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Is Scott Wiener a Giraffe 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2016

The June election had no shortage of drama, from Bernie's last stand in the California primary to the emergence of progressive control of the usually obscure Democratic County Central Committee. But despite the flood of campaign fliers clogging mailboxes around the city, wacky visuals and off-the-wall pitches were largely absent. Except, that is, for one glorious, slightly baffling poster produced by Supervisor Scott Wiener's campaign for state Senate.

Wiener was facing his fellow supervisor Jane Kim in a rehash of the typical progressive-versus-moderate duel known to even casual political observers in the city. Wiener is the moderate; Kim the progressive. But while Kim earned a coveted and rare endorsement from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Wiener had a killer poster of him towering over a giraffe.

Spotted in the window of a Divisadero Street dry cleaners, the Chinese-language giraffe poster is a stark departure from its English-language counterpart. Aside from a bright orange color, it is hard to get any more vanilla than "Scott Wiener: Democrat for State Senate." In the most common variant, there is no photo and nothing about Wiener or why you should vote for him aside from a URL for his campaign website.

By contrast, campaign spokeswoman Maggie Muir said in an email that the Chinese poster repeats the candidate's name and the office he is seeking before departing into more ... creative territory.

"Standing very later and able to see really far," is Muir's rather garbled translation of the poster's body text.

Wiener's headshot is presented towering over a simple rendering of a giraffe, and Muir points out that the supervisor is very tall "and also a calm, steady, hard working presence, like a giraffe."

"Metaphorically, it means 'sometime is visionary,' " Muir added.

Hm. There is no denying that both Wiener and giraffes are very tall, the latter sometimes reaching 18 feet in height.

As for the "calm, steady and hard working" nature of the mammal native to the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa? Nature documentary footage of giraffes clubbing each other with their long necks may bring the "calmness" claim into question, but apparently giraffes only sleep two hours per day, which speaks to a hard-working nature of sorts.

The giraffe imagery "is a play off the last character of his Chinese name and basically says Scott stands tall and strong, and sees far in his policies that help the community," Muir explained.

Wiener is known as something of a workhorse on the board of supervisors, with the San Francisco Examiner — which endorsed his opponent Kim — calling him a "hard worker who has tackled weighty issues," especially relating to public transit and other good government initiatives.

Final verdict: Whether it has any impact on Chinese-language voters in San Francisco, the more quirky candidate pitches the better. Long live Scott Wiener-as-giraffe.

In real news, Kim's 70-vote lead in the June primary has grown to 641 votes. That means it's close — which hopefully also means more campaign creativity to come before the two face off in November.

About The Author

Arno Rosenfeld


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