The future of the DCCC


Now that Aaron Peskin is retiring as chair of the Democratic County Central Committee, and is not even seeking re-election, the future of a realtively obscure but political important agency is very much up in the air.

Peskin had his share of critics, and he would be the fist to say it was time for him to move on, but he orchestrated the progressive takeover of the DCCC four years ago and turned it into an operation that helped get progressives elected to local office. He raised money for the party and kept the often (ahem) fractious progressive committee members going in the same direction. He was a leader -- and without him, the left wing of the local Democratic Party is struggling.

Nobody has been able at this point to take Peskin’s place -- and in the meantime, the moderate-to-conservative folks are moving agressively to take the DCCC back.

It’s going to be a fascinating race -- Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a bill that changes the makeup of the committee, giving the east side of town more members. That’s because more than 60 percent of the Democrats in the city live in what is now Tom Ammiano’s Assembly district. (The east side district of Fiona Ma now includes more of the Peninsula.)

So 14 of the members will be elected from Ammiano’s district, and only 10 from Ma’s (more conservative) district.

But Peskin won’t be on the ballot, and incumbent Debra Walker has stepped down and won’t run (she’s been replaced by Police Commission member Petra DeJesus).

Meanwhile, among the more centrist people who have filed to run: Former Supervisor Bevan Dufty. Sup. Malia Cohen, School Board Member Hydra Mendoza, and former Redevelopment Commission member London Breed. Sup. Scott Wiener, a longtime incumbent, is running for re-election.

The left starts with a vote deficit, since all of the statewide and federal elected officials who are Democrats and live in or represent part of SF are automatically members. That means Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier, Attorney General Kamala Harris, state Sen. Leland Yee, State Sen. Mark Leno, Ma and Ammiano all have votes -- and while they never show up, the elected officials send proxies, and other than Ammiano and sometimes Yee and Leno, they can’t be counted on to support progressive candidates and causes.

So progressives need to win more than a simple majority of the contested 24 seats, and while that’s entirely possible, it’s hard to see a full slate in both districts. At best, most progressive groups will probably endorse 12 candidates on the east side and eight on the west -- and since the most conservative incumbents will likely win, as will Dufty, probably Cohen and quite possibly Breed, it’s entirely possible that the moderate wing will regain control.

There’s been some tension among progressives in the past few weeks, some arguments about who would best replace Peskin as chair. Animosity over those discussions was one reason Walker resiged. And while there are legit questions about which of the progressives would best run the committee, I fear the candidates were getting ahead of themselves. Because you can’t fight over leadership until you have a majority. And that’s going to be a bigger struggle than it’s been in quite a while.


be more representatively accurate if the DCCC reflected that?

There probably aren't too many more Republicans than Greens and so, discounting both those fringe groups, it's probably fair to say that the DCCC reflects the city as a whole.

Posted by Grog on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 10:53 am

"he would be the fist to say it was time for him to move on"
T Redmond

His fist is doing what? Has he joined his friend Mirkarimi in domestic home brutaliy games?

...(you need a copy editor)

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 11:47 am

Oh please, stop it with the fisting. You knew what he was saying!

Posted by Jonathan Frieman on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

They wanted to do some duo-fisting together?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2012 @ 7:52 am

He was Chairman for two Supervisor elections, one Mayoral appointment and one Mayoral election. I won't even talk about the 2 Mayoral events out of compassion for the feelings of the Progressives, as they are still open wounds.

He did get some Progressives elected in 2008 but later called them a 'Hot Mess' after his hand picked successor did the Judas thing.

In 2010, after he had been Chair for a few years, the once highly valued DCCC endorsement turned into a true humilation, going 0-4.

Meanwhile he was using DCCC donations to go lawyer shopping to try and keep his personal vendetta against Newsom going.

I think Progressives have been really damaging to SF overall. Which is why I'm sorry to see Peskin leaving the DCCC. People that ineffective are rare indeed.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

It's a small list of the political players on the progressive team that have a modicum of social, listening and collaboration skills - along with the intelligence and passion about making the lives better for the botton 66.6% and future generations. Losing both Ms. Walker and Mr. Peskin from the DCCC is a big blow.

Besides the DCCC (often meaningless) policy pronouncements, their slate card ranks up there with the Bay Guardian and Sierra Club slate cards, which many of us use to help narrow candidate choices. Most of us don't have the time or inclination to follow local politics very closely other than a few headline stories, but after a few years of living here we have learned enough respect for the Bay Guardian, Sierra Club, Milk Club and the DCCC slate cards to help us with the candidate and ballot measure filtering process. We may not always follow their recommendations, but their choices are always worth considering before voting.

Aside from the DCCC, however, it was Peskin's work with Ammiano, Gonzalez and McGoldrick on the BOS that really helped progressives politically since it showed they could not only offer credible budget and policy alternatives to manging a complex city, but could also stand up to an imperious mayor and the city departments the mayor had stacked with his lackeys.

It's not a very hopeful situtation for the progressive team. Willie Brown has to be smiling. Two of his proteges will be strong contenders for CA governor (Harris v. Newsom); his favorite mayor choice is pulling the levels for property owners and developers, the Chamber, and the Port mega-monster developer; and other proteges such as Dufty, Weiner and Chu have emerged as strong candiates to carry on his tradition of making SF a safe haven for the jet-set, multi-millionaire crowd, with just a percent or two of low-income housing to show the world how progressive SF really is.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

and burn these last couple of years?

Like, er, Walker? (Snirk).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

Brown's team adroitly coopted progressives using city funding to short circuit any community organizing to challenge developer giveaways. Either you don't challenge us and make sure that nobody on your side challenges us or we cut you off.

Our side took the deal and now we're screwed.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

>"Ineffective people rarely receive snide comments from Trolls"

Unless they view themselves with undeserved emperor style grandeur while being condescending to all of those lesser mortals who approach them. Unless they have done nothing to build any value into the city and have used their power to block anything and everything, especially if it can be seen from Telegraph Hill.

Even a key provision of his signature Muni Reform measure had to be repealed by the voters after he left office.

And those endorsements that you mention? Before Peskin they actually had some influence on the election. After 4 years of him they are now worthless.

Amazing how smart the little people are. Except for one.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

Dont worry, he's leaving to be one of those lawyers who sues the city 24/7/365

He's already got two lawsuits against SF, and he hasnt even retired yet.

He's a provincial blowhard, and not even terribly intelligent. His entire tenure on the BOS was about stopping something/anything.

Never did he try and foster something.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

Calling someone a lawyer is one of the worse things you can say about them, so your bias speaks for itself.

But other readers may not realize that some people regularly lie on blogs - even on this esteemed Bay Guardian blog - and they might be interested to know that Mr. Peskin is not a lawyer AFAIK. Nice try with the smear campaign, but it's more evidence he's being effective or you wouldn't waste your time or the electrons.

If you're implying he seems extraordinarily knowledgable about the nuances of land-use law, you'd be correct. (And with his illustrious land-use background, he should be Planning Director since he'd invigorate the ineffective and clueless group of technocrats who work there and seem to spend most of their day doing the bidding of the city's powerful developers and speculators.)

I've never spoken to him about this directly but from what I read many years ago, Mr.Peskin received a fair amount of his environmental training while working at Trust for Public Land, one of the premier non-profits in the country that has protected as much land for wildlife habitat, open space and ag land than probably every other non-profit in the entire world. They are that good. Apparently while working there he was trying to protect clean water sources for resident Indian tribes, wildlife habitat, Pyramid Lake and the fish that were under threat from government bureaucrats who wanted to divert and sell the water to the highest bidders such as land developers building miles upon miles of sprawl housing (ghost towns?) in the Nevada desert.

Similar to the Nevada and Federal government bureaucrats, the local bureaucarats and SF politicians have made it their duty to transfer as much wealth as possible to land speculators and developers, leaving the current residents to pay the collateral damage for decades to come.

At least someone is challenging these land give aways since it's fairly clear none of the local politicians and bureaucrats have the intelligence, or passion, or organizing skills, or know-how to stop the raping of SF land. Haven't you seen the new proposed Big Dick building? It's clear what the politicians and developers think of SF - the residents can suck the Big C___ while the developers suck millions of dollars of land values out of the city.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

Hilarious! Peskin as planning director! Maybe if you own stock in an amber production business. Between his wife and the other clenched asses of the 1% on telegraph hill, we'd never see a new building that wouldn't look great in Disneyland.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

Wile E. Coyote is being appointed conservator of the Road Runner exhibit at the zoo.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

The progressive DCCC slate in the Westside actually has 9 candidates out of 10. (Not bad.) They are Mike Alonso, Wendy Aragon, Kevin Bard, Chuck Chan, Kelly Welsh-Dwyer, Henne Kelly (Incumbent), Peter Lauterborn, Eric Mar (Incumbent), and Trevor McNeil.

Nevertheless, progressives are going to have to work double-time to retain control. Rumor is that the moderates have coalesced around Bevan Dufty as the next chair. And thanks to that new job he landed as Homeless Czar, he has plenty of money to spend on that effort.

Posted by Common Sense SF on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

Because that's who I want to vote for.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

We don't want left-wing or right-wing. We don't want extremists of either hue. We want normal, reasonable people who want to get the job done and are not all caught up on ideology and agenda's.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

It's pretty easy to find a "progressive" list here at the Guardian or online. Finding a list of moderates is a lot harder. I've only voted in 1 DCCC election in my decade in San Francisco because it always seemed so unimportant. I'm not going to do that anymore.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

I swear, every article you write about them is either about how they're losing control, have already lost control or can't align around a single message.

And that's what *you* write about them, Tim. And you're their cheerleader. No real paper in this town seems to even give a shit.

Posted by Sambo on Mar. 12, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

Ross Mirkarimi

Posted by Guest on Mar. 13, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

While most "progressive" supervisors on the DCCC sat on their asses and didn't do darn thing to help raise money or promote the Democratic Party in SF, there was aaron, busting ass for a job that doesn't pay, making up for the lack of effort by Avalos, Mar, Chiu, Campos, etc.

The DCCC as a progressive organization has lost influence and can't pump out the mail and other outreach to drive turnout, and it's not because Aaron wasn't trying. No one has his back and the proggie supervisors were all too busy running for other offices.

It's sad to see the progressives run around, defending a douche like Ross at a time when at least one incumbent is likely to get their ass kicked, and the Democratic party locally will NOT have the free money from elsewhere it did in 2008. Wake up and smell the free trade coffee - this city just elected Ed Lee and George Gascon, and is ready to do more damage if they aren't presented with a viable alternative. Ideological bullshit from the left doesn't sell any more.

Posted by Peskin for President on Mar. 13, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

I'm sure that the paid advocates can figure out a way to identify the smallest interest group in San Francisco and demand that the entire city stop until their needs are met completely.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Glad to see some admission that what you guys have been selling for decades is "Ideological bullshit"

Posted by Greg on Mar. 13, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

I'm just pointing out that most progressives didn't do squat for the Democratic party locally. How you twist this in to me "selling" something is just a sign you're an asshat.

BTW love how often you're on here "Commenting." Bet you've accomplished a lot by doing so. Name a few things that changed SF for the better thanks to your "commenting."


Posted by Peskin for President on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Peskin hasn't done squat for the party - because the party was and is in fine shape in San Francisco. Everything Peskin did and continues to do is aimed towards a single objective - helping himself.

Claiming Peskin did some fabulous job and saved the party is like claiming someone saved a fish from drowning.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

@Peskin for President is on here commenting that other people are wasting their time commenting and calling them names for doing so.

We don't need Stanford-Binet or Woodcock-Johnson testing. If you ascribe any value whatsoever to Peskin you just don't have a brain with any synapses firing. And you're probably painful to be around as well. Plus, you probably spend a lot of time drunk.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 6:08 pm


Wow the average Bay Guardian reader is really stupid.

But seriously, if SF turnout doesn't stay high that's bad for statewide and presidential races. As it stands, the DCCC is barely hanging on. If Peskin hadn't been there doing what he could, it would have had no presence in mailboxes and online like it did.

Which is pathetic, really, but then again, the class of 2008 Supervisors have all been jerkwads. Avalos = asshat Campos = liar and bigot Mar = stupid and made a fool of himself on national TV and Chiu = backstabbing ladder climbing POS.

Hope they all lose in 2012! A pity the non progressives are so bad at getting good candidates to run. But their dysfunction (which is as bad as progwessives) is a whole other story.

Posted by Peskin for President on Mar. 14, 2012 @ 10:52 pm