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Neither Kamala Harris nor Terence Hallinan will get a boost from Bill Fazio as they court voters for the Dec. 9 runoff. “I am not endorsing in the district attorney’s race,” the former DA candidate announced Tuesday. After conducting independent research on Harris and Hallinan’s histories and platforms, Fazio said, he couldn’t find a compelling reason to endorse either one. “I don’t feel it’s a cop-out,” Fazio said. “I wasn’t going to endorse in a negative way,” he said, by picking one candidate because of something negative about the other. “An endorsement should be a positive reflection of what a candidate has to offer.” Although it was not enough to make the runoff, Fazio received nearly a third of the vote in the general election. Both of his former opponents were vying for his support. “It seems that I’m the most popular loser at any time in my political career,” said Fazio, noting he has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails about his decision. Last week, Richard DeLeon, a political science professor at San Francisco State University, deemed Fazio’s potential backing the most important of any one person in the runoff for DA. “He’s a very familiar face with a solid constituency that’s been pretty stable through the three elections,” DeLeon said, referring to Fazio’s campaigns this year and in 1999 and 1995. But San Francisco pollster David Binder took a more measured view of the endorsement’s importance. “In races of high visibility such as this, like mayor and DA, what we usually find is that voters don’t rely that much on other people’s recommendations,” Binder said last week. “I don’t think Fazio endorsing Hallinan or Harris, either one, will bring votes directly to them.” But endorsements in such races, Binder said, may motivate voters to at least look at the reason for the support. Harris said she had no reaction to Fazio’s lack of an endorsement. Although Hallinan was hoping for Fazio’s backing, “no endorsement is better than endorsing our opponent,” said Laurie Beijen, the incumbent’s campaign spokeswoman. Fazio offered both candidates his help after the election, he said. But the former prosecutor said he’s not interested in rejoining the DA’s office. “I was not offered a job, and to set the record straight, I [would] not accept a job,” said Fazio, who runs a solo criminal defense shop. “If [Hallinan or Harris] were to call me tomorrow and say, ‘Bill, I want you to come back to the office,’ I would respectfully decline.” Though neither candidate locked in Fazio, a flurry of endorsements has continued to accumulate. Hallinan’s include columnist-turned-gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington; supervisor and recently defeated mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano; the California Nurses Association; the “urban environment group” San Francisco Tomorrow; former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss; and Kitty Kastro, who hosts a local cable TV show for transsexuals. Harris has lengthened her list with San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, the San Francisco Deputy Probation Officers Association, the Chinese American Democratic Club, Small Property Owners of San Francisco, the United Administrators of San Francisco and the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council. Each campaign can say it’s attracted at least some Fazio support. James Lazarus, who ran for city attorney in 2001 and endorsed Fazio in the general election, is backing Harris for the runoff. And Hallinan’s campaign hired its second former Fazio staffer, Parrish Spisz, who began volunteering for Hallinan after the general election. In at least two polls taken about a week after that vote, Harris was leading Hallinan by varying margins. One gave Harris a lead of 8 percentage points, while the other put her and Hallinan just about neck-and-neck. In a poll conducted by Binder for downtown business groups and trade associations, 45 percent of 600 “likely” voters went for Harris, 37 percent chose Hallinan and 18 percent were undecided. The results, gathered Nov. 10 through Nov. 13, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, Binder said. In another poll, conducted by Survey�USA for local CBS TV affiliate KPIX, 51 percent of 486 “certain” voters went for Harris while 48 percent went for Hallinan. While the challenger led by 3 percentage points, her lead fell within the 4.6 percentage point margin of error, and SurveyUSA deemed the race too close to call. Its poll was taken from Nov. 11 through Nov. 13. A Hallinan spokeswoman agreed the race is close, but questioned SurveyUSA’s computerized polling methods. “I don’t think that the KPIX poll has much validity,” said Beijen. Hallinan campaign manager Sueanne McNeil took part in the poll when the computer called campaign headquarters, but she was never asked if she was registered to vote at the headquarters’ address, Beijen said. “They could have been polling people who don’t even live in the city.” And the percentage of undecided voters struck Beijen as oddly low — 2 percent of certain voters. “You can ask what color the sky is and you’d get more than 2 percent undecided,” Beijen said. SurveyUSA defended its methods. Businesses are screened from a random sample of phone numbers, using a list that’s updated quarterly, said Joseph Shipman, director of election polling. Campaign headquarters open so quickly they don’t get in the phone book, but the computer survey asks the person who answers the phone if he or she lives in the city, he said. And SurveyUSA’s questions almost always result in an undecided bloc of 5 percent or less, Shipman added, because the company offers the “undecided” choice last, after a pause. “If you give ‘undecided’ too quickly,” Shipman said, “some people are lazy and they don’t want to do the mental work.”

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