Political Notebook: D8 candidates open campaign headquarters
by Matthew S. Bajko
This month the four leading candidates in the race to succeed termed out District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty are kicking their bids into high gear with the opening of their campaign headquarters. And as they say in real estate, location is everything.
Three out of the four have staked claim to spaces in the Castro, considered the heart of the district since the District 8 seat is seen as the LGBT community's seat. Yet geographically the gayborhood is in the northernmost section of the district, which also includes Noe Valley, Diamond Heights, and Glen Park.
So far the sole District 8 supervisor candidate opting to open a campaign headquarters outside the Castro is Rebecca Prozan . She recently secured the storefront at 1195 Church Street, home to a former bead store, at the busy intersection of Church and 24th Street, where a bus line and the J-Church Muni line both stop.
Prozan, an out lesbian, is looking to bolster her name recognition outside the Castro, where she lives and is already well known within LGBT circles.
"We wanted visibility somewhere else in the district," said Prozan, an assistant district attorney, who plans to begin working in the space by July 17.
Having examined the races won by past candidates in 2000 and 2002, Prozan said neither of the eventual winners, Mark Leno and Bevan Dufty , carried the Castro. And with four competitive openly gay candidates in the race this year, it is expected that voters outside the Castro will play an even more pronounced role in determining this year's winner.
Nonetheless, Prozan said she has no plans to ignore the neighborhood as she campaigns for the seat this fall.
"I am working just as hard in the Castro as I am in Noe Valley, Glen Park, and Duboce Triangle. I leave no stone unturned," said Prozan.
Back when Dufty ran his first race for the District 8 seat, his landing a space on Market Street (where gay bar Trigger is now) for his campaign HQ was seen as a coup that helped to boost his name ID with voters. Gay businessman Bill Hemenger is hoping for the same effect by locating his campaign nerve center at class=uistorymessage>2324 Market Street, formally home to a candle shop.
It is just a few doors down from where Dufty's 2002 space was and has had oversized "Hemenger for Supervisor" signs in the window now for months. He expects to finalize his lease for the storefront and open the office by July 25.
"There is no denying that people, especially in Noe Valley and Diamond Heights, drive through the Castro every day. The highest traffic will be on Market Street," said Hemenger in explaining why he wanted a site along the thoroughfare. "It is not meant to shun Glen Park and Diamond Heights, but really that is the biggest reason for being in the Castro right now."
Yet Hemenger, who lives in Diamond Heights, said he is also scouring for a second space in Noe Valley. Like Prozan, Hemenger said he is convinced the race this year will be won or lost outside the Castro.
"Noe Valley is really important to us. It is a great neighborhood where we need more of a presence," said Hemenger. "For us, I think, it is a key neighborhood. If you look at the numbers, it will not be won in the Castro."
Gay attorney Rafael Mandelman nabbed the storefront at 2231 Market Street after clothing company Solis closed up shop this spring. He said he wanted the site for two reasons: easy access to public transportation and visibility.
"It is just maximizing visibility and easy access for volunteers," said Mandelman, who moved in this past weekend and is planning an official opening for July 24 at 10 a.m.
Yet he, too, was quick to add that, "We are going to be spending a lot of time in other parts of the district."
Nor is he worried that basing his campaign in the Castro will be a disadvantage in reaching voters in other neighborhoods. He pointed to Leno's and Dufty's strong showings outside the Castro despite their having their campaign headquarters there as proof an office location has little negative impact.
"I think those examples show you can have a headquarters in the Castro and be strong in other areas of the district," said Mandelman, who lives near Dolores Park.
The only candidate yet to disclose where his HQ will be located is gay deputy city attorney Scott Wiener. This week Wiener would only confirm he is in talks for a storefront somewhere in the Castro.
"We are very close to finalizing something," said Wiener, who hopes to have the space open by the end of the month.
He, too, discounted the notion that having a Castro-centric campaign office would somehow hamper his ability to draw support from voters in other neighborhoods.
"I don't think so. I have been campaigning hard in Noe Valley and Glen Park and every neighborhood in the district," said Wiener, who lives in the Castro. "Really it is about the message, not about where you locate your headquarters. I am running a district-wide campaign and that's what matters."
As for Dufty, who has endorsed Prozan in the race, he said he is surprised to see the other candidates not opt to open their headquarters outside the Castro.
"I definitely think the Castro knows the candidates far better than other parts of the district, so there is value in establishing a stronger identity in Noe Valley or Glen Park. I kind of expected to see candidates go there," said Dufty, whom Prozan consulted with prior to finalizing her lease in Noe Valley. "There are such strong campaigns being run from four LGBT candidates; I kind of expected to see someone operate elsewhere."
At the same time, he said he understands why the Castro is such a strong draw.
"There is tremendous energy there and everyone loves to come to the neighborhood," he said.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column looks at which dueling Muni reform measures the D8 candidates support.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.