Jean Quan Oakland’s New Mayor

Mark Laluan

Attorney General race still undecided

Jean Quan, pictured here speaking at the gay pride parade earlier this year, is slated to become Oakland's Steward

Two weeks after Election Day, final results for California’s “close contests” are proving elusive.

The office of the California Secretary of State defines a “close contest” as “a contest in which there is less than a 2 percent difference between first and second place.”

The statewide race for attorney general and the races for two of California’s congressional districts continue to elicit speculation as the ballot returns continue to be counted.

The race between Republican Steve Cooley and Democrat Kamala Harris for state attorney general continues to swing back and forth between the two candidates over the lead.

As of Nov. 15, Harris leads Cooley by approximately 14,000 votes, with over 893,000 ballots yet to be processed.

In the 11th Congressional District, which stretches from the South Bay to the Central Valley, Democratic incumbent Jerry McNerney is leading Republican David Harmer by 1,688 votes. In the Central Valley’s 20th Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Jim Costa leads Republican Andy Vidak by 1,107 votes.

Regionally, Oakland will have its first female mayor in the person of current Oakland City Councilmember for the 4th District, Jean Quan. She will be the first Asian-American woman to lead a major American city.

Ranked choice voting (RCV) played a crucial role in Quan’s upset win over former State Senator Don Perata, with the final tally showing Quan with 53,778 votes to Perata with 51,720 votes.

Known as instant-runoff voting internationally, RCV is used by such nations as Australia to elect members of its lower house and by cities all across the United States to elect officials.

When asked what were the benefits of RCV, CSU East Bay political science professor Dr. David Baggins said, “It saves considerable money. Run-off elections are all local funds. With a high name-recognition candidate like Perata, everyone voting for someone else was also voting against him. It’s thus not surprising that if he didn’t initially win out-right, he lost in the second count.”

RCV works by: voters selecting candidates in order of preference, assigning them a first preference, a second preference, a third preference and so on. The candidate with a 50 percent plus 1 majority of first choice votes will be declared the winner.

In the event that no candidate attains a majority, the candidate with the fewest number of first preference votes is eliminated.

Next, the candidate’s votes are then transferred to the remaining candidates, according to the next preference on each ballot until someone receives a majority of first preference votes and thus, is declared the winner.

Quan managed to triumph over Perata by accumulating a large number of second preference votes.

Quan and the third-place candidate, Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan, both encouraged their supporters to vote for the other as their second choice, thereby undercutting Perata’s ability to gain votes in the event either Quan or Kaplan was eliminated from the race.

“We’ve been waiting over 200 years to have an Asian American woman as mayor of a major American city,” Quan said, in a statement to her supporters in front of Oakland City Hall. “And we’ve been waiting about four years to get ranked-choice voting. This is a race people are going to be studying for a long time.”

Mayor-Elect Quan will inherit a $50 million deficit from outgoing Democratic Mayor Ron Dellums and increasing levels of violent crime that plague Oakland’s streets.

Final results for all races must be certified by each county by Nov. 30. All candidates will then have five days to request recounts on a county-by-county basis.