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Name Your Poison: Ross Mirkarimi Fights Against Tough Odds and a Well­ Named Foe 

Wednesday, Jan 7 2015
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City Hall denizens who spotted Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi speaking at a Kwanzaa event there last month summed up his attendance as the sort of thing a politician running for re-election is obliged to do.

Well, they were half right. "I go to every Kwanzaa event," Mirkarimi explains. But he is running for re-election: "I am an enthusiastic candidate."

Others are enthusiastic, too. "We get to use him for another year," crows a moderate political strategist. "Having him around keeps the domestic violence issue alive."

Three years ago, Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a charge of false imprisonment following a dispute in which he grabbed his wife by the arm, leaving a bruise.

Mayor Ed Lee's campaign to drive Mirkarimi from office has proven to be a political gift that keeps on giving. Votes to save Mirkarimi's skin helped keep Supervisor Jane Kim out of the running for board president, crushed Supervisor David Campos' bid for Assembly, and directed erstwhile Supervisor Christina Olague into private life. The latter two were targeted by vitriolic independent-expenditure campaigns, funded by Lee allies in the tech community, that lashed the doomed candidates to Mirkarimi.

And so, Mirkarimi's own campaign figures to be an exceedingly nasty affair fought on unforgiving terrain against well-armed and deeply entrenched forces; think of it as the Pickett's Charge of San Francisco politics.

Don't be surprised to see slate mailers out in the avenues connecting Lee to Mirkarimi's opponent, longtime Sheriff's Deputy Vicki Hennessy.

And, in facing off against Hennessy, Mirkarimi is dealing with one additional obstacle. His opponent is blessed with a name that carries some weight in San Francisco political circles.

Or at least a name that sounds like such a name.

Prior to Mirkarimi assuming the post in 2012, Michael Hennessey served as sheriff for an unprecedented 32 years. Voters, to put it mildly, are rather used to seeing the name "Hennessey" on the ballot under "sheriff."

"That's points," says a longtime San Francisco political strategist with regards to Vicki Hennessy's moniker. "That's points for sure. This is a low-information environment and some voters will certainly go for her." Others may assume she's the wife or daughter of the beloved Michael Hennessey (she's neither and spells her name differently). Even Mirkarimi concedes that his opponent's name "certainly doesn't hurt."

The actual Michael Hennessey, per Mirkarimi, "has already endorsed my re-election."

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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