Kevin Johnson will learn tonight whether he'll have another run-off election for a second term as Sacramento mayor, or if he's locked in. (There's little chance he'd finish lower than No. 2, and thus be eliminated, on Tuesday. If he wins the primary election but receives less than 50 percent of the vote, he and the No. 2 finisher will go head-to-head in November. If he wins 50 percent of the vote, no run-off is necessary.)
Whatever happens Tuesday or in November, one thing is painfully obvious: KJ has been an amazing advocate for Sacramento Kings fans.
As someone who grew up in Sacramento and knows first-hand what sport can do for people, the sense of community it can build, the relationships it can foster, the leadership it can build, the hope it can share, KJ has been a tireless advocate for sensible solutions to keep pro sports in town and redevelop a downtown core that sorely needs a jolt in the process. The striking thing over the past four years to me is how quickly KJ saw through all of the fog, identified the real barriers to progress and hammered them down as best he could. Remember, when he came aboard in 2008, the NBA and John Moag were flailing about with a hopeless Cal Expo plan. KJ saw its demise coming, hastened it and plugged right on in to a downtown plan.
He clearly stunned both David Stern and the Maloofs with his efficacy: the Kings' owners basically agreed to stay if he could come up with a plan, obviously counting on him not getting a plan approved. He proved them wrong, and when it came time to pay up, the Maloofs turned their backs on KJ, Stern and Sacramento. We know now exactly what the barrier to a downtown arena is. There is absolutely no question whatsoever.
The stunning thing, considering the last 12 years of arena grousing, is that for once it's not the city of Sacramento.
The arena, the Kings and downtown are just a fraction of the mayor's focus in Sacramento, and I'm sure most voters (even in a low-turnout election with no contested presidential or U.S. Senate primaries) will be considering other items on the agenda when casting their vote for mayor. But Sactown Royalty is a community for Sacramento Kings fans, and it needs to be said that no mayor could possibly have done a better job than Kevin Johnson in advocating on our behalf. No candidate is more likely to help Sacramento keep pro sports. No candidate can match KJ on this issue.
If you care about the future of the Sacramento Kings — and since you're here, I reckon you do — you ought to keep this mind at the ballot box today.