When Supervisor Chris Daly tossed his hat into the ring for the low-profile, unpaid position of Democratic Party regional director last week, much of the ensuing media coverage focused on his history of polarizing behavior. In short, was this man constitutionally capable of handling a job that, essentially, calls for him to bring together various segments of the party and impartially organize meetings in which endorsements are decided?
Little was mentioned of Daly's opponent, six-year incumbent August Longo. Yet, as noted in apparently long-forgotten news stories, Longo was indicted 30 years ago in New York for impersonating three different doctors, filling out false credit-card and loan applications, and passing more than 40 bad checks — to the tune of $467,000. He pleaded guilty to nine counts of grand larceny and was convicted in 1981.
In 1984, Longo absconded from New York and skipped his probation to travel to California (he then didn't clear up his New York probation violation for 18 years). In California, he was convicted of felony credit card fraud in 1985, news reports say. Records indicate Longo was paroled in 1990, but violated it in '91 and went back to prison. He was paroled once more in '92, and began traveling in Democratic Party circles.
Longo said his criminal background was old news, and accused Daly of attempting to plant the story with "every paper in town." This came as a surprise, as Daly had not returned your humble narrator's calls since that one time in 2007.
"I've been vetted," said Longo, who is also a member of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission and a longtime ally of Willie Brown and John Burton. "The fact Chris Daly is trying to bring this up ... I think he can count the votes just like I can."
Our subsequent call to Daly was returned (!) — and he denied spreading stories about Longo's past. "I'm not going to run a negative race," he said. Fair enough — but his friends will. A Tuesday e-mail from San Francisco Democratic Club president Jonathan Wright — a friend and political ally of Daly's and an organizer at the Daly-friendly Service Employees International Union — urged delegates to "avoid voting for a convicted felon who spent 18 years evading justice for identity theft, bad check writing, and worse." Wright told SF Weekly the decision to write this e-mail was his alone, and he kept Daly in the dark.
The winner will be decided Saturday during the state party convention in Sacramento. It remains to be seen how thrilled anyone will be over either outcome.