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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dave Schwartz, "Hero" of Nevada's Pot Movement, to Take Over Michela Alioto-Pier's Mayoral Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Michela's marijuana man - LUKE THOMAS

The days when "gambling" with marijuana on the Las Vegas strip could result in lifetime imprisonment are long gone. Reefer now mixes with roulette in the nation's Sin City -- where, it should be noted, you have never needed a medical recommendation to use prostitutes.

And while there's still no legal way for ill Nevadans to acquire their meds, it's not for a lack of trying on the part of Dave Schwartz, the campaign manager of Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, which seeks to place before Nevada voters in 2012 a ballot initiative allowing pot to be distributed.

But not before Schwartz works electoral magic here in San Francisco. He is set to take over former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier's campaign for San Francisco mayor next week, she confirmed to SF Weekly.

"We've brought him in to raise it up a notch," says Alioto-Pier, who

described Schwartz as "a real field guy ... the type of guy who can go

anywhere, basically."

At the very least, Schwartz should feel comfortable in San Francisco, where his connection to the medical cannabis movement won't be working against him. "If

anything, it'll help him," Alioto-Pier tells us.

But it's worth nothing that outside-based

consultants generally have a mixed record in San Francisco politics -- on a good day.Those who are closely watching the mayoral race might recall that former Supervisor Bevan Dufty parted ways with Obama consultant Steve Hildebrand after Dufty shelled out more than $100,000 on the South Dakota-based strategist to no apparent gain.

Schwartz is not Alioto-Pier's first outside hire, either: The main person calling the shots is Maryland-based Joe Trippi, who gained fame and political clout for running Howard Dean's formidable fundraising machine in 2004 (pre-scream, of course).

So why would campaigns look beyond the Bay for political operatives? All the local ones are taken, for one. This isn't a big town, and firms like Stearns Consulting, which is running state Sen. Leland Yee's campaign for mayor, and Whitehurst/Mosher Campaign, working for Dennis Herrera, have longstanding relationships with their clients.

"It's hard to hit the ground running [in San Francisco] when you don't know anything about the city," one consultant said, speaking on background. It's also worthwhile to mention that most field directors are already in full-on beast mode running their candidates' respective signature drives.

"But on the upside, Michela has a lot of San Francisco-based knowledge," the consultant added.

Schwartz was not available to speak to the media, said Sterling Clifford, a consultant with Joe Trippi and Associates. Schwartz will be in San Francisco and available for interviews "next week." A telephone number listed on Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws's Website was disconnected.

Whatever Schwartz can do over the next few months will be but another line on his résumé -- which includes running the Nevada operation for Senator Chris Dodd's short-lived presidential bid -- in a year's time: Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws is hell-bent on putting a ballot measure before Nevada voters that will finally provide a way for patients to acquire their medical pot.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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