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Don Perata concedes mayoral race, will not contest results

on November 11, 2010

At a Thursday morning press conference, former state senator Don Perata conceded defeat in the race for Oakland mayor, saying that he was disappointed with the outcome of Oakland’s first ranked-choice election but would not contest the results.

Perata gave the press conference from a podium in front of the Oakland Police Department’s Eastmont substation. Though Perata campaign organizers handed out fact sheets to reporters that claimed there had been voter confusion over Oakland’s inaugural ranked-choice voting experience, Perata said he believed it was a fair election. “The results are pretty clear,” Perata said. “I have no quarrel with the way the election was conducted.”

Under the rules of ranked-choice voting, voters rank their top three choices for mayor on the ballot. First-choice votes are tallied, and if no candidate receives a majority—more than 50 percent of the vote—then the last-place candidate is eliminated. The ballots that ranked an eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their second choice counted instead. The process continues until one candidate reaches a majority and officially wins the election.

Though Perata led in first-choice votes after Election Day by a wide margin, city council member Jean Quan vaulted to the lead after the second and third-choice votes were redistributed. Perata said he was proud to have the support of the plurality of Oakland voters that selected him as their first-choice. “It’s an honor and a privilege to have received the most first-choice votes in this election,” Perata said.

Perata said that he had not yet called mayor-elect Jean Quan to offer congratulations, but said that he would do so in the future.

The long-awaited announcement of a winner in Oakland’s mayoral race came on Wednesday night after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters updated its totals to include previously uncounted provisional ballots. The revised totals showed city council member Jean Quan in the lead with 50.98 percent of votes to Perata’s 49.02 percent. According to the registrar’s office, Quan holds a lead of 2,058 votes over Perata, and though the result is not yet certified, Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald said that the remaining outstanding ballots are “not enough to change the outcome.”

After Wednesday’s final tally, Macdonald said that the last step for the election is the result’s official authorization later this month.  Despite the closeness of the vote, there will be no automatic recount. “In California, there is no provision for an automatic recount,” Macdonald said. “Of course, anybody can request it.”

On Thursday morning, Perata said that he would not initiate a recount, praising Macdonald and his staff for delivering a timely and accurate result. “[Macdonald] seemed to go out of his way to make sure no stone was left unturned, no chad was left hanging,” Perata said, referring to the ballot confusion that spurred the recount in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

Perata said that he has no plans to run for office again.  He expressed an interest in staying active in Oakland politics in the future, lending his help to Quan or governor-elect Jerry Brown should they request it.  For now, he said, he’ll remain an Oaklander. “I will step back into the role of citizen to do whatever I can do to make this city a better place,” Perata said. “It’s a great city and it deserves the best.  I wish it well.”

Check out all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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  1. paul on November 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I would like to request a recount since anyone can request it. While I am at it I would like to request that Oakland go back to one vote per voter per office and the one with the most votes wins. Pretty simple, no runoff nor ranked choice BS.

    • Cynthia Gorney on November 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      You could request it, Paul, but then you’d have to pay for it! $5K up front plus $1500/day. (It would actually be interesting to find out whether an outside citizen can request a recount if he/she truly is willing to put up the money…bet that’s something hasn’t been tested and is not likely to be.)

  2. Michael Bedar on November 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Let us remember the main reason for ranked choice is the will of the people, as I see it. I think it is a good thing.

    It was first described to me as a way to break the lock that the 2 party-system has on elections, and therefore on ideas of governance. If a lot of people have their third party preference, and there are 5 such alternate parties, then that means many people may prefer an alternate party’s platform over the narrow dominant parties’ platforms, even if it isn’t their own party. But these people are all split up. So, ranked choice gives us a real to come together to shift the debate out of the carefully controlled box of reds and blues.

    I am all for what the people showed in Oakland – that they’d prefer Quan or Kaplan to Perata, the candidate with the most machinery, and it took the unifying of the people – facilitated by the ranked choice election system – to bring about the closest thing to the people’s will.

    I hope the ranked choice system’s strength is boosted by Oakland’s outcome and is used in national elections in our generation for the same reason.

  3. Jim Ratliff on November 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Paul, the reason to have any kind of runoff (whether the two-stage or instant) is because the essence of democracy is MAJORITY rule, not PLURALITY rule. Without a runoff, Perata would have been elected with only 34% of the votes.

    Based on the preferences expressed by voters in the actual election, 51% of voters preferred Quan to Perata. That’s a majority. It would subvert democracy to install Perata over the wishes of the majority.

  4. Lee on November 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    RIP Don, we won’t have to endure your corrupt act in our town – I decided to vote for Quan when I received the mailer to “Vote for anybody but Quan” – enough of your dirty politics!

  5. Benjamin Home on November 11, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    May god help us, before Quan destroys us. Her entire platform is decimating what is left of public safety, and supporting and campaigning for failed violence prevention programs. Wake up Mayor Quan, I do not feel safe in the comfort of my own home. You should change that once you get into office immediately. (and I don’t mean by creating another after-school baseball league for troubled young people.)

    Bring back public safety, trim down the bureaucracy down at city hall, and contribute to your OWN retirement you hypocritical politician.

  6. […] expressed his distaste for the process loudly and clearly Thursday morning at a press conference he held to discuss the outcome of the election. He handed out a list to attendees that included ten […]

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