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News + PoliticsThe Agenda, June 13- 20: Losing DCCC members attempt...

The Agenda, June 13- 20: Losing DCCC members attempt a coup

Defying the will of the voters, lame-duck group wants to change the rules to keep power

In what can only be seen as a desperate move to undo the recent election results, a member of the Democratic County Central Committee who lost her seat is reintroducing a failed measure to change the makeup of the panel that runs the local Democratic Party.

Jane Kim has called on Scott Wiener to oppose the rules change, but Wiener isn't commenting
Jane Kim has called on Scott Wiener to oppose the rules change, but Wiener isn’t commenting

It’s pretty amazing: The DCCC already rejected this idea once before. It goes directly against the results of the election. And it would allow the current real-estate friendly leadership to say in control.

“There are some lines you just don’t cross in politics,” Sup. David Campos told me. “And one is you don’t reject the will of the voters.”

The measure, introduced by Alix Rosenthal, would expand the DCCC to include the mayor (assuming he or she is a Democrat) and all Democratic members of the Board of Supervisors (which right now is all 11 of them).

Some of those supes who have been elected to the committee would be bounced to the Ex Officio status.

Rosenthal would then add seven seats to the DCCC, four on the east side of town and three on the west. Those would be filled with the people who were closest to winning seats June 7 but didn’t quite make the cut.

In the end, nine more candidates who were not elected this time around would join the panel. Among them would be Alix Rosenthal.

Rosenthal didn’t return my calls or email.

The heated race for DCCC involved vast sums of money, most of it from the real-estate industry and Big Tech. There were a few candidates who ran on their own, but for the most part, the leading contenders were in two slates.

The Reform Slate won. Get over it
The Reform Slate won. Get over it

The Reform Democrats ran on a platform of removing Mary Jung, the Association of Realtors lobbyist who is chair of the party, from her post and promoting progressive candidates in the fall. The Jung slate attacked the reformers on every level, calling them the “Peskin Machine” and slamming them with nasty hit mailers.

Although the Reform Slate was outspent nine-to-one, most of its members were victorious. Ten incumbents lost their seats, and nine of them were members of the Real-estate Slate.

Rosenthal in the past has argued that elected officials have an unfair advantage, because name recognition is such a factor in DCCC elections. And yes, most of the elected officials who ran won – although School Board Member Rachel Norton was ousted by Leah LaCroix, who has never held any elective office. John Burton, who has about the greatest name recognition anyone in this city could want, won, but was not in the top tier, which went largely to members of the two slates.

In other words, the voters knew what they were doing, and they decided they didn’t want the Association of Realtors running the DCCC.

The losing slate has no grounds to complain: Of the 23 candidates of the losing slate, political consultant Jim Stearns notes, 21 “were either incumbents, former incumbents, elected officials or former elected officials. In a low-visibility election, the odds were stacked in their favor. Yet 14 of them still lost.”

More from Stearns: “Since the Presidential Election of 1800, America has abided by the principle that for elections to work, both sides must agree to accept the results. Here, the losers seek to rewrite the rules after the fact to make themselves winners.”

Rosenthal sent out an email – complete with an excel spreadsheet – insisting that under her plan, “the balance of power won’t change.” But that’s just wrong: Under her plan, the DCCC would expand to 52 members, and only 22 of them would be members of the Reform Slate.

In other words, the losers in the election would be in a position to create a lame-duck bylaws change that would undermine the vote of the people.

Why do this before the new DCCC takes office, which will be in a few weeks when the election results are certified? Rosenthal: “I do think it’s better to consider this proposal in June rather than waiting for the next committee to be seated, because the next committee has less incentive to increase the size of the body and dilute their own votes. And also, because I lost my race, I won’t be on the committee in July to sponsor it!”

There you have it.

Sup. Jane Kim, who is one of the Reform Slate members (and right now, the top finisher in the DCCC race) opposes the change. And she sent out a press release today calling on her state Senate opponent, Sup. Scott Wiener, who is also on the DCCC (and right now, the number two vote-getter) to oppose the change:

The voters spoke last week to elect a new Democratic Central Committee. For the outgoing committee, including many members who were defeated for re-election, to stack the body by creating new seats for themselves and adding new ex-officio members that favor the real estate lobby is a direct attempt to overturn the will of the San Francisco electorate before all the votes have even been counted.”

I talked to Kim’s campaign consultant, Eric Jaye, and he said that Wiener “has a reputation for being a fair-minded person. We will see if that’s true on Wednesday.”

I texted Wiener for comment, and – unusually – he didn’t get back to me.

The meeting is Wednesday/15 at 7pm at the state building.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

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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