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Monday, October 13, 2014

Tempers Flare Over Use of Term "Crony" in David Chiu-David Campos Debate

Posted By on Mon, Oct 13, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is a funny guy, but the race to succeed him hasn't been much fun. Supervisors David Campos and David Chiu took off the gloves long ago — that way, it's easier to load 'em up with shrapnel and broken glass before putting 'em back on. 

By now, San Franciscans could build a small fort out of political material put out by independent expenditure campaigns attempting to tear down each candidate (The California Nurses Association has produced glossy fliers tying Chiu to the nasty Republicans his business once worked with; venture capitalists and Airbnb investors Reid Hoffman and Ron Conway, meanwhile, have put $600,000 into a campaign lassoing Campos to Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi featuring enraged domestic violence victims). 

And, on a heated Chiu-Campos tête-à-tête on KQED's Forum today, both the principals and their supporters were angered by the semantic deployment of the visceral term "crony." 

"I was listening. I was offended," Supervisor John Avalos tells us. At issue, he says, was Chiu's reference to Mirkarimi as a Campos crony, which bothered Campos, too. "Why would that be accurate?" Campos pondered. "Ross didn't even endorse me for supervisor."

You can hear Chiu call Mirkarimi Campos' "crony" at the 38-minute mark here

Calls to Chiu and his campaign consultant Nicole Derse have not yet been returned. But the attempts to use Mirkarimi (who pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge against his wife, Eliana Lopez, in 2012) as a millstone around the necks of the supervisors who voted to keep him in office is not a new device.

Chiu was earlier quoted as referring to the four supes who voted against the notion Mirkarimi committed "official misconduct," thereby reinstating the suspended sheriff, as "David and a couple of his cronies.

This left both Avalos and Campos mystified — and miffed. Along with that pair, Supervisor Jane Kim and erstwhile Supervisor Christina Olague also voted against removing Mirkarimi from office (this triggered a scorched-earth campaign against her in her losing race to Supervisor London Breed).

Kim, however, remains in good standing with Chiu, who has endorsed her against paltry competition in her bid to remain District 6 supervisor. "'A couple' means maybe [Chiu] was excluding Jane," says Avalos. "Or maybe he doesn't know what 'a couple' means." 

Or "crony," for that matter. Perusing the dictionary definition of that term, it'd be hard to claim Mirkarimi, Avalos, Kim, or Olague are Campos' "cronies," per se. That word, however, does bring up plenty of bad feelings and negative implications. It's not a good word to have dangling around your neck along with whatever other millstones have been placed there. 

So, not only is this city the site of a war of words — it appears we're also hosting a war on words. 

Update, 2:15 p.m.: Jen Kwart, David Chiu's campaign manager, dropped a line. She feels that "crony"  is an fair term to use in this case. "Based on the definition, Ross is a close friend of someone powerful who was given unfair favors," she says. "I think it's pretty accurate."

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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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