Dufty endorses Prozan in D8 race
by Matthew S. Bajko
District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is endorsing his former aide and campaign worker Rebecca Prozan in the race to succeed him on the board.
For months Dufty, who is running for mayor in 2011, had refrained from backing one of the candidates seeking his seat as he endorsed candidates in other supervisor races. And at community events he went out of his way to introduce all of the District 8 candidates present, careful not to showcase a predilection for anyone.
But he early on had signaled his favorites in the campaign by donating $100 each to Prozan, an assistant district attorney, and to Laura Spanjian, an assistant general manager at the city's Public Utilities Commission. The two out lesbians had both worked on Dufty's supervisor campaign in 2002 and he has known both personally for years.
When Spanjian abruptly ended her bid last month in order to move to Houston and work for out lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, it cleared the way for Dufty to endorse Prozan.
"Her decision, which I think is a great personal decision to her, it definitely cleared the field for me to support Rebecca. I think she will be a can-do supervisor who is effective, accountable, and accomplished," said Dufty, who is termed out of office this year. "You are seeing other elected officials weigh in and make endorsements in this race. I feel people now are making their decisions on who to support and I want people to consider Rebecca carefully."
Dufty said his supervisorial endorsements are not based on his trying to line up support to be named mayor next January should Mayor Gavin Newsom be elected lieutenant governor and step down in early 2011, leaving it to the Board of Supervisors to name his replacement.
"I will unequivocally state that I will not seek to be appointed interim mayor by the Board of Supervisors. My clear intention is to run for that office," said Dufty.
So far Dufty has endorsed all women in the even numbered supervisor races. In District 10 he is backing BART board member Lynette Sweet; in District 2 he endorsed Janet Reilly; and he is backing District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu in her re-election bid. He has yet to select a candidate in District 6, a crowded field with many LGBT candidates.
"I am also looking to be mayor and looking for people I can work with very effectively on the board," said Dufty.
Prozan's professional relationship with Dufty began when she went to work for Mayor Willie Brown as his liaison to District 8 and reported to Dufty, who was the director of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services. She then served as Dufty's campaign co-chair in 2002 and briefly worked for him as a legislative aide at City Hall in 2004.
"I am honored. I am excited," Prozan said about being endorsed by Dufty. "He is very popular in the district. People know he has been responsive and has been a great leader and I look forward to hitting the campaign trail with him over the next few months."
The two leading gay male candidates in the race, Deputy City Attorney Scott Wiener and Rafael Mandelman, a local attorney, said they were not surprised by Dufty's decision and doubted it would make much difference in the race.
"Rebecca worked for him, she was his legislative aide, so it makes a lot of sense for him to endorse her. But I think he has been very fair to all of us," said Mandelman. "I think Rebecca is a strong candidate and we are friends. I think I would make a better supervisor and the voters are going to have to judge us on the merits."
Wiener also said he was not surprised by Dufty's decision.
"Bevan and Rebecca have been friends for 15 years. It is not surprising that Bevan would support his friend and, frankly, it is surprising to me it took this long for Bevan to endorse Rebecca given how personally close they are," said Wiener, who has been endorsed by openly gay state Senator Mark Leno, who previously held the District 8 supervisor seat prior to Dufty's election. "I don't think it impacts the dynamics in the race significantly. I feel very good about the momentum in my campaign. We have been out there working very hard, talking about the issues that matter in District 8. That is what is going to matter and what is going to carry the day."
Spanjian supporters break for other candidates
Dufty's endorsement is part of the scramble by all three of the leading candidates in the race to secure the backing of and financial support from people who either had been supporting Spanjian or had remained neutral because of her being in the race. All three candidates have been meeting with Spanjian herself to secure her endorsement before she leaves for Texas later this month.
"I am meeting with the candidates in the race and talking to my key supporters, and then will make a decision about endorsements," Spanjian told the Bay Area Reporter in an e-mail response to questions.
Despite Wiener and Prozan blocking Spanjian from getting the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club's endorsement last fall, a move that infuriated many of Spanjian's supporters, they have both secured backing from people who had been aligned with Spanjian in the race. Mandelman, who is more active in the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, said he had yet to do so.
Tony Winnicker, who worked with Spanjian at the PUC before becoming Newsom's spokesman this year, is now backing Wiener in the race. He said he felt Wiener would bring a voice for moderation to City Hall and comes with an understanding of how city government works.
"I have worked most closely with Scott and Laura over the years. For me it was always between Laura and Scott," said Winnicker, who came to know Spanjian very well from working on Susan Leal's 2003 mayoral campaign. "When Laura left the campaign, it wasn't a real stretch for me. I was immediately in touch with Scott. He asked for my support and I offered it immediately."
Winnicker, who no longer lives in District 8, stressed he was speaking for himself and his decision was not influenced by the fact Newsom early on had endorsed Wiener in the District 8 match-up.
"The mayor has not discussed the District 8 candidates with me. We have plenty of other things to worry about," he said, adding that, "I am glad to support the same candidate as the mayor is for District 8."
Spanjian supporter Pam David made a different calculation when determining whom to back in the race and opted to endorse Prozan. David, who in 1990 became the first out lesbian to be appointed to the staff of a San Francisco mayor, said it is critical that more women be elected to City Hall.
"I think they are all really fine people. This is San Francisco and the actual political differences between them is measured in a little finger," said David, executive director of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. "There needs to be more women on the board. Two of the current women are terming out this year and there is no guarantee they will be replaced by women. I feel City Hall has become an unfriendly place for women."
Having formerly lived in District 8 and it being seen as the "gay seat" on the board, David said she still has an intense interest in who wins the race even though she lives elsewhere. She said she felt Prozan would not only bring female leadership to the city but understands best how San Francisco City Hall operates.
"She has worked in different capacities in this city and she knows how to get things done," she said. "She is progressive but also pragmatic and that is very important to me."