Supervisor Ahsha Safai and former supervisor Vallie Brown struggled to attract votes in Tuesday’s Democratic County Central Committee.

Some politicos make a weak showing in Democratic Party race

Name recognition usually a big factor in low profile race

Super Tuesday election results saw a clash of presidential titans, with results that dashed the hopes of many San Franciscans backing Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

But here in The City another, far smaller election played out for the Democratic Party board.

And while their responsibilities on that Democratic County Central Committee (or DCCC, as the insiders call it) are limited to local election endorsements and party-building — really, recruiting voters — the numbers may offer illumination for future supervisor races.

To wit, Supervisor Ahsha Safai and former supervisor Vallie Brown both ran for this tiny Democratic Party board, and both are getting their clocks cleaned by newcomers with little-to-no name recognition, and by future potential opponents as well.

Safai, in particular, netted incredibly low results compared to his rumored rival, former supervisor John Avalos, in the upcoming 2020 November election to defend his District 11 seat.

As of Wednesday’s newest Department of Elections count, Avalos had received 27,586 votes, while Safai earned just 10,200. If the vote pattern holds, Safai will lose this tiny little election where ten seats were up for grabs.

That’s absolutely bonkers for a sitting member of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco.

Incumbency is normally an enormous advantage in politics — an incumbent can generate news with proposals large and small to help constituents. But Avalos has a long history in the district and — apparently — high name recognition despite no longer being in office.

Notably, it isn’t exactly apples-to-apples: Safai and Avalos are running in separate districts that essentially cleave San Francisco in geographic halves, with different ballot counts that take a little bit of mathematical finagling to unravel.

But the fact that there is a possibility Safai might lose such a tiny election, irrespective of Avalos’ vote count, boggles the mind. Notably, the Department of Elections had 112,000 ballots left to count and review, but the count as of Wednesday included 228,697 ballots in the district.

Avalos is third place in District 17, as of the current count, and Safai is in 14th.

But even relative newcomers (who have not held higher office) like A.J. Thomas, Queena Chen, Kelly Akemi Groth (BART Murdergate costume superstar!), and Peter Gallotta beat out Safai in votes. These are folks without a ton of volunteer support, busting their butts day-in and day-out campaigning — similar to the party-building work they’ll have to do on the DCCC itself — but who San Franciscans likely have never heard of.

Notably, Safai’s poor showing — at least, so far — comes despite him receiving more campaign donations than any other candidate running for DCCC. At least $56,025 was spent in his support, while most candidates, though not all, took in between $5,000 and $20,000.

Avalos, who was supervisor of District 11 immediately before Safai and was termed out, pulled papers to run against Safai this November but hasn’t yet completed that filing process. He’s waiting until next week to make his final decision, he told me.

As for the Democratic Party board race, Avalos said in a statement, “After being out of office a number of years it was quite an honor to get so much support, especially from the Excelsior. It’s still early, but Safai not making the cut shows he is vulnerable despite the oodles of money (he) is raising from real estate and construction interests.”

As for Brown, the former District 5 supervisor she’s holding on to a middling vote of 9,451. There are 14 seats in the district of San Francisco Brown was seeking to represent on the Democratic Party board — but she’s in 21st place, out of 35 candidates.

Sources say she’s planning to run against Supervisor Dean Preston once again, but this may be a compelling reason to stay out.

Supervisor Shamann Walton is another sitting supervisor to perform poorly in the DCCC race, with just 9,792 votes so far, he is in 19th place in a race for 14 open seats. This will perhaps less dire for him than Safai’s performance, however, as Walton doesn’t have an election staring him in the face this year.

Perhaps the only moderate-aligned candidate who flipped that script is Suzy Loftus, the former District Attorney who lost her election to DA Chesa Boudin. That was a high profile race, so there’s likely some name recognition working in Loftus’ favor there.

Loftus also works hard. I saw her out on Geary Boulevard just last week, sign in hand.

Though it’s never guaranteed, that’s the only way to win.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at

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