Dufty continues to retool mayoral campaign
by Matthew S. Bajko
As he celebrates his first major endorsement for mayor, former Supervisor Bevan Dufty continues to retool his campaign.
He is ditching his mid-Market office space near 6th Street and moving into the Castro by the end of the month. His current campaign manager will be replaced; he has brought aboard a fiscal team to raise money; and he has settled on a new logo.
The changes are just the latest course adjustments Dufty has made as the field of candidates continues to expand and his own supporters' critiques grew louder over how he was managing his mayoral bid. In February Dufty parted ways with his out-of-town consultant, Steve Hildebrand, who was dealing with his mother's death, and hired San Franciscan Michael Terris.
Shortly thereafter Dufty announced he was abandoning his self-imposed restriction to limit donations at $200 from only people who live and work in San Francisco. That led to his gaining the endorsement last weekend of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, as the Bay Area Reporter reported on its website Saturday.
"Bevan is obviously highly qualified to lead San Francisco, and his passion for the city is well-known. He's focused on one goal – improving the lives of all San Franciscans through government that works," stated Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, in officially announcing the endorsement this week. "Bevan's commitment to city neighborhoods is legendary, and as a parent he's focused on making sure San Francisco's future is even brighter than its illustrious past."
Pushing to see Dufty receive the endorsement were a trio of lesbian friends: former San Francisco Supervisor Leslie Katz, who sits on the Victory campaign board, and Joyce Newstat and Laura Spanjian, who helped organize the fund's 2009 annual meeting in San Francisco. Newstat also sits on the fund's Leadership Institute board of directors.
Dufty, who attended the national group's training for candidates last month in Las Vegas, was in Washington, D.C. last weekend to attend the fund's 20th anniversary brunch and met with its executive committee about being endorsed. He is hoping it will give him the same boost in attracting financial support nationally as Annise Parker saw when she first ran for mayor of Houston two years ago, becoming that city's first lesbian mayor.
"The Victory Fund played a very important role of raising national visibility about her campaign and providing ongoing counsel and support," said Dufty. "I called the Victory Fund endorsement a tough love endorsement because they carefully assess a candidate's viability. They were direct with me that I had made some decisions about my campaign that were making good statements but the best statement I could make was to win this election."
While back in the nation's capitol Dufty also hosted a fundraiser at the home of Peter Kazon, whom he dated in the 1980s, and his longtime partner, Paul Cunningham, also a friend of Dufty's. The event netted $20,000, and Dufty expects to hold similar fundraisers with friends in Seattle, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and New York.
Back home Dufty is in the process of hiring a seasoned campaign manager as Bob Michitarian, a lawyer with little political experience, transitions to a volunteer role as a campaign co-chair. Earlier this month Dufty hired Jessica Epstein, an attorney who worked on several campaigns in New York City, as his deputy campaign manager for political affairs.
Overseeing his three-person fundraising team is finance director Jill McCarthy, who worked for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Assisting McCarthy will be Janine Salalac and Caitlin Jacobson.
This month Dufty also settled on a new campaign logo that incorporates his much-discussed man with a square head figure and the tagline "He Gets the Big Picture." Superimposed over a bluish background of photos from various San Francisco neighborhoods are the words "Bevan Dufty Mayor" in white lettering with the emphasis on Dufty.
"We wanted to do something that would grab the eye and hopefully help further our grassroots approach to the campaign," said Dufty of the design.
By April 1 Dufty will have moved his headquarters into a portion of the vacant second floor space at the Market and Noe Center, the Castro District building Trader Joe's had looked at leasing. The address is the same one the No on Prop 8 campaign called home in 2008.
Despite that campaign's inability to block passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, Dufty said he is not worried of any lasting bad karma impacting his mayoral bid. He said the location is not only in the heart of his old supervisor district but will be easy for volunteers to access on nights and weekends.
"While the results of the Prop 8 campaign were very disappointing and devastating, I look at that space and remember the energy and great work done by the people on that campaign," said Dufty. "This location will energize my volunteers. It is the perfect fit and it is where I want to be."