Democrats divided

DCCC endorses progressive supervisorial candidates and rejects Newsom ballot measures

Rafael Mandelman and Debra Walker got the DCCC's first place endorsements in their Board of Supervisors races

Update:This online article contains a correction concerning the DCCC's vote on Sup. Sean Elsbernd's Muni pay guarantees (Prop. G). In the print version of this article, the Guardian reported that the DCCC had voted "to recommend a no vote" on Prop. G. This is incorrect. The DCCC voted "not to endorse" Prop. G. As Elsbernd points out, "This is a key distinction."

With fewer than 10 weeks to go until a pivotal November election, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) approved a package of endorsements at its Aug. 11 meeting, giving the nod to mostly progressive candidates and rejecting Mayor Gavin Newsom's most divisive ballot measures.

This crucial election could alter the balance of power on a Board of Supervisors that is currently dominated by progressives, and that new board would be seated just as it potentially gets the chance to appoint an interim mayor.

That's what will happen if Newsom wins his race for lieutenant governor. The latest campaign finance reports show that Newsom has raised twice as much money as the Republican incumbent, former state Sen. Abel Maldonado. But the two candidates are still neck-and-neck in the polls.

Although the DCCC supports Newsom in the race, it is resisting his agenda for San Francisco, voting to oppose his polarizing sit-lie legislation (Prop. L), a hotel tax loophole closure (Prop. K) that would invalidate the hotel tax increase that labor unions placed on the ballot, and his hypocritical ban on local elected officials serving on the DCCC (Prop. H).

Shortly after the vote, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Newsom called an emergency closed-door meeting with some of his downtown allies to discuss the upcoming election. "We just wanted to get on the same page on what's going on locally, what's going with the ballot initiatives, where people are on the candidates for supervisor," Newsom told the newspaper.

DCCC Chair Aaron Peskin, who regularly battled with Newsom during his tenure as president of the Board of Supervisors, voted with the progressive bloc against Newsom's three controversial measures. But he told us that he was glad to see the mayor finally engage in the local political process.

Sup. David Campos kicked off the DCCC meeting by rebuffing newly elected DCCC member Carole Migden's unsuccessful attempt to rescind the body's endorsement of Michael Nava for Superior Court Judge, part of a push by the legal community to rally behind Richard Ulmer and other sitting judges.

Things got even messier when the DCCC endorsed the candidates for supervisor. In District 2, the DCCC gave the nod to Janet Reilly, snubbing incumbent Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier, who is running now that Superior Court Judge Peter Busch has ruled that she is not termed out (a ruling on City Attorney Dennis Herrera's appeal of Busch's ruling is expected soon).

In District 6, where candidates include DCCC member Debra Walker, School Board President Jane Kim, Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks, neighborhood activist Jim Meko, and drag queen Glendon Hyde (a.k.a. Anna Conda), the club endorsed only Walker, denying Kim the second-place endorsement she was lobbying for.

But in District 8, where candidates include progressive DCCC member Rafael Mandelman, moderate DCCC member Scott Wiener, and moderate Rebecca Prozan, the politics got really squirrelly. As expected, Mandelman got the first-place nod with 18 votes: the progressive's bare 17-vote majority on the 33-member body plus Assembly Member Leland Yee.

Yet because Yee supports Prozan and David Chiu, the Board of Supervisors president who was also part of the DCCC progressive slate, had offered less than his full support for Mandelman, a deal was cut to give Prozan a second-place endorsement.