Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, November 19, 2010

San Francisco's Political Winners and Losers

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Once again, San Francicans gave Gavin what he wanted...
  • Once again, San Francicans gave Gavin what he wanted...

With all of San Francisco's races decided, there's no excuse to not weigh in on who shat and who was shat upon in this electoral season. Other than the fact that San Francisco politics, like radium, slowly kills you over time by rotting your insides and making you hollow. So there's that.


Gavin Newsom: San Francisco's erstwhile mayor fulfilled his longtime desire to get out of San Francisco politics. Following his bizarre meltdown after his gubernatorial campaign fizzled, would you have thought it out of the question for Newsom to go out in a blaze of glory atop City Hall while shouting "Top of the world, Ma!"? We'd have been shocked. But not surprised. And now Newsom is our lieutenant governor. Well played, sir.

David Chiu: The Board of Supervisors president will be joined by his friend and former roommate Jane Kim and was the only supe to endorse incoming D-10 supe Malia Cohen. Considering the shenanigans already under way in naming Newsom's successor -- and how Chiu stands to gain as de facto "acting mayor" if no clear choice arises -- this is good news for him. It's also likely that Kim and Cohen will help stave off the Chris Daly-led "purge" that could oust Chiu as board president -- and, perhaps, acting mayor.

Asian voting blocs: As we noted in our cover story, Jane Kim had more going for her other than brains, looks, a nice resume, and an influential former roommate. Asian voters are, finally, a force to be reckoned with. This was also demonstrated by Marlene Tran nearly pulling off a victory in District 10, despite -- really -- not running a campaign. 

Brian Wilson: Really, how cool is it for the mayor to suggest you take his job -- which then allows you to make a joke about a gimp mask-wearing killer in front of 1 million adoring fans?


click to enlarge Sigh
  • Sigh
The Democratic County Central Committee:First thing's first -- the next Board of Supervisors won't be significantly less left-leaning than the current board. Though it will be less crazy. So the victories of Kim, Cohen, Scott Wiener, and Mark Farrell don't mark the utter repudiation of the DCCC some have said it does. And yet, it warrants mentioning that the DCCC endorsement really was the political kiss of death this year. Yes, Cohen getting a second place over Tony Kelly probably won it for her in D-10. But if that's your silver lining -- then you're in the midst of a very dark cloud.

Is the DCCC more looney-left than San Francisco's populace at large? Perhaps. It's hard to say. I chalk up their shellacking, to use the parlance of our times, to two big factors: No massive Obama turnout to run to the polls and vote the Democratic ticket; and labor obsessed with beating Prop. B at the cost of everything else.

The Guardian: The paper tried to paint a rosy picture of how everything it endorsed turned to shit this year by redefining the meaning of the terms "win" and "lose." Yes, the incoming supes aren't right-wing lunatics. They're still not the people you urged voters to put into office. Yes, the districts in play this time around skew a bit to the right. Voters still blew their nose with the Guardian's suggestions. Essentially, the Guardian is the gambler who loses all the money he has set as his limit to lose -- and then calls that a semblance of a victory.

Long-term San Franciscans: In part because of the defeat of Prop. B, which would have mandated city workers to make greater contributions to their pensions and health care, the city's credit rating was knocked down this week. "The defeat in the election earlier this month of a local pension and health care cost control measure suggests that little near-term fiscal improvement is likely to result from external political pressure," explains the report. Good call. That means the city's bonds must be paid back at higher interest rates. Which brings us to:

Winners and Losers

Aaron Peskin: As the head of the DCCC, Peskin is the man to kick when the organization is down. Fair enough. But Peskin is far too bright to put all his eggs in one basket. He personally endorsed the political neophyte Cohen -- so, you know, she may yet call him up and ask his advice on things. Yes, the moderates made Peskin radioactive, and essentially killed his chances for being our interim mayor (which was compounded when most of his candidates lost). But they didn't put a stake in his heart and chop off his head, so he's still alive politically.

click to enlarge Back to the laywering, Adachi
  • Back to the laywering, Adachi
Labor: The city's unions demanded -- and received -- the support of every city politician in their quest to unseat Prop. B. They held large rallies, downed forests for cavalcades of mailers, ran television ads, and put bodies on the streets. It was, truly, a vulgar display of power. And they proved, as if it needed proving, that they do run this town.

And yet, as noted above, labor's singular fixation on Prop. B spelled certain victory for Prop G (Fix Muni Now), Prop. J (Union-friendly hotel tax), and Prop. L (Sit-lie). And while the unions did put serious money into several "progressive" candidates, you'd have to think that without Prop. B on the ballot, they could have done more. And those candidates lost, by the way.

Finally, while labor is treating vanquishing Prop. B  -- boldly convincing San Francisco voters to do nothing, really -- as a major victory, the massive pension and healthcare bills the measure purported to address are real and are getting worse. They will have to be dealt with, and soon. If only glossy mailers could solve the city's billion-dollar morass.

Jeff Adachi: Prop. B's author didn't blow up his progressive bridges. He vaporized them. He'll be public defender for as long as he wants, but that's not the issue. If he ever wanted to use pension reform as a pole vault into higher office -- that's going to have to wait. But, a few years down the road, when San Francisco is, literally, crumbling, you can't say Adachi didn't warn you. And, on the plus side for him, since Prop. B lost, he doesn't have to pay a cent into his own pension plan

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly


  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

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.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"