By Will Harper
There were a lot of interesting story lines in the contentious election for chair of the Democratic County Central Committee the other night. But what I think we can say we all learned from it is that, at least in the case of two supervisorial wannabes, political ambition trumps friendship and loyalty.
As political junkies know by now (and, let’s face it, addicts like us are the only ones who give a shit about this stuff), Aaron Peskin narrowly defeated incumbent chair Scott Wiener by a vote of 18-16. Earlier this month, Wiener told SF Weekly reporter Joe Eskenazi that he had enough votes to win re-election. So what happened? In an email to the Snitch, Wiener confirmed what his consultant told the Chronicle: Two of his fellow committee members--and his close friends--who had promised their support to him before, switched their votes after getting political pressure.
The two backstabbers in question are David Chiu and David Campos, who are both not so coincidentally running for supervisor in District 3 and District 9 respectively. That’s relevant since Chris Daly threatened anyone who voted for Wiener instead of Peskin with political execution.
When Chiu cast his vote for Peskin, he prefaced it by saying that it was meant “as no disrespect to Scott.” Oh, David--of course not. We all know you can betray someone and still respect them.
Chiu definitely went into the night with divided loyalties. On one hand, Wiener was the one who originally appointed him to the DCCC in 2006 when Sue Bierman passed away. On the other hand, Chiu is running to succeed Peskin as the supervisor for District 3 and he needs Peskin’s backing to win.
But Peskin certainly doesn’t have the same personal history with Chiu as Wiener does. Chiu was a year ahead of Wiener at Harvard Law School in the ‘90s and the two have been friends for a decade.
After the meeting ended Wednesday night, Chiu was evasive when I asked him whether he’d gotten any pressure to vote for Peskin. Both sides advocated their perspectives, Chiu said. When I asked him whether Peskin’s endorsement played any role in his decision, Chiu noted that he both Wiener and Peskin had endorsed him.
Yeah, but doesn’t the endorsement of the incumbent in the district you’re running in carry more weight? I asked.
Chiu response: “I’m not going to comment on that.” (In other words, “Yes.”)
And then there’s Campos. Wiener says he and Campos also went to Harvard Law from 1993-1996. Oh, and Wiener says he also served on Campos’ campaign committee for supervisor, and emceed his campaign kickoff event.
In the Chron story today, Campos refused to answer whether he switched his vote.
The two Davids weren’t the only erstwhile Wiener allies who ditched him. Former Public Utilities Commission chief Susan Leal, standing in as Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s proxy, also inserted her own dagger. Before the final vote, Leal told the crowd she had hesitated when Ma first asked her to be the Assemblywoman’s proxy. After all, she knew and liked Wiener. But, Leal said, when Mayor Gavin Newsom pushed her out of her job at the PUC, Peskin stood by her so she was going to cast her vote (or, technically, Ma’s vote) for Peskin. (Translation: This is payback for Newsom, who is supporting Wiener.)
During Wiener’s concession speech, he looked directly at Leal and said that he had proudly stood by her when she ran for mayor.
Afterward, Leal went up to Wiener and shook his hand with a limp smile and stared him in the eye—in silence. Then she walked away. “People continue to disappoint me,” Wiener sighed.
The winners, meanwhile, were reasonably gracious and urged everyone to move on so they could all work together and blah blah blah. But as well all know, that ain’t how this politics shit works. Sometimes in politics you find out who your real friends are. Scott Wiener found out the other night and I suspect this ambitious young pol won’t be forgetting who fucked him over anytime soon.