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San Francisco votes for incumbent mayor

DESPITE A grass-roots revolt aimed at returning San Francisco to the radical politics of the 1970s, mayor Willie Brown cruised to an easy re-election victory yesterday over his challenger Tom Ammiano. With the city's liberal establishment and new generation of Internet millionaires behind him, Mr Brown captured almost 60 per cent of the vote.

Mr Ammiano, who entered the race just a few weeks ago on a tide of public discontent, conceded defeat but said that his coalition of aggrieved tenants, Latino workers, students, and gays and transsexuals had made sure their voices would not go unheard in future. "My voice may be high. I may be gay. My politics may be left, but we are right," said Mr Ammiano, who would have been the first openly homosexual mayor of a large American city.

At the heart of the election was San Francisco's transformation from a hip, ruggedly individual haven from theconformity of middle America, into a bright, affluent magnet for the Internet revolution. Mr Brown, who has impeccable credentials as one of the country's leading liberal Democrats, was accused of doing too little to temper the tide of new money, allowing real estate speculation and chain stores to force thousands of lower-income residents to leave the city.

In the end, Mr Brown lined up an intimidating array of special interest groups on his side, wooing not only the Democratic Party establishment, but the Republicans too. Some African American groups complained of intimidation by the mayor's re-election staff, but it appears they turned out to vote for him anyway.