Newsom re-elected as San Francisco mayor
Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Mayor Gavin Newsom promised to make quick work of cementing San Francisco’s reputation as a cutting-edge city after voters overwhelmingly elected him to a second term.
Addressing supporters at the city’s historic Ferry Building, Newsom, a Democrat best-known for opening City Hall to same-sex weddings six weeks into his first term, said he looked forward to advancing an even more innovative agenda during the next four years.
“I am the first to say to you, as exciting and vibrant as this city is, as great as we are, we could still do so much more,” said the mayor, who was re-elected Tuesday after eclipsing a field of candidates that included a colorful cast of characters but no serious rivals.
“I have four more years to do an even better job than we did the first four years,” he added.
Despite low voter turnout and an equipment snafu that prevented election officials from releasing results from any polling places, an early absentee ballot count gave Newsom an insurmountable lead over his nearest opponent.
With nearly 45,000 absentee ballots tallied in the mayor’s race ” about 41 percent of the total votes cast ” unofficial returns showed Newsom with 77.5 percent of the vote compared to 7 percent for flower shop owner Harold Hoogasian, the lone Republican in the nonpartisan race.
Community activist Wilma Pang was third with about 6 percent.
Newsom needs a little more than a third of the 65,000 remaining votes left to count to get a majority and avoid a runoff.
“Gavin Newsom won tonight. It’s statistically impossible for him to be put in a runoff,” said Eric Jaye, Newsom’s chief campaign strategist. “He won the race, and he won it overwhelmingly.”
Jaye said he did not expect the mayor’s margin of victory to decline much once all the votes are counted. That process could take several days because the Secretary of State required the city’s Department of Elections to hand-inspect every ballot over concerns about the reliability of the city’s voting machines.
If Jaye’s prediction holds up, it will be the most decisive win for a San Francisco mayor since 1983, when Dianne Feinstein, now California’s senior U.S. senator, ran without a noteworthy opponent.
Turnout on Tuesday was low ” about 26 percent, according to city elections officials ” probably because of Newsom’s perceived invincibility, along with little or no opposition for the city’s incumbent sheriff and district attorney, both of whom cruised to easy victories.
Tuesday’s victory capped a tumultuous year for Newsom, 40, who in February admitted having a drinking problem and an affair with his campaign manager’s wife. The personal disclosures never hurt his approval ratings, which rarely dipped below 70 percent during his four years in office.
The mayor, who is active in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, also lucked out when several current and former elected officials who had considered challenging him decided against it.
That left Newsom facing 11 candidates who were either political unknowns or San Francisco-style fringe candidates, such as a sex club owner, a homeless taxi driver and a nudist rights activist. Another six candidates qualified as official write-in candidates.
Quintin Mecke, a community activist making his first bid for elective office, had been considered the mayor’s leading opponent after having secured endorsements from several elected officials and political clubs that think Newsom is too conservative. But the early vote count showed Mecke trailing both Hoogasian and Pang, with about 3 percent of the vote.
Videographer Josh Wolf, who spent a record-setting 226 days behind bars for refusing to give federal investigators footage of a chaotic 2005 street protest, captured less than 1 percent of the absentee vote.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is part of the left-wing block of the city’s lawmaking body that has often crossed swords with Newsom, said that between the low turnout and lack of a dynamic challenger, no one should be surprised by the mayor’s decisive win.
“We all knew he would be handily re-elected,” Peskin said. “Come Wednesday, we have a lot of work to do.”
Associated Press Writer Louise Chu contributed to this story.
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