The battle for the DCCC is on

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By Tim Redmond

The battle over the future of the Democratic Party in San Francisco is underway in earnest. The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), which represents downtown property interests, is holding a forum Dec. 11 to talk about the Democratic County Central Committee -- and, perhaps, kick off organizing for a downtown-backed DCCC slate.

The forum is in the board room of the Chamber of Commerce, which is also sponsoring the event.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and the downtown business community have been decidedly unhappy with the state of the panel that controls policy for the local party since a progressive slate led by Aaron Peskin took control in 2008. The DCCC often seems like a political footnote, but it has considerable influence: the committee decides on local party endorsements, putting the stamp of the Democratic Party behind candidates for local office. And the San Francisco Democratic Party slate card has been largely in the progressive camp the past two years.

The BOMA forum will feature two DCCC incumbents, Mary Jung and Scott Wiener, who are both in the moderate-centrist camp. Wiener told me he sees this just as an informational event, “to let people know what the committee does.” He said he knew of no political agenda behind the discussion. (Although, interestingly, Peskin -- the chair of the local party -- wasn’t invited to speak.)

Ken Cleaveland, BOMA’s director of governmental affairs, also said he was only out to educate his constituents. “Most of the business community doesn’t know what the DCCC does and doesn’t know why it’s important,” he told me. “We need to be aware of the influence it has.”

But he’s certainly not against using the meeting as an organizing platform: “I would love to see a pro-business slate happen,” he said. “The business community hasn’t been as organized as the progressives have in fielding slates.”

We all knew this was coming -- but it’s a sign that the progressives will have to mount an even-more-serious campaign to hold onto control of the DCCC against what could be a well-funded assault in June.