Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

UPDATED: Leno responds to talk of dual endorsement in SF D8 supe race

Mark Leno speaks with the press following his filing papers to run for mayor. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Mark Leno speaks with the press following his filing papers to run for mayor. Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco mayoral candidate Mark Leno has poured cold water on talk that he will dual endorse in the special election this June for his former Board of Supervisors seat.

Minutes after the Bay Area Reporter had posted a story to its blog Friday afternoon noting that he had so far remained mum on if he would make such a move, Leno broke his silence in a text saying he was sticking to his sole endorsement of Rafael Mandelman in the District 8 race on the June 5 primary ballot, as the Bay Area Reporter had first reported in October.

Mandelman, a gay attorney who serves on the board that oversees City College of San Francisco, is running against Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, a gay married father who is the first openly HIV-positive person to serve on the board.

Sheehy was appointed last January by the late mayor Ed Lee to fill the vacancy created by gay former Supervisor Scott Wiener’s election to the state Senate. He must run in June to serve out the remainder of Wiener’s term through early 2019 and again in November for a full four-year term.

Mandelman has also filed to run in the fall race no matter the outcome of the June election. It is the second time Mandelman has sought the District 8 seat, having lost to Wiener in 2010.

Leno, a gay man who had been appointed a supervisor by former mayor Willie Brown, was the first person to win the board’s District 8 seat, which includes the gay Castro neighborhood as well as Noe Valley where Leno resides, when supervisors reverted to being elected by district in 2000.

It had been expected that Leno would remain neutral in the District 8 contest due to his mayoral ambitions and close ties to both candidates. But unlike Mandelman, who was an early backer of Leno for mayor, Sheehy refused to early-endorse him in the race that had been expected to take place in 2019.

Sheehy had told the B.A.R. he planned to endorse in the mayoral race after his own election this year. His decision paved the way for Mandelman to secure the early endorsement from Leno.

Sheehy sides with progressives

Then came the sudden death in December of Lee, resulting in a special election for mayor being scheduled on this year’s primary ballot. Leno quickly announced he would run, and earlier this month District 5 Supervisor London Breed also launched a bid to be mayor. She had become acting mayor when Lee died due to her being board president and had wanted to remain so through the June election.

But at Tuesday’s board meeting Sheehy cast the deciding vote to install Mark Farrell, who had held the District 2 seat on the board, as interim mayor, effectively ousting Breed from Room 200 at City Hall. He sided with the board’s five progressive members who had argued that Breed should not serve as mayor and board president at the same time and that allowing her to do so would be unfair to voters and the other mayoral candidates.

Sheehy’s vote sparked talk that it opened the door for Leno to dual endorse him and Mandelman in the District 8 race, as Breed’s removal as acting mayor is largely seen as benefiting Leno’s mayoral bid. Until late Friday (January 26) it was unclear if Leno would in fact make such a decision.

The B.A.R. had contacted Leno Thursday seeking comment on if he would dual endorse the District 8 candidates. Hours later Erin Mundy, Leno’s mayoral campaign manager, responded, indicating in a text message that the first they heard of such a possibility was by reading it in a San Francisco Chronicle article.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, he’s got long-standing relationships with both Rafael and Jeff. And as you know he’s endorsed Rafael’s candidacy,” wrote Mundy in a texted reply.

Pressed on if Leno was considering a dual endorsement, Mundy replied that Leno was “still with” Mandelman.

After once again contacting Leno Friday morning to see if he had a comment, he texted the paper minutes after the initial blog post went public to reiterate Mundy’s comments.

“Nothing to add to Erin’s comments. I am with Rafael,” wrote Leno in his text.

Mandelman had told the B.A.R. this week that he didn’t know if Leno would dual endorse in the supervisor race and that the two hadn’t talked about it.

As for Sheehy, he told the B.A.R. he wasn’t expecting Leno to change his endorsement.

“I would be very grateful were Mark to do that but I haven’t had a conversation about that with Mark,” said Sheehy.

He also pushed back against headlines in the mainstream press this week that have painted his campaign as being in disarray after he parted ways last week with his second campaign consultant. He said relationships between candidates and consultants are often “fraught” and “tense.”

Rather than look to hire another consultant, Sheehy said his focus is on hiring staff to manage the day-to-day needs of his campaign.

“I am an activist not a politician, so my mind frame on things is different,” said Sheehy. “I am less motivated by the smart moves than I am by the right moves.”

Nor does he think his voting for Farrell cost him the June election.

“I don’t know what the political ramifications for that vote were, but I know it was the right thing,” said Sheehy, adding that, “I don’t think I am going to lose.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 26, 2018 @ 2:59 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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