Ed Lee's absentee coup


The most remarkable number in the election results was clear before a single election-day ballot was counted. The absentee ballots were released around 8:30 p.m., and they were stunning: Ed Lee has 26,621 votes. The nearest competitor, John Avalos, was at 7,080.

That's right -- Lee was almost 20,000 votes ahead before election day. And that turned out to be the margin of victory -- Avalos actually got more votes than Lee from the people who voted Nov. 8.

The reason Lee is likely to be the next mayor is because -- through a combination of traditonal hard work on identifying supporters and getting them to vote by mail and quite possibly some degree of illegal conduct -- he had 26,000 votes in the bag long before the polls opened.

He was, of course, helped by the independent expenditure committees and by the fact that he had a natural base in Chinatown (and people on the ground there to get that base to vote). But none of the other campaigns managed to come close to that level of organizing. It's something progressives have to keep in mind -- elections in San Francisco are no longer won and lost on election day.


gratified that you had the dignity not to use this defeat as an opportunity to whine about voter fraud. For all the energy and enthusiasm of the grass-roots effort in ChinaTown to get the vote out, there is no evidence that those voters would not have supported Lee anyway. He's a natural choice for the all-powerfiul Asian vote.

The other takeaway from this election is that, once again, dirty campaigning and muck-throwing doesn't work. Avalos and Lee, who didn't do that, scored well. Yee and Herrera, who quickly resported to dirt, got punished. There's justice in that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

That is exactly what I thought! Thank you!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

In a previous post I saw this coming and said that the Progressives would soon propose that absentee votes only count as 1/2 a vote. At the time I thought it was a joke.

Why not just cut to the chase. Let's change the law so that: From now on, any vote cast for a Progressive Candidate shall count as 5 votes. Any vote cast for a Centrist should be valued at .75% of a vote and any vote cast for a Moderate or Conservative shall be ignored.

Posted by District 3 Vet on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

whenever the left loses (which, let's face it, is almost all the time), it's always because of voter fraud, corporate money or some other type of deus ex machina.

Libs never get that, in America, we don't do class warfare. And never will.

Thank you for your service.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

Is different than those who do not.

I think this has been known since the 80's at least.


The demographic of the Lee voter probably leans towards long time establised residents.

While the Avalos voter is here until they graduate college or have kids that hit school age.

It's not about getting out the mail in vote, because those people will never vote for Che.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

Has someone reached 50%?
26,000 votes in the bag, literally.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

I'm not calling the race. I'm simply saying that Lee looks poised to win. And I don't think absentee votes should be discouraged or counted less; I just think progressives have to be better about using an absentee strategy. The turnout was really low; there were thousands of progressives who didn't vote. If Avalos could have gotten them to vote by mail, he might have won.

Posted by tim on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

but strategic. He decided that he wasn't even going to try to address what voters said was the #1 issue - jobs. Avalos should have come out with some pro-business policies that would have convinced voters that he would attract inward investment.

Instead he droned on about local hire and even voted against the Twitter thing.

His socialist credentials may have remained intact but that doesn't get you elected in this town.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

Wish I knew what jobs Ed Lee was talking about.

All I see so far is plots by dot coms to get their hands on pension money.


"Henry Blodget, the former Wall Street analyst turned blogger, says he wouldn’t touch the Groupon IPO with a 50-foot pole.

Noisy CNBC stock tout Jim Cramer calls the Groupon IPO “the most hyped, most artificial deal I’ve ever seen since the dotcom era began.” He says if you can get the stock at the IPO price, buy it and then flip it right away, because “this is not something you want to own, and definitely not something you want to buy in the after market.”

The real reason Groupon exists is to line the pockets of a few early investors who have already been milking this company for all it is worth, selling off shares and even paying themselves handsome dividends even though the company has never generated a dime of profit.

Over the course of its history, Groupon has raised $1.1 billion in venture funding, but has paid out $942 million of that to insiders. Earlier this year, when Groupon raised $946 million in a venture round, only $136 million went to the company itself, while a staggering $810 million was used to buy shares from insiders.

In April 2010, Groupon raised $130 million in venture funding, only $10 million went to the company, and $120 million went to insiders. 

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

Groupon was the first social media IPO.

Twitter, Zynga, Facebook next. Wonder what the financial press will be saying?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:10 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

Oh wait. It is.

Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone Spams for Mayor Ed Lee


Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

I wonder if Ed Lee, David Chiu, Jane Kim, and all the rest who hyped up these tax breaks are going to get a cut of the IPO action. Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

"Wish I knew what jobs Ed Lee was talking about."

Jobs such as:
Central Subway
Treasure Island

Posted by CRS on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

Jobs for all of Willie Brown's developer friends, as well as the army of do-nothing hacks in city hall who are toasting the fact that they have their cushy jobs at our expense for another 4 years.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

The majority of these jobs (if these plans prevale, despite common sense) will NOT be held by SF residents. And many will NOT be union jobs but scab labor by out of city/county/state contractors who find ways around our city regulations.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

I thought all candidates knew this, including Avalos. If you have someone who wants to vote for you then by all means encourage him/her to file an absentee ballot. Why take a chance that they will forget to vote on Election Day or maybe even change their mind. If Avalos didn't do this then he ran a poor campaign which is reason to be concerned about his ability to manage a huge enterprise like the city.

Also, would it make any difference if the Lee voters who filed absentee had waited until election day to vote???

Posted by District 3 Vet on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

Low turnout elections can benefit any group that identifies its natural supporters and makes sure they vote. Even if the core progessive group is only 20-25% of the citywide electorate, if twice as many of them vote compared to the other 75-80%, progressives could win some of these challenging races.

Unlike most others who post here, for me it's not a catastrophic outcome that Ed Lee is mayor instead of Leland Yee or Dennis Herrera. I think it's kinda cool Chinatown Development Corp., Enrique Pearce, David Ho, Randy Shaw, Willie Brown and Rose Pak are important cogs in the Ed Lee universe. To get anything done they still have to work with politicians who most often represent my perspective: Eric Mar, Jane Kim, John Avalos, David Campos, Ross Mirkarimi, David Chiu, Jeff Adachi and his chief attorney Matt Gonzalez. CA Herrera and DA Gascon are no pushovers either. I'll take the odds on those match-ups.

There are a lot of difficult decisions to be made over the next few years. But San Francisco is miles ahead of most US cities in terms of its economy, wealth, human resources and a political class that connects with many important subgroups within the city. The city should do fine compared to the wretching financial traumas facing most cities, counties and many states.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

somehow win an election by some over-concentration of effort. The idea of democracy is that we are ruled by those whom most of us approve of.

So I am suspect about any effort to "skew" the vote, whether it's Lee's overly aggressive supporters or "progressives" being over-represented.

Any problem with the will of the people being neutrally represented?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

Effort = convincing someone to vote for your candidate = approval

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 2:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

Who is talking about the left? The guest above (maybe it was you, we're all guests) said that elections shouldn't be about a small group convincing people to vote, it should be about approval. I said that because voting = approval, convincing people to vote a certain way manufactures that approval and that is democracy. I don't know what the left has to do with this.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

to reach even one fifth of the vote. So the voters were not "convinced" that their interests were best served by an anti-business candidate.

Avalos should have known that, since it was well known that jobs was the #1 issue. But he didn't care.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

I vote absentee all the time due to disability and I'm 66 years old. But, I am a progressive and voted for Avalos. So I may not be in the majority of demographic there are progressive who vote absentee.

Another thing - I don't really like ranked choice voting, but I think it is here to stay. I just smacks of sneaky numbers manipulation. The example we all know is the Oakland mayor elections last year. The only good thing about it is that it supposedly saves money.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

I know the numbers will change, but my latest understanding is that of the 30% that actually bothered to vote, the split was roughly Lee 60%; Avalos 40%. Given Lee's advantage of incumbency, appointment and subsequent anointment by the machine, massive expenditure by suspect surrogates; etc, ad nauseam, all these and other things considered I feel reasonably satisfied and think we may have a chance locally to reverse some of the policies that are driving so many more regular folks to the brink of despair and destitution.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 09, 2011 @ 10:16 pm

"Lee...likes to call it 'the city family'. Others call it the "permanent government" of city department heads, union leaders, nonprofit chiefs and city commissioners who manage to survive every change in mayoral administrations."
"Vocal critics from the left...said Lee's ascension was a bloodless coup d'etat masterminded by Brown to seize the levers of city power, with Lee a puppet"
Time will tell.
First up probably a newly appointed D5 Supervisor.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 12:13 am