Who's in Dufty's "corner?"

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By Tim Redmond

Okay, so I tweaked Sup. Bevan Dufty a couple of weeks ago about an item that appeared in Matier and Ross Aug. 20. The item suggested that "mud balls are being lobbed" in the District 8 supervisorial campaign; someone apparently sent the dynamic duo at the Chron a "1995 news clip from the Chicago Tribune describing how Rosenthal, then a 22-year-old senior at Northwestern University, abruptly resigned as student body president rather than face an impeachment hearing over a campaign finance scandal.

"Her sin: Exceeding the campaign spending limit by $26.06"

I picked it up and raised the question: Since Dufty has made a huge point (rightly so) of refusing to engage in negative campaigning, who exactly was flinging this mud?

Well, it's turned into a fascinating little teapot tempest.

Dufty came in for an endorsement interview last week (we'll post the full tape, all 90 minutes of it, on sfbg.com in a day or two), and tore into me for implying that he was somehow involved in dishing dirt on another candidate. He said he'd called Matier and Ross and complained that they never asked him for comment on the item (true); he then told us that the boys had apologized and promised to run a correction. He swore nobody affiliated with his campaign had done it, and suggested that it might have come from anywhere -- even Rosenthal herself.

That's not how Andy Ross remembers it. Ross told me that Dufty had, indeed, called him to complain, but that he had never promised to correct anything -- the item, he insisted, was entirely accurate.

No, Dufty wasn't the source for the dirt -- but it was, Ross promised me, "someone in his corner ... that's why we said mud was flying."

So someone allied with Dufty -- perhaps an overzealous supporter -- dragged Bevan the clean campaigner's name through the, uh, mud by dredging up a silly and pointless item from a decade ago and tossing it to the Chron.

Dufty disavowed the hit, and told me that anyone who would do something like that "shouldn't claim to be a supporter of mine." But it raises an interesting question: Why would any of Dufty's allies waste time on this sort of stuff? (Among other things, the B.A.R. has made a point of playing up Rosenthal's attendance at Burning Man). Could it be that, as the latest Progressive Voter Index shows, District 8 is still a pretty left-voting part of the city? Rosenthal has some real political challenges -- she's not well known, she's a straight woman running in what has traditionally been a gay district, and Dufty has most of the key endorsements -- but on the issues, especially tenant issues, Rosenthal may be more in touch with the voters.

Frankly, Dufty's the clear front runner at this point. For anyone in his "corner" to give Rosenthal additional press and credibility by attacking her for something everyone with any sense knows is irrelevant -- that's either a sign of world-class stupidity or a signal that the incumbent is vulnerable.