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Alice LGBT Dem club split over SF mayor race

by Matthew S. Bajko

Mayoral candidate Mark Leno. Photo: Cynthia Laird
Mayoral candidate Mark Leno. Photo: Cynthia Laird  

Unable to coalesce around one candidate seeking to become San Francisco's next mayor in the June special election, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club is looking at issuing a dual endorsement in the race.

The moderate political club's political action committee deadlocked last Saturday between gay former state lawmaker and supervisor Mark Leno and Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who served as acting mayor for six weeks upon the death December 12 of the late mayor Ed Lee. Rather than allow her to keep the position while campaigning for it, a majority of Breed's board colleagues last month voted to elect former supervisor Mark Farrell as interim mayor through the June 5 election.

Mayoral candidate London Breed  

After hearing from five of the mayoral candidates February 3, the Alice PAC voted three times on making a sole endorsement recommendation to the full club. But each time the PAC voted, it was split between Leno and Breed, according to those present at the meeting.

In order to move forward with an endorsement decision, the PAC decided to suspend its bylaws and vote at its next meeting in late February to recommend a dual, unranked endorsement of both Leno and Breed. That decision means the soonest Alice's general membership could vote on a mayoral endorsement is at its meeting in March rather than at its meeting Monday, February 12, as had been expected.

That night Alice members will be voting to approve the PAC's recommendation that it endorse gay attorney Rafael Mandelman in the special election on the June ballot for District 8 supervisor. He is vying to oust from office gay Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who was appointed last January by Lee to fill the vacancy created by the election of gay former supervisor Scott Wiener to the state Senate.

In the 2011 mayoral race Alice issued a ranked endorsement, with its first place nod going to City Attorney Dennis Herrera and second place going to gay former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty. Voters in San Francisco can rank up to three candidates for mayor on their ballots. As the candidates with the least votes are eliminated, their voters' second and third choices for mayor are tabulated until someone receives 50 percent plus one of the vote and is declared the winner.

While the PAC is expected to confirm the unranked, dual endorsement of Leno and Breed, the delay in the decision does give time for supporters of both candidates in Alice to push for a different outcome. Alice co-chairs Eric Lukoff and Gina Simi did not respond to the Bay Area Reporter's request for comment, nor did Leno's campaign.

In an emailed reply to the B.A.R., Breed stated, "I would be extremely proud to have the endorsement of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. I've been a longtime Alice member, friend, and supporter of all the club's work for our LGBTQ community and for the city at-large."

A similar scenario could play out at the more progressive Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club with its mayoral endorsement vote, which was moved up a month at the request of supporters of District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim. Its PAC will hold a special meeting from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, February 17, at the Main Library's Koret Auditorium to hear from mayoral candidates before voting on an endorsement recommendation.

As with Alice, it is unclear if any one mayoral candidate can meet the 60 percent threshold to secure a sole endorsement from Milk. Members of the club appear split between Leno and Kim in the race and are set to vote on the endorsement in the mayor's race at their meeting Tuesday, February 20.

Several endorsements have already come in from other groups in the race. Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents over 54,000 health care workers, educators, non-profit and public workers in Northern California, issued a ranked-choice endorsement with Kim in first, Breed second, and Leno in third.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers also issued a ranked-choice endorsement, giving Leno its first place nod, followed by Kim in second and former supervisor Angela Alioto in third.

Financial reports show Leno, Breed evenly matched
Because he had launched his mayoral bid last year when the election was to be in 2019 to succeed Lee, Leno reported having the most money of the main mayoral candidates in the race when he filed his financial disclosure form on January 31. In 2017 Leno raised $418,146 for his mayoral bid.

According to his filing, he spent $93,379 on his campaign last year and had $338,267 in his account at the start of 2018. He can use that money for this year's special election.

In a news release last month, Breed's campaign announced it had been able to match the campaign war chest Leno was sitting on. It said she had raised $320,000 over 22 days last month after filing to enter the mayor's race on January 9, the deadline to do so.

Alioto, who twice before has run for mayor, reported this week that she had raised $60,557 and that she had $48,138 remaining in her account. As for Kim, she reported raising $51,080 and reported having $48,753 at the start of February.

Queer nonbinary Democrat Amy Farah Weiss reported raising $7,589 and had most of it remaining. An advocate for the construction of affordable housing, Weiss ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Lee in 2015.


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