District 4 candidate Jessica Ho reacts to the election results at her election watch party in San Francisco, Calif on November 6, 2018. (Emma Marie Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Progressive Mar pulls ahead in District 4 contest

UPDATE 12:26 AM:
The early returns of the District 4 race showed Gordon Mar ahead of Jessica Ho, the leading moderate candidate and legislative aide to current supervisor Katy Tang. But when ranked choice voting was calculated Ho took the lead by just 18 votes.

But as the vote tally was updated through the night, Mar’s lead continued to increase and he is now the apparent winner. By the end of the night Mar was ahead of Ho in ranked choice voting by 1,626 votes. It seems unlikely the outcome will change, but there are tens of thousands of ballots cast citywide that the Department of Elections will continue to count in the coming days.

Progressive candidate Gordon Mar took an early lead in the District 4 race in first choice votes over leading moderate challenger Jessica Ho, but under ranked-choice voting, Ho took the lead by just 18 votes.

The tally is only for the vote by mail ballots the Department of Elections received before Tuesday.

Among first-choice votes, Mar was ahead of Ho by just 74 votes. But in a second updated count that includes votes at polling stations, his lead increased to about 400 votes. The second updated count did not include a ranked choice voting calculation. That won’t come until later tonight.

“Just the fact that we’re in the lead even if it’s a small margin is encouraging because most people view those as pretty conservative voters who vote early absentees,” Mar said.

He continued, “We were just running to get as many of the first place votes as we can get. I don’t expect to get 50 percent of first-place votes so then it’s going to come down to ranked choice voting. It’s anyone’s guess how that’s going to go.”

District 4 candidate Jessica Ho reacts to the election results at her election watch party in San Francisco, Calif on November 6, 2018. (Emma Marie Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

With a surprise last-minute decision by District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang to not run for another four-year term, the race to represent the Sunset on the Board of Supervisors was thrown wide open. Eight candidates vied for the seat.

Tang and other moderates like Mayor London Breed put their backing behind Tang’s legislative aide, Ho. Ho had the most third-party, or independent expenditures benefiting her of any of the supervisor contests, reaching more than $650,000, largely from the Progress For All, a political group whose donors are largely pro-development labor unions and tech leaders.

Critics of Ho emphasized she had only recently moved to the district in March from Los Angeles.

Progressives backed Mar, a long-time Sunset resident who served as executive director of the nonprofit Jobs with Justice, in an effort to flip the traditionally moderate neighborhood. Third-party spending backing Mar totaled about $170,000, including contributions from SEIU Local 2015, a labor union representing home care workers.

The third-largest fundraiser in the contest was Trevor McNeil, a public school teacher in San Mateo, who Breed endorsed as her number two choice.

In a final push for votes, Mar was joined by such politicians as Supervisor Jane Kim and Assemblymember Phil Ting walking around the district, while Ho was joined by Tang, Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu and state senator Scott Wiener.

“I think it’s helpful,” Kim said of Breed’s endorsement before early returns came out. “But when I did door-knocking for Gordon he had tons and tons of IDs. I think that it really hurt Jessica that she just moved to San Francisco in March.”

Kim continued, “It just felt really good for Gordon, I think he stood out as the candidate with the most experience and the endorsements.”

Michael Barba contributed to this story

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Jessica Ho, legislative aide for Supervisor Katy Tang, appeared to be in the lead Tuesday night in early returns due ot ranked choice voting. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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