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News + Politics The 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

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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.

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.

68 COMMENTS

  1. yea, well at the end of the day the point is it’s either A) good for SF or it’s B) bad for SF. I think giving a voice to more people is better. I think that more candidates is better. I think that creating a crucible for new ideas to come out of is better. People use their DCCC positions to attain higher office as a name recognition thing. It’s about consolidating power. It’s dirty. It sucks. Anyone who defends it suck. For example, you suck. Your opinion sucks. And the fixers on the DCCC suck. You’re the people who got Donald Trump elected. It’s just all gross. Get it off me.

  2. With all due respect, John. You appear to be terribly näive about what was going on here. Alix may have once been for “good, fair, and reasonable governance,” but that’s not what this is about. The timing of her proposal and the outcome it would create make it patently obvious that this is an attempted power move.

    Though It’s virtually certain this wasn’t initially plotted by her or at least her alone. She’s just the one who was chosen to carry it out. Now she’s stuck being the fall person, which may not be entirely fair, but ultimately she knows this is very dirty politics and she should absolutely be held accountable and called out for it.

  3. I dunno… sounds like a hit piece again Alix. Again. More bullying, more twisting facts. Sounds like she was pretty honest and straight forward. Sounds like people with name recognition getting all the seats is just like incest or something. We can do a lot worse than having some new blood in our politics instead of the same old names. Giving them more power is a disaster. Why, look what Tim Redmond is doing with his power… he’s using it to smear and bash Alix, who in my eyes hasn’t done anything but try to change something for the better. Dilution of votes and all… I detest the DCC, how it works, what it does. It’s a despicable organization that clouds the water with it’s insider machine that keeps anyone who is “other” far far away. It’s gross. You can not like Alix’s politics (I mostly don’t), but there is a person under there who is for good, fair and reasonable governance. Writing this article like you have isn’t nice, isn’t fair and isn’t anything but bullying in my opinion. Not that Mr. Redmond could give a shit about my opinion. Or anyone else’s.

  4. How many other items on your ballot instructed you to fill in more than one arrow, let alone 14, from a list of 40 choices? If any current supervisor runs, they’re pretty much guaranteed a win, no? Let’s just save money on flyers and give them a seat, while opening up new seats for no-name political aspirants.

    Like I said, we shouldn’t do that now, where it seems like a power grab, but the core of the idea has merit. That’s all.

  5. What makes this so astounding is that a whopping 8, maybe 9, of the people who voted for this last time, have now been voted out of office.

  6. When did it become past practice for sitting Supes to run for the DCCC? I always thought the purpose of the DCCC was as a farm team – to cultivate and train new persons in electoral politics and give them a chance at name recognition.

  7. “but the current DCCC electoral process is an exercise in ballot instruction comprehension and name recognition more than anything else, with a clear bias towards incumbent politicians.”

    How is this different than any other race, for any elected seat? (All elections are about name recognition with clear bias towards incumbents, duh.) And how does Rosenthal’s proposal address this problem in any meaningful way?

    There’s no way to put a positive spin on this. It’s an utterly blatant attempt to undermine the outcome of an election by the people who lost. Period.

  8. Imagine a scenario where the progressives ran a slate of grassroots activists with poor name recognition against a slate of sitting and former members of the Board of Supervisors. Would Tim feel the same way about this proposal?

    I agree that a change like this shouldn’t happen immediately after an election, but the current DCCC electoral process is an exercise in ballot instruction comprehension and name recognition more than anything else, with a clear bias towards incumbent politicians. If there’s a fair way to remove that bias, we should.

  9. anyone who wants to be on the SF DCCC so badly they are willing to engage in nonsense like this needs some serious help. The SF DCCC is one of the most mind numbingly boring things to serve on and holds its meeting in a state-sponsored dungeon. Surely Ms. Rosenthal has better things to do with her time than act like a crazy person mad the voters didn’t vote for her?

  10. If they actually do this, there needs to be a considered and escalated response: something that actually punishes the DCCC and limits its power, particularly its DINO endorsements.

    This is a local example of the money-fueled and rigged system that Bernie Sanders complained about. His revolution didn’t lead to his nomination, but it should be a lesson for local and state party groups whose members cling to power at all costs. We’ve already seen the shredding of the Republican Party. Unless the Democratic Party shapes up and sheds its big money and corporate influences, it could suffer the same fate as well.

  11. We don’t like the way you won so we’re stealing democracy from you. Yep that sounds about right in today’s money wins politics and damn the will of the people atmosphere. TIME FOR PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES MY FRIENDS AND SOMEONE BRING THE TAR AND FEATHERS THIS TIME! Weiner is a dick btw…just sayin

  12. ¤ Rosenthal should know better than to make such a blatant maneuver. Perhaps some sort of superdelegate system where decisions are made in private and then slipped onto our plates alongside what people actually vote for. That’s the DNC way, after all.

Comments are closed.

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