In a liberal bastion like San Francisco, what Democratic candidate would want the support of the Republican Party?
Turns out, plenty.
Supervisors David Chiu and Ross Mirkarimi, and mayoral candidate Michela Alioto-Pier, to name a few. But as far as the mayor's race goes, only Tony Hall was lucky enough to get the endorsement of the local Republican Party.
But since Republicans are 9 percent of the vote, that could make a huge difference in a ranked choice election, which is why the Republican Party did something a little different this year -- it voted to support two more candidates, Joanna Rees and Mayor Ed Lee.
Lee wasn't looking for Republican support, but he's definitely got it in this election. Aside from this vote of confidence, Lee was also endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, and he's getting financial backing from Ron Conway, the Godfather of tech and a prominent Republican. Who's next to support him? The San Francisco Examiner?
"We look at who is running and who we could live with -- he is the lesser of two evils," says Harmeet Dhillon, chair of the local Republican Party. "It's hard for the Republican Party to endorse a Democrat, but it's to give our members guidance, and there is a good chance Republican voters will seriously consider our choices."
And that's not a bad thing, says Jim Ross, a local political consultant. While no bleeding-heart liberal wants to have "Republican" listed anywhere in their campaign materials, garnering those votes can make or break a candidate in ranked choice voting. In 1999, when Jim Lazarus ran for city attorney, he welcomed the Republican Party endorsement. But that came back to haunt him when his opponent, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, papered the town with literature asking voters if they truly wanted a "Republican" city attorney.
"After that, there was real trepidation on the part of many candidates to taking the Republican Party endorsement," Ross told us. "But maybe that's starting to evolve."
Just today Herrera, who is also running for mayor, released an ad that painted Lee as a conservative candidate. However, Lee's campaign spokesman, Tony Winnicker, fired back, telling SF Weekly "the most outrageous smear of the ad [are] the not-so-subtle GOP lapel pins suggesting that Mayor Lee, a lifelong Democrat, is helping Republicans."
"Just this month it was Dennis Herrera who, after his Central Subway flip flop, sided with Tea Party Republicans in Washington against Nancy Pelosi and federal transit funding for San Francisco."
Yet Herrera's "Tea Party position" still wasn't enough to earn him the Republican Party endorsement here.
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