S.F. Assembly race: Haney, Campos head to runoff

Next round of voting on April 19, followed by June primary election

The race to represent the eastern half of San Francisco in the Assembly will go to a runoff between Supervisor Matt Haney and former Supervisor David Campos as none of the four candidates received a majority of the vote.

With all early voting and in-person votes counted, Haney was leading Campos, 37.4% to 35.5%. More mail and provisional ballots will be counted, but those numbers are not expected to change the results of the race. Both were far outdistancing entrepreneur Bilal Mahmood and City College Trustee Thea Selby. The seat opened up when David Chiu was appointed city attorney by Mayor London Breed in September.

Haney and Campos will face off again in an April 19 runoff to determine who will serve for the remainder of Chiu’s term, which ends in December. The winner will then compete in the June 7 primary election followed by the general election on Nov. 8 to serve a full two-year term.

Tuesday’s election was a display of woefully low voter turnout, with just 25.8% of The City’s registered voters casting ballots. That number will drift slightly up as final ballots are counted, but it is far below the 7o% turnout for the September gubernatorial recount or the whooping 86.3% showing for the 2020 presidential election.

Without the lighting rod of the school board recall, the April runoff numbers will likely be even lower.

Haney’s swift ascent in San Francisco politics included stints as president of the San Francisco Board of Education, co-founder of a nonprofit that fights for an end to mass incarceration and legislative aid to former state Senator Joe Simitian.

As the votes were counted, Haney arrived at District Six, a collection of outdoor food trucks in SoMa named after the supervisorial district he represents, to chants of “Haney! Haney!”

“We have a coalition of folks who believe strongly that we need to build more housing,” Haney told the crowd. “We put that message on the line in this race.”

Haney’s swift ascent in San Francisco politics included stints as president of the San Francisco Board of Education, co-founder of a nonprofit that fights for an end to mass incarceration and legislative aid to former state Senator Joe Simitian.

Representing the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods, which face entrenched challenges around poverty, substance abuse and mental health, Haney has spearheaded legislative victories that champion core progressive causes: The creation of Mental Health SF to serve The City’s most vulnerable; a city charter amendment to break up the Department of Public Works and address corruption; and Proposition L to raise funds for the municipal budget by taxing companies with highly compensated chief executives. With that, Haney has sought to position himself as the most prepared to lead on The City’s most pressing issues at the state level.

“The pandemic really underscored the role of the state and how interconnected we are,” he said. “We especially need every neighborhood and city to step up if we are going to see the progress we need on housing affordability and homelessness.”

Spirits were also high as votes were tallied over at the Campos campaign party, just a block away at the legendary queer bar, The Eagle.

“We have given voters a very clear choice,” Campos said to supporters under rose-colored lights. “Voters will say, we want someone who’s beholden to the people and not the corporations.”

Campos boasts a laundry list of political experience that gave him name recognition among many voters and helped to catapult him to the front of this race.

The former District 9 supervisor is an immigrant who escaped Guatemala as a teenager and settled with his family in Southern California. His lengthy political resume includes serving two full terms on the Board of Supervisors, chairing the San Francisco Democratic Party and serving as District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s chief of staff.

The favorite of The City’s progressive establishment, Campos received the endorsement of six sitting members of the Board of Supervisors even as their colleague Haney entered the race.

“This is the power of a grassroots campaign that works for the people, not politics,” Campos said.

Both Haney and Campos enjoyed a comfortable margin over Selby and Mahmood, the latter of whom made a final push that had some thinking he could overtake Campos.

Mahmood billed himself as an outsider seeking to represent the needs of San Francisco residents, receiving heavy hitting endorsements plus a surge of late-in-the-game fundraising dollars.

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