Who wants change? - Page 2

Local endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fall along familiar ideological lines

"I think people are really tired of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton."

But Elsbernd — like many other Clinton endorsers — played down the differences between the top two candidates and doesn't see much symbolism in the endorsements, although he does acknowledge that those who prefer to work within the system tend to support Clinton, while those "who are always pushing the system to go further" seem to be backing Obama, or John Edwards in some cases.

"If Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton were on the Board of Supervisors, they'd probably be to the right of me," said Elsbernd, whom most observers consider the board's most conservative member, later adding, "Whoever wins the nomination, San Francisco will be heavily supportive of [him or her]."

But Sup. Chris Daly — who, like Peskin and many others, backed Edwards four years ago and supports Obama this time — thinks an Obama victory would be hugely important both locally and nationally in terms of opening up the Democratic Party and the country to new ideas.

"Hillary Clinton clearly represents the establishment, closely aligned to the [Democratic Leadership Council], and Obama represents a change from that. If Obama wins, it would send a serious wave of change through the Democratic Party and open up opportunities for progressives," Daly told us.

He also said progressive Democrats are "like the redheaded stepchildren of the party," consistently marginalized by leaders like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Feinstein, and Newsom. Daly said he liked the policies and messages of Edwards and Dennis Kucinich but identifies with Obama's roots as a community organizer and feels he's the best hope for change. Daly said an Obama victory would "mainstream activist politics, which is what I practice."

Many Clinton supporters aren't afraid of the establishment label, which progressives often use as an epithet and indicator of a brand of politics mired in status quo constructs.

"To me, that's one of her strengths. She knows how government works and will be ready to lead on day one, and if that's called establishment, that's OK with me," said Laura Spanjian, a vocal Clinton campaigner and elected member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee.

There are some mainstream candidates who have bucked the norm. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is definitely to Feinstein's left, and Pelosi have decided not to endorse any of the Democratic primary candidates. And Sup. Bevan Dufty, who is often a Newsom ally, has endorsed Obama.

"I truly feel he is unique among the candidates as far as being able to repair our relationship with the rest of the world," said Dufty, who said he identifies with African American politics, having been raised by a civil rights activist and later working for groundbreaking Congressperson and presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm and former mayor Willie Brown. "I think Obama is much better situated to bring about a new dynamic."

Eric Jaye, owner of Storefront Political Media and the top consultant to Newsom's two successful mayoral campaigns, told us, "There's no doubt that prominent endorsers, like Kamala Harris for Barack Obama or Gavin Newsom for Hillary Clinton, stake some political capital in their endorsements. But I don't think it matters that much."

In fact, rather than altering local political dynamics or the careers of aspiring politicians, Jaye said, the split endorsements of local officials is positive: "We've hedged our bets, so whoever wins is going to love San Francisco and our top leaders."