Call it the curse of the HBO special. Last week, in a plot twist few political observers saw coming, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs conceded defeat to Republican challenger Kevin Lincoln in his bid for a second term.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as Mayor of my hometown,” Tubbs said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud of the work we accomplished together as a community.”
Tubbs is a rising star in politics, who captured the attention of national media and movie producers. He became the city’s youngest mayor in 2016 with over 70% of the vote. He implemented the first city-led Universal Basic Income program in the country. He’s been in Forbes Magazine and gets shout outs from Oprah.
That stardom may have played a part in his stunning loss. Critics have accused him of being more interested in national politics than the situation in Stockton. They chided him for spending too much time away from home.
Tubbs was also the subject of a vicious social media campaign that was able to flourish, some say, because of the growing void in local news. His challenger was a charismatic figure too — the pastor of a local church. Like Tubbs, Lincoln is a young African American. He’s a former U.S. Marine who worked for George W. Bush. He ran on a platform of unity, government reform, and addressing the city’s homeless crisis.
The race wasn’t particularly close. Tubbs lost by 12.4 points… to a Republican… in a city that went 14.13 points for Joe Biden.
Despite his defeat, no one believes this is the end of the road for Tubbs. It may even open more doors.
“He should not be written off,” Democratic political consultant Steve Maviglio told the L.A. Times. “The guy reminds me of Bill Clinton. He, like Bill Clinton, had a very tough loss ... but I think he’s super smart, super energetic, well-liked — apparently not by the voters of Stockton — but well-liked in the policy groups and political circles.”
Tubbs could very well end up in Washington, D.C. soon. He acknowledges he’s spoken to family about the prospect. With a new Democratic administration coming to the White House, now’s the perfect time.