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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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UncategorizedSF Democratic Party (again) shifts to the moderate side...

SF Democratic Party (again) shifts to the moderate side — a wakeup call for progressives

Long lines at the polls to vote for an obscure Democratic Party job
Long lines at the polls to vote for an obscure Democratic Party job

By Tim Redmond

JANUARY 12, 2015 – Most of the time, electing San Francisco delegates to the California Democratic Convention is a pretty low-key affair. A couple of party workers set up shop in a community center, maybe 100 people show up, everyone shakes hands and chats with their friends, and they cast paper ballots for about a dozen delegates who then represent the local Assembly district at the state convention. Where typically not a lot happens anyway.

But as I said a few days ago, 2015 is all about 2016 – and there’s going to be a heated state Senate race in 2016, likely to pit Sup. Scott Wiener against a representative of the progressive side of politics (maybe even Tom Ammiano), and that (like the David Campos-David Chiu race) will be a proxy for the larger progressive tenant and working class-vs.moderate pro-tech-and-landlord political power struggle.

And both sides see the stakes as high: The left fell short in the Campos race, and has no strong candidate for mayor, and with Ammiano termed out of the Assembly, is short on senior elected officials. Wiener is a formidable campaigner and fundraiser, and I’d be startled if Ron Conway doesn’t come in with big money on his side.

The state Democratic Party, through its convention delegates, could endorse one of those candidates, and the party nod is powerful. Particularly when the local Democratic Party has been taken over by the landlords. So over the past few days both sides have been organizing like crazy to get people to come out and vote for delegates.

The building trades unions bused in members to vote for the Chiu-Wiener slate
The building trades unions bused in members to vote for the Chiu-Wiener slate

I showed up at the African American Art and Culture Center on Fulton Street, where the balloting was happening, at around 10:30 Saturday morning. The polls were open from 10 to noon. The place was packed.

Cars circling the block looking for parking. Vans and buses double parked out in front. Clusters of people handing out fliers and slate cards at the door. And a long, long line to get in.

Nobody expected this level of turnout. Paul Hogarth, who was helping organize the event, was stunned. “We’ve never seen this before,” he told me. “That’s why we’re overwhelmed and way understaffed.”

The center wasn’t set up to handle what turned out to be more than 700 people. The elevator, which only holds four at a time, broke down. The Wifi wasn’t enough to handle all the computers that were needed to check voter registrations. To get to the packed room where the voting happened, you had to climb three flights of narrow, crowded stairs.

By the time I left, close to noon, the line just to get into the building was a block long.

Hogarth and Hene Kelly, a longtime Democratic Party activist, did their absolute best to keep things moving, and almost everyone on hand was patient and polite. When the elevators stopped (with people in them) Kelly made sure the trapped voters were safely rescued, then hand-carried ballots downstairs for people with mobility issues. The volunteers had to run back to the print shop twice to get more ballots.

Nobody (well, almost nobody) cut the lines.

In the end, the slate of 14 candidates supported by Wiener and Chiu won, decisively. That’s pretty unusual in itself – like Democratic County Central Committee elections, slates run together but voters pick and choose.

In this case, there was little cross-voting; the Wiener/Chiu forces were disciplined and stuck to their slate. The building trades unions, which support Wiener, sent buses full of members to vote. The progressives worked the phones and email to get their folks out, but it wasn’t enough.

Will this make a huge difference in the 2016 state Senate election? Maybe not. The rules for the Democratic Party endorsement are complicated, and the bar is high, and in most contested primaries, the party endorses nobody.

But as a sign of how heated the politics of San Francisco have become in 2015, it was epic. Ron Conway has said, openly, that he wants to “take back the city” from the progressives. The mayor has clearly signaled which side he’s on. And Wiener and Chiu have made it clear that they are going to contest the next race for state Legislature fiercely and aggressively at every possible level.

That’s a wake-up call for the progressives: There’s a lot of work to do.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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45 COMMENTS

  1. I got in line at 11:50am and had no problem not-voting about 90 minutes later. They sent me the wrong 17th ballot in November, I’m actually in 19th… At least I got to meet the 17th crowd!

  2. You overlook the fact that, for a year leading up to the election, Campos was never once ahead of Chiu in the polls, and also lost the June election to Chiu even though GOP voters had a third alternative.

    So it’s a myth that Campos only lost because of low turnout. He lost because eleven voters wanted Chiu for every ten who wanted Campos, and there is no reason to believe that those who didn’t vote thought any differently.

  3. Campos mainly lost by ~3,500 votes due to Conway et al. bankrolling 6 attack ad spots an hour in the days leading up to the general in November, falsely portraying Sup. Campos as a supporter of domestic violence. Unlike in the 2012 Ohio Presidential, money won out over people, just barely.

    Sure, AD17’s high number of zombie condo owners voting absentee, new-to-SF & fairly apolitical tech workers 20-something tech workers, and mass displacement of sub-professional/managerial class tenants due to Ellis Act 2012-2014 were a factor, but the issue was abysmal voter turn-out, hardly the referendum or mandate on actual policies you claim.

    As has been the trend since the 90s, most tech workers are fairly socially liberal & support civil liberties, regardless of party affiliation (if any). While the current crop of 2.0 techies are far more mainstream liberal or conservative than the Dotcom cohort, and more trusting of institutional authority, presuming they would have supported Chiu or his practical platform seems hasty. Private equity, corporate RE, and managers, sure, but not programmers, engineers, designers, etc.

  4. They don’t want solutions to that conundrum. With their rejection of Prop R in 2002, tenant advocates made it clear that they aren’t just about advocating for tenant rights – they’re about making sure you _stay_ a tenant for life.

  5. It is quite puzzling, if you claim to represent “the people” and then bemoan when your minority loses out…?

    If the democrat board represents a broad cross section of the people, isn’t that it’s purpose?

    Is the committee suposed to just represent progressives?

  6. Exactly, and the point I have been making here throughout.

    The extreme left invest inordinate amounts of time and energy into subverting the will of the natural majority who oppose their ideology.

  7. Organize yourself. Leave us out of it. If people aren’t happy living in one of the great cities of the world, then the problem isn’t the city or its inhabitants, but the unhappy people themselves. Leftist paternalism is a treatable disease.

  8. For the record I’ve only done one Ellis, one OMI, one TIC formation and one condo conversion. Very few tenants have had increased residential mobility imposed on them by me.

    I much prefer natural turnover as a means of upgrading my client base. If that also helps the city’s economy and taxbase in the process, then so be it. We all have to contribute in our own ways, and I ask for nothing in return.

  9. If you make being gay part of your belief system and political ideology, then you have already slipped into the black hole of credibility loss that is identity politics and political correctness.

    There is no way back out of that abyss for tribalists and those who wage war based on stereotypes.

    Tom is too self-absorbed to ever see his flaws so it is up to the rest of us to point them out. At least Petrelis has a sense of humor and Redmond has his humility. What’s Tom got?

  10. Someone should tell Tom that over 75% of SF long-term tenants want their own home, but don’t look to the “progressive left” to provide any solutions to that conundrum. At least Sam and his team are clearing out one building at a time to meet the needs of tens of thousands of future middle-income homeowners, including many who identify as “progressive queers.”

  11. Who is Tom Temprano and what are his records of political success that would lead him to be on the Milk Club eboard? The four years of his tenure have seen a plummeting of the progressive political position yet he still celebrates his successes. Imagine the damage Temprano can accomplish in four more years! I am sure that he and Marke will just dance the night away no matter what happens.

  12. These people running for these offices are seeking leadership positions.

    Autonomous self organized actions are awesome except when they don’t work in which case they are not awesome. A clique of friends ratifying their preconceived conceptions with each other is not the same thing as organizing people to make change. The clique is probably the maximum of reach for the anti-displacement collaborative given that they find anyone who makes more money than they to be rich, the class enemy, and that makes most San Franciscans persona non grata to a collaborative.

  13. You should have made it clearer that the text after the citation was the text of what you were citing, and not your own commentary.

    Clearly you disagree with Tom, as do most people of course, but the bulk of your post appears as if you support his points.

  14. And what has that “Collaborative” achieved, exactly? Other than make a few people more successful than you a few minutes late for work?

  15. Will someone please throw a bucket of reality on Tom Temprano, the former prez of the Milk Club? This column of his ran in the Bay Area Reporter recently and is a huge reminder of how progressive leaders speak to the choir and behave as if they’re winning elections and the hearts and minds beyond their small circles of buds. This column was probably cheered loudly at Tom’s bar El Rio, but beyond the confines of it was likely dismissed as more fantasy-spinning from the Queer Left.

    http://ebar.com/openforum/opforum.php?sec=guest_op&id=495

    As we say goodbye to 2014 the left in San Francisco has a lot to be proud of. Despite losing the most important political battle of the year, the Assembly race between David Campos and David Chiu, by less than 3,000 votes out of over 120,000 cast, our movement made aggressive advances. Campos, and his incredible campaign staff made up of many skilled queer organizers, led one of the most spirited efforts we’ve seen in over a decade. The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club flexed muscle that it hasn’t had in years, leading two of its biggest political programs ever and showing that the queer left is alive, well, and only getting stronger. We showed that in a changing city we are still a force to be reckoned with and that, despite these changes, San Francisco’s moral compass still leans to the left.

    The coming year marks the beginning of a new era where we can take the lessons of campaigns past (and a relatively off electoral year) to lay the foundation for fresh leadership in a changing city. Those of us organizing are already moving forward with our eyes on the jam-packed 2016 ballot – a ballot which will feature supervisors races, an open state Senate race, and of course a presidential race that ensures a large turnout, which is usually a bonus for the left.

    We are already at work building a strong bench of candidates ready to run for office. This bench is comprised of people that mirror the diversity of our neighborhoods with queers, parents, and people of color ready to take the helm and run for everything from supervisor to school board.

    Look for the first wave of new candidates to emerge in the June 2016 election for the city’s official Democratic Party body, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. The DCCC sends out arguably the most important election endorsements in the city each year and in 2014 it did not endorse a single LGBT candidate aside from incumbent District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. That is a real problem, and one that demonstrates the need for new voices from the left and from the LGBT community.

    A quick look at the city’s commissions, committees, and task forces shows a number of promising members of San Francisco’s LGBT left, a number that you can expect to grow in the coming year as new opportunities open. Serving on these panels is an important introductory experience into city government and helps develop the skills and connections necessary to run for higher office.

    As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure LGBT voices are leaders amongst the city’s left, the Milk club has been working diligently to support the efforts of our members to serve the public on bodies ranging from the Entertainment Commission to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force to the Geary Bus Rapid Transit Citizens Advisory Committee. The club’s incoming executive board, led by a slew of energetic and passionate organizers, is full of future commissioners and potential candidates.

    Despite a strong effort from the Campos campaign to reach out to the ever-increasing number of absentee voters – and winning 57 percent of the vote on Election Day – 2014 underscored the need to be even more aggressive as we grow our vote-by-mail base. Supervisor Campos is already at work on a groundbreaking solution – having the Department of Elections send every registered voter an absentee ballot. The ultimate goal in any election is to have as many people as possible vote so, since people who vote by mail have far higher turnout, why not send everyone a ballot?

    In addition to policy fixes, the left is already beginning the work of organizing renters, LGBT people, and members of the Latino and African-American communities to form a formidable and dependable absentee voter bloc. With a demonstrated track record of success on Election Day and a growing absentee program, we will be poised to overcome the avalanche of billionaire cash that San Francisco’s own Koch Brothers, Ron Conway and Reid Hoffman, have used to buy victories in the past couple cycles.

    Having spent the past four years as a member of the Milk club’s board, serving as president and co-president for the past two, I am proud of the work we have done to grow our membership, increase our presence in City Hall, and significantly impact elections. We have worked hard to recruit an effective and diverse group of leaders who have revamped the club and restored it to the pillar of San Francisco’s left that it ought to be. As we usher in a new era in San Francisco politics, you can look to the Milk club for aggressive voter recruitment, envelope-pushing policies and the elected leaders of tomorrow.

  16. What’s a leader? Things happen when people get involved to make something happen. The Anti-Displacement Collaborative wasn’t waiting for a leader to organize their actions highlighting the rampant gentrification happening near Google, Apple, Yahoo and Genentech bus routes. Over a period of time people talked with one another, came up with some ideas and decided to pursue a couple of them. It’s called directed human action and interaction, not leadership.

    If people are waiting for some leader to help them find their way, they probably should go back home and live in mom’s basement.

  17. I never suggested that a minority cannot advocate to improve their situation. I simply said that they cannot reasonably expect to win a majority at an election if what they seek is opposed by the majority.

    Of course you can seek to persuade the majority that they are wrong. But events like this indicate that such attempts at persuasion are failing. When Campos cannot even win the east side of the city, you have to see the writing on the wall for leftist extremism.

    Sometimes you just have to accept that you are losing influence because of demographic trends and a maturing community.

  18. So minority blocs–if they are actually that–should stop organizing, fighting and voting, Spam? I’m sure you didn’t say that during the progressive BOS sweep of 2000. Landlords are a minority, ergo they stop trying to kill rent control? Don’t be so simple.

  19. Lets ask our fearless leader Nate Alby! He quarterbacked this effort, yet another in a long string of stunning Campos/Ammiano defeats. But let’s do it quick because next we need to take back D3!

  20. Redmond paints a picture of the wailing and gnashing of the teeth–a catastrophe. He’s finally realized that his crew is down to 3 votes at the Board on a Good Day. Yet Redmond will continue to enable these feeble progressive dysfunctionaries because they are his friends unable to make the connection between organizing incompetence against rampant corruption and organizing failure.

  21. Looks like Hene successfully yelled at people, hectored them and otherwise discouraged them from voting. Who wants to spend their spare time being berated for not doing enough?

  22. What catastrophe? That a left-wing Democrat cabal isn’t quite as left-wing as you personally think it should be?

  23. Will there be any accountability for this next in a string of catastrophic political failures or will the leaders involved continue to take up valuable space until they die off on us?

  24. At noon, people in the lline outside were allowed to vote. Everyone who was in line at noon voted. I was the last person in line, and I made sure of this.
    Hene Kelly, CDP Region 6 Director

  25. Hene Kelly & several others (supporting both slates,) made sure than anyone in line at 12 (whether inside, or out of the building,) had an opportunity to cast a ballot. Paul Hogarth and staff were amazing. For a day, everybody (at least the Democrats,) worked together, and well.

  26. Please clue me in as to how they won and if there are any lessons for San Francisco progs in those ADs. Nice to get some upbeat prog news, even if it isn’t from The City That Knows How.

  27. In AD 10 and AD 2, the Progressive Slate won a clean sweep, leaving the moderates in the dust. Just sayin’…

  28. Tim, why didnt you write about the election prior to the ballots being cast. 48 Hills should use its power to motivate the progressive wing of our party.

  29. Or maybe there are now a lot more moderates than progressives in SF?

    In fact, there always were, but progressives have historically punched above their weight by fair means and foul.

    But now the numbers are so heavily stacked against progressives that no amount of feet on the ground, SEIU blackmail and shrill shills can turn the tide.

    And if the majority are prevailing, then isn’t that how democracy is supposed to work? Why doesn’t Tim want the majority to have their way? Why should a minority get to impose their will on a majority, just because they are so convinced they are right?

  30. The left did a very poor job of motivating their supporters. Where were the nurses and teachers? The moderates did a great job on social media. I must have seen several mentions on Facebook from Chiu and company. The progressive effort was half assed and thats why we lost. David, Tom and the progressive clubs were mostly missing in action.

  31. You failed to mention that this was also an Ammiano vs Chiu showdown. The unions that support Chiu were in full force. And SEIU, typically Ammiano supporters, were a no show. It was all orange shirts and no purple shirts. Even the Teachers Union seemed to be absent (or just an indication that actual teacher union members have been priced out of AD17.)

    Also interesting is how un-Democratic the AD election procedure is. The “official” (ie politician sponsored) slates seemed to give lip to those who came in as independent. Overheard someone lecturing a candidate how he wasn’t following “process” ie toeing the line. And the fact that the doors were shut at 12pm sharp and if you were in line but not in the building you were shut out and not allowed to vote just seems to be the opposite of what the Democratic Party platform espouses on voter rights.

  32. I see Ron Conway mentioned quite a few times in this article and have been hearing his name more and more often. What I rarely see is Rose Pak’s name and notice she isn’t mentioned as much as she was only a few years ago. I have recently been reading more and more articles on this website so I know that we need to be afraid of Ron Conway – but what about Rose Pak? Is she someone that we progressives should still fear? Is she still as powerful as she once was? I’m sort of confused about the Rose Pak question so any help that anyone could provide would be appreciated.

  33. “Particularly when the local Democratic Party has been taken over by the landlords.” HAHA I’m beginning to laugh.

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