With just over three weeks until Election Day, Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Charlie Michelson announced Sunday afternoon that he has suspended his campaign. The reason for his departure from the race, according to a message on Facebook, is a “deeply personal matter.”
“This was an incredibly hard decision to make, and I am saddened to let my supporters down. But for many reasons, it is the right decision for me and my family. I want to thank everyone, our supporters, the campaign team, our amazing volunteers, and of course all of you, for the support you’ve shown me these past few months. I’m proud of the campaign we ran,” wrote Michelson.
Despite the announcement, Michelson will remain on the Nov. 6 ballot, which began arriving this week in the mailboxes of many Oakland voters.
Michelson, had been viewed as one of the frontrunners in a strong field of candidates hoping to replace outgoing Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, who had endorsed his campaign. He was also backed by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Since the beginning of this year, Michelson raised a healthy $90,000 in campaign contributions, according to the latest finance records, and nearly half the amount in the past two months. In his statement, Michelson said he will seek to return any unspent funds to donors. As of Sept. 22, his campaign reported a cash balance of $52,000.
This isn’t the first time Oakland’s District 4 campaign has seen a well-financed frontrunners surprisingly jump at out of the race. In late July, just prior to the filing deadline, Chris Young, announced he was pulling out of the campaign after learning his wife was pregnant. At the time, Young was viewed as a frontrunner after raising $113,000 in fundraising. Like Michelson, Young was endorsed by Campbell Washington and Schaaf.
Just yesterday, the three women in the race–Pam Harris, Nayeli Maxson, and Sheng Thao–released a campaign video urging voters to select them first, second, or third on their ranked choice ballots. The move was intended to block Michelson. With Michelson exiting the race, it remains to be seen if the partnership will balkanized.
This is the direct result of Politicians understanding the impact of Ranked Choice Ballots. Michelson and Schaaf have not been successful at working with all the participants in Oakland politics. The influence of Libby Schaaf is waning. The three women Harris-Maxon-Thao have figured out how to appeal and Michelson and Schaaf have not.