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Sheehy stumbles early in District 8 supervisor race

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CCSF Board of Trustees member Rafael Mandelman, left, and incumbent Jeff Sheehy, right, are the expected frontrunners in the race for District 8 supervisor in June 2018. (All: Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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http://sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/

One candidate in the race for District 8 supervisor just hit full gallop as his incumbent opponent stumbled out of the gate.

That incumbent would be Supervisor appointee Jeff Sheehy, who was tapped by Mayor Ed Lee for his seat representing the Castro after Scott Wiener won his state senate seat.

Sheehy and his campaign consultant, Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners, have parted ways, according to a filing with the Ethics Commission, which was effective Oct. 18.

OK, OK, stop rolling your eyes. This may be incredibly inside-baseball stuff, but it’s also akin to Rocky Balboa ditching Mickey smack in the middle of his training for a championship fight, or Jed York tossing out Jim Harbaugh just as the 49ers began to resume their winning ways.

As Mickey told Rocky, “You’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder!”

Well, in local politics, that’s true only if you’ve got the right consultant in your corner, and the District 8 race is right around the corner: June 2018.

The separation also comes on the eve of a major upswing for Sheehy’s strongest opponent, City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees member Rafael Mandelman. Just last week, Mandelman, the progressive candidate, secured the endorsement of former state senator and mayoral candidate Mark Leno — a big coup.

Leno, who held the District 8 supervisor seat from 1998-2002, his District 8 supervisor successor Bevan Dufty (2002-2011) and former supervisor and assemblymember Tom Ammiano have all coalesced behind Mandelman, making for some powerful allies with history in the Castro. And that’s a neighborhood that remembers its history all too well.

Some neighborhood denizens pointed out that Mandelman is cribbing from Wiener’s playbook by knocking on every door and rebranding himself as a “commonsense” progressive who can work with anyone, as opposed to an ideological firebrand.

“That’s nonsense,” Mandelman said, in response to those claims. “All someone has to do is look at my record of service on the Board of Trustees to see I reach across ideological lines.”

As for Sheehy’s stumble, it apparently gets worse the farther down the rabbit hole you go.

Initially, he was going to work with veteran campaign consultant Maggie Muir, who may not have a perfect record — Julie Christensen was a tough candidate to take across the finish line against Aaron Peskin — but is widely regarded as one of the best consultants in The City.

Somewhere along the line, though, Sheehy backed out of working with Muir and opted for BMWL, which has limited experience running candidate field campaigns.

“When Jeff was appointed, he reached out and expressed an interest in working together,” Muir confirmed. “Then for whatever reason, he went with BMWL.”

Muir emphasized they had “nothing signed,” but when pressed — Has anyone ever backed out of working with you? — she admitted it hadn’t happened before.

Wiener, who was represented by Muir, said, “I have complete confidence in Jeff. He’s been working in this community for so many years. He’s a grownup in the room, and he’s going to do great things for this district.”
Sheehy has now brought on Larry Tramutola, a campaign consultant who often works in Oakland.

“I’ve known Jeff for many years,” Tramutola said in a statement. “For years he has fought for the LGBT community and San Francisco neighborhoods. When he asked if we would work with him, there was no hesitation.”

At least Sheehy finally made up his mind.

* * *

Strangely intimate connections are commonplace in City Hall, but the latest is taking on Mayoral proportions. As former San Francisco Examiner Editor-in-Chief Michael Howerton exits his role as Chief of Staff for Board of Supervisors President London Breed, he’ll be replaced by longtime politico Andrea Bruss.

Bruss’ future husband — with a wedding date of Nov. 18 — is Judson True, chief of staff for Assemblymember David Chiu. Let’s keep connecting those dots …

Breed and Chiu are both heavily rumored mayoral candidates.

So what happens if they both run?

Depending on how long Bruss stays with Breed, it may make the two (potential) mayoral campaigns … rather intimate.

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