OPINION With the election on the horizon, declared candidates have hired their campaign consultants, tested the field with expensive polls, and hit the city's political club circuit hoping to lock up early endorsements. Unfortunately, the race getting the bulk of the attention is not San Francisco's political watermark, November's mayoral contest. It's not even the new super-duper Tuesday presidential primary in February. As crazy as it may seem, the election getting the most attention in San Francisco right now is the June 2008 California State Senate primary.
After several months of polling and speculation, on March 2 Assemblymember Mark Leno announced that he would be challenging former ally and incumbent senator Carole Migden.
Make no mistake about it: Migden is one of the most fearsome politicians in Sacramento. She knows how to stand up to the governor, and she has a long list of progressive accomplishments, including authoring the state Clean Water Act, enabling local governments to do community choice aggregation, and protecting the vulnerable from predatory lending. Migden is already endorsed by progressive supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Gerardo Sandoval, progressive school board commissioner Eric Mar, former president of the Board of Supervisors Harry Britt, and progressive activists Debra Walker and Michael Goldstein. She's also up double digits, so it's time we call this one for Migden and get on with the job of putting a progressive in the Mayor's Office.
Progressives know that to defeat Mayor Gavin Newsom this year, we will have to mount a significant and focused grassroots campaign. Any distractions will be costly. Migden-Leno is clearly a major distraction. Leno's challenge takes both Leno and Migden off the progressive list of possible mayoral candidates. And more important, progressive energy, volunteers, and money that should be going into the effort to defeat Newsom will be gobbled up by the State Senate race.
Leno's longtime political consulting firm, Barnes, Mosher, Whitehurst, and Lauter, is probably best known for its role in successfully challenging San Francisco's soft-money regulations and then managing the record-shattering $3.2 million soft-money operation to reelect Mayor Willie Brown in 1999. BMW went on to help elect Newsom in 2003.
BMW not only provides the money and operations to get its candidates elected; the firm also by its own proud account seeks to influence these elected officials to get deals done for its corporate clients.
One of BMW's biggest corporate clients is the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which opposed San Francisco's minimum-wage and paid-sick-leave laws and is now suing the city to stop it from enacting our universal health care plan. Progressives shouldn't allow Leno and BMW to advance up the political ladder. *
Supervisor Chris Daly represents District 6.
Next week: "Why we're with Mark Leno," by Theresa Sparks and Cecilia Chung.