The State of California is the site of two pretty contentious and very important races. First, the race for Governor between former Governor Jerry Brown and Ebay Billionaire Meg Whitman. Second, the race for US Senate between Senator Barbara Boxer and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Whitman and Fiorina have poured millions - one hundred plus million in Whitman's case - to beat our excellent Democratic Candidates. California's Democrats are cobbling together small contributions to fight back against the millionaires.
So what is the San Francisco Democratic Party doing with its coffers in this key election cycle? Spending tens of thousands of dollars to defeat a Democrat in a local Supervisor race.
The San Francisco District 8 Supervisor Race has taken a bizarre turn and become extremely nasty over the last couple of weeks. It started with 2 negative mailers from outside the campaigns of dubious accuracy (or at the very least misleading). The negative mailers were targeted at one candidate - Scott Wiener - in a four candidate race. One of them was from the SF Tenants Union, an organization that endorsed only one candidate - Rafael Mandelman despite the SF voting being a "ranked choice" system. The other mailer used the same clip art - the mailers were clearly coordinated, and followed by a mailer from the Tenant Union for Mandelman with the same clip art. OK - so obviously I believe that the mailers were coordinated with Mandelman's campaign or his backers.
Wiener fired back on defense, and also sent out some disappointing (to me) attack mailers of his own. This back and forth was very annoying given that I felt this money could be spent better in general, and I had hoped for a clean race because I saw a lot of positives in both candidates.
Then I got this email from the Democratic Party of San Francisco. This is not the Tenants Union which has an obligation to push tenants rights as much as possible, or the California Nurses Association which has a turf war going on with the United Healthcare Workers. This is the official Democratic Party in San Francisco. You know, the organization that nominated Barack Obama for President, and what not?
The Democratic Party of SF has pumped money into a non-partisan race to run negative ads against a Democratic Candidate. This Candidate, Scott Wiener does not have the official endorsement of the Democratic Party in SF - an endorsement that is chosen at a beauty pageant held by party representatives in the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC). He does, however, have the official endorsement of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House - the second most visible Democrat in the Nation and the Congresswoman from San Francisco.
In a city like San Francisco, where Republicans have little to no chance in non partisan City races, the DCCC should probably not be endorsing anyone, and if they do, I don't see the value in pumping a lot of money into promoting said candidate. But there is no excuse for putting money into negative ads against a specific Democratic candidate in an election cycle with two critical Statewide races where the Democrat is likely to be outspent. Not only are they paying for the mailer, but this implies paying for polling to determine which candidate to go negative against.
And suffice to say - the mailer itself is "sketchy". As you will be able to tell - I am supporting Scott Wiener for Supervisor. Sadly this diary will mostly be defense. That's why campaigns like Mandelman's (through his proxies or patrons) are willing to run misleading negative ads - in order to take the candidate off message and force him to play defense. I have no respect for that - despite respect for Mandelman's positions on the majority of issues. The campaign strategy is inexcusable - if Brown were to lose it would do far more damage to SF than any Supervisor could ever do.
- "Wiener is supported by Republicans". Glenn Beck would support Barack Obama if his only other choice was Dennis Kucinich. I'm not comparing Wiener to Obama or Mandelman to Kucinich - the point is that an endorsement by "the San Francisco Young Republicans" in a non-partisan race with no Republican candidates in the field doesn't really mean much.
- Wiener does not have a pro tenant record. Wiener has been forced to play defense on this one. It's one thing if Jack Conway puts out an ad about Aqua Buddha - that really happened. But Scott Wiener does have a pro tenant record. There is absolutely a difference between Mandelman and Wiener on what are called "Condo Conversions" - the conversion of a single multiple unit building into multiple single unit building. This is a topic on which I could have a long winded discussion (think Prop 13) on but I do not believe - nor does Scott - that accelerating Condo Conversions is bad policy.
- WIENER’S ELECTION COULD HAVE DEVASTATING RESULTS ON DISTRICT 8 HEALTH CARE - This one is really convoluted. Basically a bunch of dots are connected between some shady PAC-like entity which sent out some mailers for Scott. This entity took money from the SF Chamber of Commerce, which is connected to Sutter Health, which wants to build a new hospital, and the line of reasoning is that this will result in the closure of two other hospitals. They then remove all the degrees of separation in the middle and say "Scott Wiener wants to close St Luke's". Weak Sauce. This is addressed in a letter from someone in Scott's campaign, in depth.
- WIENER SUPPORTS DEPORTATION OF INNOCENT UNDOCUMENTED YOUTH - also false. See Scott's rebuttal.
- THE SAN FRANCISCO DEMOCRATIC PARTY DOES NOT SUPPORT SCOTT WIENER - this is very weak. The mailer indicates that Mandelman was the first choice of the party, then Rebecca Prozan. The endorsement of the Democratic Party is done in a vote of the Democratic County Central Committee. Wiener lost a close vote with Mandelman. Since SF has ranked choice voting they will make 2nd and 3rd choice endorsements. When Wiener didn't get the first endorsement, he decided to pull his name out. One can't say for sure he would have gotten the 2nd choice endorsement, he could have lost the 2nd place vote on the exact same "party line vote". Suffice to say he had almost 50% of the vote in the DCCC - and the DCCC is only tangentially related to the population of the party at large - the members are elected en masse in July by voters who really don't know who the people they are voting for are - you get to vote for TWELVE candidates out of twenty something.