Ed Lee became The City’s first elected Chinese-American mayor Wednesday.
Flanked by his wife and daughter outside his office after ranked-choice voting results were announced, Lee fought back tears as he claimed victory.
Click on the photo at right to see a more on the San Francisco mayoral race results.
“It’s wonderful to represent so many diverse communities,” the mayor said.
Supervisor John Avalos — Lee’s closest rival — declined to concede, but faces a near-impossible margin to overcome. When a ranked-choice voting simulation redistributed the second- and third-place votes of losing candidates, Lee easily came out ahead of the pack.
About 32,000 absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted today and Friday, according to the Department of Elections. Even so, local political observers can’t see a way for anyone to overtake the mayor at this stage.
“I think Ed Lee is way too far ahead,” said David Lee, the executive director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. “I think there is a great pride and a sense that history has been made.”
Mayoral candidates including Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and City Attorney Dennis Herrera conceded defeat to Lee Wednesday evening.
“Mayor Lee truly distinguished himself in an outstanding field of dedicated public servants,” Herrera said in a statement.
Herrera’s camp attacked Lee throughout the race, at times equating the mayor with a Republican Party shill and an easily flappable bureaucrat unable to resist the influence of City Hall insiders and their brand of patronage politics.
At a political forum Wednesday afternoon, political analysts said Avalos benefited from staying out of the constant negative attacks lodged by other rival candidates against the mayor — the race’s consistent front-runner in polls.
Public affairs consultant and lobbyist Alex Clemens said the attacks appear to have fallen flat.
“If you’re going to stab the king, you have to kill the king,” Clemens said. “That’s basic Machiavelli.”
David Lee said the mayor’s successful bid has been warmly received in Chinatown — and in China.
“They now have a Chinese mayor in the most famous city in America,” David Lee said. “They’ve waited a long time … and they made it happen.”
Winning the mayoral race wasn’t Lee’s only electoral victory. Two ballot measures he championed — Proposition B, a $248 million road-repair bond, and Proposition C, a pension-reform measure — were also approved by voters.
Now that campaign season is over, Lee could be facing even bigger challenges than vying for public office. The City is facing annual deficits in the hundreds of millions over the next five years and voters rejected a measure — also backed by Lee — to raise the local sales tax.