Brown endorsement upends Oakland’s mayoral contest

The surging candidacy of Libby Schaaf, after a key endorsement from Oakland resident and California Governor Jerry Brown, has roiled Oakland’s mayoral landscape and created a new threat to Mayor Jean Quan’s reelection bid.

Quan was elected four years ago in an upset over former state Senate leader Don Perata. Quan’s upset victory was enabled in part by Oakland’s unique ranked-choice voting system.

Now, the controversial method that propelled Quan into office may help drive her from City Hall.

Ranked Choice Voting ( or an Instant Run-Off Voting system is controversial and complicated. It requires voters select their top three choices for mayor, thus eliminating the necessity for a primary election. Although this system aims to encourage a wider scope of candidates to run for office, many still find that the system simplifies the range in candidate arguments and as a whole, the arrangement generally unwieldy.

Enter OakMayor2014. Sponsored by Oakland developer and philanthropist, Phil Tagami, OakMayor2014 features “biographical information provided directly from candidates, voting information, and twice weekly presents candidates with a question” relevant to the office they seek, as well as FAQ section for the voting system. Additionally, the site commissioned an Oakland-based public opinion research firm, FM3, to conduct an opinion poll in which 1,012 respondents were asked to rank their top three choices for mayor. In order to focus on smaller groups of candidates, recent debates have utilized this poll to limit the number of participating candidates to those who had obtained a minimum of 5% of votes.

To our dismay, Einstein, the medium-sized shepherd mix turned political candidate, was not eligible to be included in this poll.

A new poll showed Schaaf surging to second-place behind Rebecca Kaplan. Quan had fallen to third in the poll.


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