Oakland Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf

OAKLAND | Sometime in August, Libby Schaaf found her groove. With less than three months before Election Day, Schaaf’s hardworking, technically advanced campaign had not yet found its voice. Late in the summer, The New York Times had a delivered a blow to Schaaf’s populist rhetoric when it described her as the candidate who “speaks to the city’s wealthy old guard, in leafy Oakland Hills.”

Sure, Schaaf’s “Made in Oakland” tagline was there from the start, but for some voters the real question was, which Oakland? The more affluent hills, or the rugged, overachieving flatlands?

The answer, ultimately, was both.

One August afternoon, following an outdoor luncheon in East Oakland, the infectious beat of the popular line-dancing track, “Cupid Shuffle” blared, “To the right. To the right. To the left.” Schaaf had been schooled on the dance’s intricate moves by her campaign manager Peggy Moore. “She picked it up real quick,” Moore said. Video of the dance showing that Schaaf had, indeed, mastered its moves, was uploaded to social media. Weeks later, the campaign released a campaign commercial with Schaaf interacting with Oakland residents and business owners—standard for most political ads—but with the off-beat ending of the narrator saying, “Because it’s hella time for leadership in Oakland.” It was also around this time that Schaaf began letting her hair down in public appearances and photos.