayoral ballot). They didn’t stop Ed Lee from winning in 2015, but there is some precedent for this strategy. Jean Quan won the 2010 Oakland mayoral race with only 24 percent of first-place votes.
Leno and Kim seem to be placing a high value on second-choice votes. Recent polls have shown Sup. London Breed with a first-choice lead, and she’s received the most in campaign donations. But Sup. Breed has a significant advantage in Super PAC contributions, which cannot coordinate with the campaigns, but do the dirty work of running the most vicious attack ads.
“These Super PACs are not voters fighting to have their voices heard, they are investors making investments for favorable treatment at City Hall,” Leno said Thursday.
Joe Kukura, SF Weekly
Interestingly, there was something of a counterdemonstration at the press conference, a hippopotamus-costumed “hippocrite” — pink tutu and all — calling attention to Leno and Kim’s own Super PAC support. (Kim’s campaign has benefited from more than $230,000 in Super PAC support according to filings with the city ethics commission, and Leno’s campaign nearly $55,000. Sup. Breed’s campaign has benefited from $500,000 in Super PAC support.)
The “hippocrite” often interrupted the candidates’ speeches, and also needed help navigating the crowd in the costume. This reporter overheard one hippo helper address the hippocrite with “Hey, Conor,” bringing to mind former Breed Chief of Staff Conor Johnston’s styrofoam monster costume in a 2016 campaign commercial.