Rebecca Kaplan To Run For Mayor of Oakland With Cat Brooks In Ranked Choice Voting Ploy

Rebecca Kaplan’s doing what Oakland Mayoral Election Candidate Nancy Sidebotham said the Oakland At-Large Councilmember was going to do earlier this week: announcing she’s running for Mayor Of Oakland. She’s even got a logo saying so (look below). Plus, she’s teaming with Oakland Activist Cat Brooks.

Kaplan For Oakland Mayor Logo
Kaplan For Oakland Mayor Logo

In an email announcing her decision and sent to Zennie62Media today, Rebecca wrote that she’s planning a gathering at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 14th St, Oakland, CA and holding a talk “including Cat Brooks and Assemblymember Sandré Swanson, about the best way to help solve Oakland’s rising problems. We can, and must, take action to remedy the skyrocketing displacement and homelessness and illegal dumping, which the current administration is failing to implement solutions for, even when those solutions have been passed and funded by city council and requested by council and community.”

The email continues “Now is the time for progressive, effective leadership for Oakland. Rebecca Kaplan has acted to strengthen community unity and justice, expanded solutions for homelessness and to prevent displacement, for pro-active cleanup of illegal dumping, and to get guns off our streets. Together we can solve these problems and create a sustainable Oakland for all of us…Oakland continues to suffer from the worst air quality in the region and underfunding in regional decisions, and just lost representation in regional air board which gave us access to funding and solutions, due to motion by Mayor Schaaf to give away seat to another city.

But buried just beneath the news that Kaplan is running for Mayor of Oakland is the fact that Cat Brooks, whom she mentions in the email, is herself a candidate for the office currently held by Libby Schaaf. As this author has been a friend of and observer of Councilmember Kaplan for a long time, Ms. Brooks’ announced appearance at the planned event can only mean one thing: Kaplan and Brooks plan a ranked-choice voting team up, much like what Kaplan did with then-Oakland District Four Councilmember Jean Quan in 2010.

For the 2010 Oakland Mayoral Election (also called “The Oakland Mayor’s Race” on the street), Kaplan and Quan ran around town asking their supporters to vote for the other person as their second choice vote.

(If you’re unfamiliar with how Ranked-Choice Voting works, or why Oakland chose to do it, well, the idea was to allow minority voting blocks to have more of an impact on the outcome of a local race and to save money by avoiding the need for a primary election. Prior to Ranked-Choice Voting ‘s installation and employment in the same 2010 year, Oakland elections required a primary, and anyone candidates who did not emerge with a clear majority went on to the November election against the remaining candidates.

This system was facing pressure to change by many who wanted a way to insure that ‘fresh faces’ were more easily able to get elected. That was expected to happen in 2008, but the “old guard” of Alameda County Supervisor Don Perata and then-Oakland Councilmembers District Five’s Ignacio De La Fuente and District One’s Jane Brunner, and District Seven’s Larry Reid got re-elected. In 2010, the old-guard was defeated because of Ranked-Choice Voting.

Don Perata

Jean Quan

In 2010, Don Perata ran for Mayor Of Oakland under the new system; Kaplan and Quan teamed up. The result was that while Perata won 35 percent of the first-choice votes, it wasn’t enough to meet the 50 percent threshold that would insure that second and third choice votes that may have went to another candidate, did not toss Perata out of the victory column.

Because it was new, and the total voting rounds were not done, when the first results were released, some, like then-Oakland City Attorney and friend John Russo believed Perata had won. In one of our many video talks about Oakland and national politics, Russo said “there’s no way anyone can catch Perata. Jean Quan has the most second place votes so far, but the only way she could catch him was if she got two-thirds of all of the second place votes, and that ain’t gonna happen.”

Well, it happened. (John then called me and said “Zennie, take that video down, I was wrong.” I responded “John, you’re a genius: you called what could happen, and even though you said it would not, it did.)

As Kaplan throws her hat into the Oakland Mayoral Election ring for the third time (the charm?), one has to wonder if the team up can work with Cat Brooks, who’s not a known elected official? What Brooks needs is what she currently does not have and that’s national exposure. Kaplan has had it, but not to the extent of Mayor Schaaf by any measure. A quick look at Google Trends will show that.

Google Trends

Google Trends
Google Trends

If you compare Mayor Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan, and Cat Brooks, together and add California Governor Jerry Brown and California Liutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the resultant report shows that since June 17th 2017, Brown has the search intensity lead with 33, Newsom is at 19, Schaaf is at 4, and Brooks is at 1, whereas Kaplan surprisingly did not register even at one. But February of 2018 showed Mayor Schaaf overtaking Governor Brown, and thanks in no small measure to Trump’s personally blasting her on Twitter and in the traditional media for defying him on the sanctuary cities issue. The “Libby Schaaf Act” caused her rankings to rise again recently, but not to the lofty levels of earlier this year.

And we can’t forget that Libby accused President Trump of being racist on CNN’s Erin Burnett:

Still, the Google Trends map shows search for her in most of the 50 states – that’s a name recognition no previous Oakland mayor has enjoyed.

As Kaplan Enters The Race, Sports Becomes A Focus, As Does The Oakland Workers Strike…

What will be interesting about the new Oakland Mayoral Election, is that Kaplan, at some point, will bring the focus to sports in Oakland and what happened to its once great collection of professional sports teams. Here, in 2014, Rebecca said she saved the Oakland A’s for Oakland:

And that she called for a WNBA team for Oakland at my 2014 Oakland Sports Forum…

And that some City of Oakland workers said they would back her…

Will they will back her now?

Questions, Questions, Questions.

Another question is, with the current crop of front-running candidates (Schaaf, Kaplan, and Brooks) acting as if economic development and job training and under-employment are not a problem in Oakland, can a candidate step up or step in and make traction by focusing on that issue? The not-discussed contributor to the homeless problem in Oakland is a giant lack of jobs in industries that produce low-skilled yet high-wage positions. The kind Oakland used to have. I’ve said it before, and will say it again: Oakland’s forgotten how to do economic development. But I digress.

And what will the other candidates do? Of the list of challengers, which among Shelton Duncan, Ken Houston, Saied Karamooz, Kristina Molina, Nancy Sidebotham, Jesse A. J. Smith, Marchon Tatmom, Cedric Troupe, and Randolph Wilkins, will gain enough signatures to enter the official race to be Mayor of Oakland?

The other question is, with President Donald Trump focused on Libby Schaaf, along with an act called “The Libby Schaaf Act” by Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King, is the Mayor’s name recognition and new and growing image as defender of national progressive ideals, mostly because Trump focused on her, so great that she’s unbeatable? Some around town think so, but Kaplan and Brooks are going to give that idea a real test.

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