DCCC seats are fine for Newsom, just not supervisors

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Newsom wants the DCCC to change its bylaws to give him a seat, hoping to thwart the progressive majority.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is seeking to be seated on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee when it swears in newly elected members tonight, even though the body's legal counsel says he's not entitled to a seat and Newsom has put a measure of the November ballot that would prohibit local officials from serving on that body.

Newsom and his supporters, most prominently DCCC member and District 8 supervisorial candidate Scott Wiener – who fears the progressive-dominated body will endorse and support his more progressive opponent, Rafael Mandelman – argue that being the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor should give him a seat on the DCCC.

But the longtime legal counsel for DCCC, Lance Olson, doesn't agree, citing bylaws that indicate that only nominees for statewide offices currently held by Democrats get seats on the body. So District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee to succeed Attorney General Jerry Brown, gets an ex officio seat (those held by state and federal elected officials and regional party leaders) but Newsom doesn't because he's running against incumbent Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, a Republican.

DCCC chair Aaron Peskin, a political opponent of Newsom, told us the rules are the rules and that if Newsom thinks that it's in the interests of the Democratic Party for him to have a seat, “He's going to need to make an argument why we should amend the rules.” Peskin even offered to introduce a rule change for discussion if Newsom does so.

While Wiener wrote (in a letter quoted by the Chronicle) that seating Newsom would be about party unity, Peskin notes that Newsom has actually been a practitioner of the “politics of spite and division,” particularly after he responded to the success of the progressive DCCC slate in the June election by trying to ban local officeholders from the body (several progressive members of the Board of Supervisors successfully ran for the DCCC), claiming the body should be like a farm team for building the party.

“It really begs the question: why is he seeking to do himself what he doesn't want others to do?” Peskin asked.

Newsom's office didn't respond to our inquires about the matter. BTW, in his letter to Peskin, Newsom proposed that attorney John Shanley be his proxy and journalist and political gadfly Warren Hinckle be his alternate. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the state building at 455 Golden Gate.