In the autumn of 1979, Biafra ran for mayor of San Francisco, using the Jell-O ad campaign catchphrase, "There's always room for Jello", as his campaign slogan. Having entered the race before creating a campaign platform, Biafra later wrote his platform on a napkin while attending a Pere Ubu concert where Dead Kennedys drummer Ted told Biafra, "Biafra, you have such a big mouth that you should run for Mayor." As he campaigned, Biafra wore campaign T-shirts from his opponent Quentin Kopp's previous campaign and at one point vacuumed leaves off the front lawn of another opponent, current U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, to mock her publicity stunt of sweeping streets in downtown San Francisco for a few hours. He also made a whistlestop campaign tour along the BART line. Supporters committed equally odd actions; two well known signs held by supporters said "If he doesn't win I'll kill myself" and "What if he does win?"
In San Francisco any individual could legally run for mayor if a petition was signed by 1500 people or if $1500 was paid. Biafra paid $900 and got signatures over time and eventually became a legal candidate, meaning he received statements put in voters' pamphlets and equal news coverage.
His platform included unconventional points such as forcing businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits, erecting statues of Dan White (who assassinated Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978) all over town and allowing the parks department to sell eggs and tomatoes with which people could pelt them, hiring out of job workers, due to a tax initiative, to become pan handlers in wealthy neighborhoods (one being where Diannne Feinstein lives), and a citywide ban on cars (although the latter point was not considered completely outlandish by many voters at the time, as the city was suffering from serious pollution). Biafra has expressed irritation that these parts of his platform attained such notoriety, preferring instead to be remembered for serious proposals such as legalizing squatting in vacant, tax-delinquent buildings and requiring police officers to keep their jobs by running for election voted by the people of the neighborhoods they patrol.
He finished fourth out of a field of ten, receiving 3.79% of the vote (6,591 votes); the election ended in a runoff that did not involve him (Feinstein was declared the winner).