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Sheriff Rages Against the Ed Lee Machine 

Wednesday, May 20 2015
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Ross Mirkarimi can't stop talking about "The Machine." The incumbent sheriff kicked off his re-election campaign last week by raging against the Ed Lee machine that has dogged Mirkarimi since his first days in office, when he was hit with domestic violence charges over an altercation with his wife.

"I make no apologies that I'm not part of any machine," he boasted to a crowd of loyal supporters at the Delancey Street Restaurant on the Embarcadero, before delineating his progressive credentials. If elected, Mirkarimi says he wants to work to stop the criminalization of poverty, improve care for the mentally ill, and bring about structural reform of the bail system.

But he's most likely not going to be re-elected. The domestic violence incident made Mirkarimi toxic, and recent scandals involving sheriff's deputies forcing inmates to fight at the county jail and the recent escape of a prisoner have made the sheriff radioactive. While former elected officials such as Art Agnos and Carole Migden turned out to speak passionately for Mirkarimi's candidacy, not a single current officeholder was in sight.

Mirkarimi may hate the machine, but he's become a part of it. He's the tool the machine uses to punish his friends (deployed effectively by the Lee-Ron Conway nexus in campaign materials against Christina Olague and David Campos), which is probably why no friends with any hope of a political future showed up to eat canapes with him on that Wednesday night.

Asked whether he believes his re-election campaign is damaging the prospects of other progressives seeking office, Mirkarimi responded (via text message) by describing "the punishment being exacted or leveraged by the mayor and his billionaire friends"—aka "The Machine."

About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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