Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson asserts today that if Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan jumps into the mayor’s race she will “siphon” votes that would otherwise go to Councilwoman Jean Quan. Johnson’s claim is not surprising since he is a longtime strong supporter of ex-state Senator Don Perata. His assertion also may be true for some progressives who would prefer Kaplan to Quan. But there’s also ample evidence that Kaplan will siphon votes from Johnson's favored candidate in the race.
For example, OakPAC, the influential political arm of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, endorsed Kaplan over Perata former aide Kerry Hamill in the 2008 council at-large race. And OakPAC chair Michael Colbruno, vice president of Clear Channel Outdoor, is a Kaplan supporter. Both are active members of the Bay Area’s gay and lesbian community. If Kaplan stays out of the race, Perata would be the odds on favorite to receive OakPAC’s sought-after endorsement, which could prove pivotal, because the group has a history of spending large sums helping elect the candidates it backs.
In addition, Kaplan has received past support from and is popular among smart-growth developers and advocates. The former longtime member of the AC Transit board of directors is a strong believer and backer of transit-oriented development. And if she does not jump into the race, many like-minded people might be more inclined to support Perata because of his longtime pro-development stance.