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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pension Reform Prop. B Helmed By Rookie Strategist Darcy Brown

Posted By on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 6:30 AM

Darcy Brown's first job as a San Francisco campaign consultant won't be an easy one
  • Darcy Brown's first job as a San Francisco campaign consultant won't be an easy one
On Monday, the Chronicle revealed that consultant Jim Stearns is being tapped to lead labor's charge against Jeff Adachi's Prop. B pension reform measure -- a move that was all but inevitable.

Stearns is labor and the progressives' strategist of choice. He can do mailers, he can do TV -- and, given a $1 million war chest, he can make a lot of San Francisco voters question the wisdom of corralling the city's runaway pension and healthcare costs by asking workers to contribute more. (If we don't see fliers and commercials featuring women and minorities saying Adachi's measure will make health care unaffordable for their kids -- well, we'd be very surprised).

Adachi won't have the benefit of a veteran, connected consultant -- or a seven-digit budget. The public defender told SF Weekly his campaign consultant is Darcy Brown, a former volunteer and then spokeswoman for his pension reform crusade. When asked when she last served as the strategist for a San Francisco election, she candidly replied "never."

Brown previously worked as a scheduler for Willie Brown in his successful re-election bid vs. Tom Ammiano. She was then a member of Brown's "office of recycling," Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval's chief of staff, and she ran Jared Huffman's successful Assembly run in Marin.

But a bare-knuckles political battle against the entire San Francisco labor movement and its beholden politicians? No, none of that. In fact, her website lists her expertise as "public and media relations for Bay Area businesses."

click to enlarge Jeff Adachi won't have labor's star consultant or budget
  • Jeff Adachi won't have labor's star consultant or budget
When asked if Brown was his first choice, Adachi simply said "She's a godsend. She's somebody who believes in the campaign 1,000 percent. She's somebody I've known and somebody I trust." He first met Brown because her mother was a former public defender, who served under Adachi's predecessor, Jeff Brown (no relation to Darcy Brown).

It warrants mentioning that signing up to work on Prop. B, a measure that has enraged both progressive and moderate unions and received not a single vote of support at at the local Democratic Party's endorsement meeting, might put something of a crimp in a campaign consultant's career future. When asked if she'd gotten the "you'll never work in this town again" speech, Brown replied, "Well, yeah, that's what I've heard."

Two other interesting things: When asked who makes the decisions in the campaign, her or Adachi, she replied "We're a team." And when queried about whether wealthy venture capitalist Michael Moritz will be showering hundreds of thousands of dollars on the pension reform campaign -- as he did during the signature-gathering effort -- she was uncertain.

So, this is Brown's first rodeo. And a campaign consultant reached by SF Weekly pointed out that it could be a rough one. San Franciscans will be voting absentee by early October, so a funding differential will be a handicap very quickly.

"No one else wanted to touch this. No one wanted to antagonize the Labor Council," said the consultant. "She is not a player, let's say that much. This is not another Jim Stearns."

No one is willing to call the election -- far from it. But, as our consultant put it, "One million dollars of antagonism in the next two months is a lot of antagonism."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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