Dodging bullets

SF progressives didn't do as well at the polls as in the last few election cycles, but it could have been worse

Gavin Newsom is leaving for Sacramento, perhaps the best news of all

Progressives in San Francisco dodged a few bullets on election night, which was the highest hope that many held in a campaign season dominated by conservative money and messaging. The Board of Supervisors retained a progressive majority, Prop B's attack on public employees went down, the wealthy will pay more property transfer taxes, and — perhaps the best news of all — Gavin Newsom is leaving for Sacramento a year before his mayoral term ends.

But economically conservative and downtown-backed campaigns and candidates scored the most election-night victories in San Francisco, killing a temporary hotel tax hike pushed hard by labor and several progressive-sponsored ballot measures, and winning approval for the divisive sit-lie ordinance and Prop. G, removing Muni driver pay guarantees, which had the widest margin of the night: 65-35 percent.

"Ultimately, downtown did well," progressive political consultant Jim Stearns told us on election night, noting how aggressive spending by downtown business and real estate interests ended a string of progressive victories in the last several election cycles. He cited the likely election of Scott Wiener in District 8 and the strong challenge in District 2 by Mark Farrell to perceived frontrunner Janet Reilly, who had progressive and mainstream endorsements.

A preliminary Guardian analysis of reported spending by independent expenditure committees shows that groups affiliated with downtown or supporting more conservative candidates spent about $922,435, the biggest contributions coming from conservative businessman Thomas Coates and the San Francisco Board of Realtors, compared to $635,203 by more progressive organizations, mostly the San Francisco Democratic Party and San Francisco Labor Council.

That spending piggy-backed on national campaigns that were also skewed heavily to conservative and corporate-funded groups and messaging that demonized government and public employee unions, playing on people's economic insecurities during a stubborn recession and jobless recovery.

Stearns said voters are having a hard time in this economy "and they don't like to see the government spending." He said national polls consistently show that people are more scared of "big government" than they are "big corporations," even if San Francisco progressives tend to hold the opposite view.

And even that narrow defeat came after an almost unprecedented opposition campaign that included every elected official in San Francisco except the measure's sponsor, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, and both the labor movement and many moderate groups.

"The campaign on this was extraordinary and caught fire at the end," Alex Clemens, founder of Barbary Coast Consulting, said at SPUR's Nov. 4 election wrap-up event. In particular, the message about how much Prop B would increase the health care costs on median-income city employees seemed to resonate with voters.

"We are really happy that Prop. B is going down because it was such a misguided measure. It was not well thought through," Labor Council President Tim Paulson told the Guardian at the election night party labor threw with the San Francisco Democratic Party at Great American Music Hall. "San Francisco voters are the smartest in America."

Paulson was also happy to see those voters approve taxing the transfer of properties worth more than $5 million, "because San Franciscans know that everyone has to pay their fair share."



How about L loss Sit/Lie? How could you not analyze that?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

I mentioned sit-lie high up into the story, but I had limited space and so didn't go into great detail analyzing it. It wasn't a big surprise: fear-mongering and demonizing of the poor are proven tactics to get voters to expand the police state and create new categories of crimes, and that's been true for the last 40 years in this country. Sad, but true. How's that analysis?

Posted by steven on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

The average citizen can't be trusted to think for themselves so it must have been political spending that is at fault for losses, unless you win, then it was the peoples innate common sense. There really is no wrong answer when it comes to elections for the true believers.

Hate to throw a wrench in the works but I don't think at any time prop L wasn't a winner, long before any money got involved in advertising it one way or another. It was kind of like when the progressive board of supes have a public dog and pony show over fait accompli legislation.

It's also odd that the so called progressives are upset that labor gets a chance to come to the bargaining table with prop G.

It is also odd that the Guardian spent the last six months moaning that the board should have put a host of new taxing schemes on the ballot, demanding that they would have won.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 10, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

Glen, two of the three tax measures on the ballot (AA and N) won by overwhelming margins, while the third tax measure (J) lost by a smaller margin in the face of strong opposition by downtown and Newsom. What we've been saying for six months remains true: San Franciscans are sick of these cuts-only budget solutions.

Posted by steven on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

"Downtown" has got to be the most overused term in the Bay Guardian dictionary. Sit Lie didn't pass because of downtown interests - it passed because people in this City are sick of walking over and around the various urine soaked bums on the way to work. Prop G didn't pass because of downtown - it passed because anybody who isn't fucking headless could see that the drivers compensation and labor package lead to zero accountability and poor performance among MUN drivers.

The ironically pretentious "Progressive" crowd needs to realize something... whenever people vote or support something contrary to your position, it's not because they're simply not smart enough to see what's really going on. It's not because they have been manipulated by "downtown". It's because they have analyzed the issue at hand and voter according to their interests.

Quite blaming downtwn everytime an election doesn't go your way - maybe you just have shitty positions.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

I agree, now that must mean that we are just stupid, eh Steve?

Sometimes I am too stupid to know the difference between my elbow and my ass, just last night I stuck my elbow in the toilet and pooed on the floor, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

sit-lie did pass because of downtown interests including chamber of commerce.

sit-lie lost in the haight..

"Sit/Lie Lost In Haight, Won In Pac Heights, Seacliff, West of Twin Peaks" (sf appeal)

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

from your own link, Prop L passed in D6 for gawd's sake! It passed in the same district that elected Chris Daly - twice. Try reading the links you post first.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

from your own link, Prop L passed in D6 for gawd's sake! It passed in the same district that elected Chris Daly - twice. Try reading the links you post first.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

from your own link, Prop L passed in D6 for gawd's sake! It passed in the same district that elected Chris Daly - twice. Try reading the links you post first.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

i read the article B4 posting. you missed the point. the wealthy, big business paid for sit-lie is the point. i've found a link someone gave during the campaign. read this:

Pacific Heights Moguls Fund Sit/Lie
High-tech financiers, not Haight Street merchants, are bankrolling Prop. L

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

"But that's just what he did. "I donated to get the campaign off the ground," Conway wrote in an e-mail. "This movement began by merchants and neighbors coming together and I wanted to help them build their organization as I believe in their cause.""


The whole prop L thing started because the supervisors ignored neighborhood concerns, they actively ignored the people who had to put up with the bums.

Instead of addressing these concerns they got prop L. Now they are attempting to rewrite history and blame prop L on the conspiracy.

Even before it was a prop it polled as a winner.

Stop crying "progressives" your leaders had their chance to avert this and they fucked it off.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

What is the definition of "downtown"? That term is used a lot by the SFBG and I don't know what it's supposed to mean. Financial district? Business supporters?

I'm not trying to be snide. That term seems a bit amorphous and I'm curious as to the meaning attributed to it.

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

the effort to criminalize homelessness started in the haight. then came the idea to make sit-lie city-wide. now the city has it but the haight voted against it. as a local born here, i voted no.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2010 @ 7:30 pm