Political Notebook: Political 'psychics' weigh in on 2011 scenarios

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Wednesday January 5, 2011
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Keith Baraka
Keith Baraka

To ring in the start of a brand new year, the Political Notebook is offering up something old. Once again we have asked a bevy of LGBT Bay Area residents, and a few southern Californians, for their conjecture about what may go down politically in 2011.

Last year the heated midterm elections garnered the most attention from those weighing in on likely political outcomes, whether it was in statewide races or more local electoral battles. The possibility of seeing LGBT legislation pass out of Congress also weighed heavy on the minds of those who took part in the annual column.

Some, it turned out, were using cloudy crystal balls. Among the dead wrong prognostications were Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) running to be governor of California and that Theresa Sparks would prove to be a strong contender for District 6 supervisor in San Francisco's Tenderloin and south of Market neighborhoods.

Predictions that hit their mark included surprise victories in the San Francisco supervisor races and President Barack Obama signing legislation ending the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members. Others correctly guessed that Jerry Brown would win a historic third term as California governor.

The 11 people included in last year's column proved to be pretty prescient, as only one was completely wrong in their predictions. Another was one hundred percent accurate, while the remaining nine had mixed results with their guesses.

Top concerns for the upcoming 12 months include who will be San Francisco's next mayor and district attorney, what will happen due to redistricting of legislative boundaries, and policy outcomes at the state and federal levels.

For fun, a few people are predicting 2011 could bring some headline-making gay scandals.

Without further adieu, here are some potential likelihoods to ponder as we usher in a new year:

Healthy San Francisco, our city's health access program, will start covering sex-reassignment surgery for transgender participants.

Jamie Rafaela Wolfe, Transgender activist

The mayor's race, I don't think someone running for mayor should get a leg up and serve as interim mayor. I believe the caretaker option would be best. That being said, David Chiu may just end up being the acting mayor because the Board of Supervisors may not be able to agree on who that interim caretaker mayor would be. 

I believe the mayor's race will only get more interesting as we continue into 2011. I believe Supervisor [Bevan ] Dufty will be joined by at least two other viable candidates from the LGBT community.

The district attorney's race should be interesting, too. Paul Henderson [Kamala Harris 's openly gay chief of administration] has been working very hard on his prospective race for DA and is certainly a frontrunner. He is definitely one to keep your eye on.

Even though health care reform has received challenges in court, it is my belief that the challenges will be dismissed and 43-plus million Americans without health care can breathe a (healthy) sigh of relief.

Keith Baraka, San Francisco firefighter and Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club board member

I predict that Jean Quan will be a pleasant surprise as mayor of Oakland. She has reached out to all of the right people and has shown that she understands the historic significance of her election.

I think that she will join with Rebecca Kaplan in creating a practical progressive alliance. The Port of Oakland during Quan's tenure will play a major role in expanding trade with China and LGBT people will play a major role.

I also predict that there will be a vacancy on the Oakland City Council this year, triggering yet another special election. I also predict that redistricting will set off battles for an East Bay state Senate seat and a San Leandro-area congressional seat.

In San Francisco, I predict that a name from the past will re-emerge in a major role. A San Franciscan will also be tapped for a role in the Obama administration. Willie Brown will go to Chris Daly's bar for a drink and the former supervisor will become a regular in the former mayor's column.

Lastly, I think that the dire nature of the state budget will force a mayors' summit involving the three large Bay Area cities, as well as smaller cities, for the first serious discussion about regional government. LGBT leaders will play a major role on transportation issues.

2011 will also see the trend continue of qualified LGBT candidates lining up for major races in 2012.

Michael Colbruno, Oakland political consultant and planning commissioner

San Francisco can expect a more collegiate, efficient, and productive Board of Supervisors in 2011.

Additionally, as we just saw in Oakland, rank choice voting is going to change the playing field in the 2011 San Francisco mayor's race. The candidates have their work cut out for them as a result.

The Republican Party will be split in two, especially with the ever-growing popularity of Sarah Palin and her reality TV personality. She will likely announce her presidential run at the end of 2011 and cause havoc.

Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry, which may boost the global economy for a minute, especially where the media stock is concerned.

Either the issue in Iran or North Korea will finally come to a head, which will test Obama's foreign policy capabilities. The Republicans will make sure to keep any and all of his mistakes (even minor ones) on the forefront of the media. This will make things difficult for his re-election campaign.

Congress will spend 2011 drawing battle lines for the 2012 presidential race and not get much work done in 2011. As a result, we can expect less progressive change in 2011.

The economy will improve slightly in 2011 in that unemployment will dip below 10 percent, which will give Obama an edge showing that his policies may finally be working.

Bentrish Satarzadeh, Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club co-chair

Rebecca Prozan. Photo: Rick Gerharter

There is no question that San Francisco will begin 2011 with a bang. More like two "Big Bangs:" picking replacements for Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris.

By January 8 Newsom will appoint Paul Henderson as district attorney. While Newsom is close to David Onek and has a relationship with Jim Hammer [former and current police commissioners, respectively], Newsom will decide that Paul is the most electable of the three, and the best person to continue Kamala Harris's legacy. 

With Newsom off to Sacramento, David Chiu has the inside track to interim mayor.  If Chiu cannot muster the magic number of votes by the seventh or eighth round, PUC chief Ed Harrington or Sheriff Michael Hennessey will start being mentioned by members of Chiu's progressive bloc as alternative, potential caretaker mayors " and the debate will swiftly shift. (And keep in mind while Chiu cannot vote for himself for mayor, nor can any other member of the board, other contenders who are not board members only need six votes to take the reins.)

Then the roller coaster mayor's race really begins. Overshadowing the race is the whopping budget deficit San Francisco faces again this year. The mayor and board face tough decisions about layoffs, pension reform, and city services. That will consume San Francisco until June.

All the while, Bevan Dufty, Dennis Herrera , Joanna Rees, Phil Ting, and Leland Yee will run competitive or well-funded races " or both. Why exactly is former Supervisor Tony Hall running? No matter what the word is on the street, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, soon-to-be former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier , and out state Senator Mark Leno are contemplating a run. My tip to the candidates " be careful with the ranked choice strategy.

Statewide, Governor Jerry Brown has the unenviable task of taking back the governor's office. With the budget deficit, Brown faces major battles against budget cuts.

Attorney General Harris will reform our prison system, keeping those beds for our most serious and violent offenders. As for marriage, if we lose the court battle over Proposition 8, Leno will get the marriage bill signed into law.

Nationally, President Obama will continue to come out swinging, especially after everyone thought his term was over. More LGBT appointments will be made and major strides toward ending DOMA and passing an all-inclusive ENDA will be made. Five words: Two down (Hate Crimes, DADT), two to go (DOMA and ENDA).

Rebecca Prozan, Deputy District Attorney

2011 will set the stage for how many LGBT people serve in public office, and it's too soon to tell whether we'll return our representation back to 1990s levels. With citywide elections, there were as many as three LGBT supervisors at once. In the last decade, we've had just two at once. With district elections here to stay, the redrawing of the lines will make all the difference.

The interim mayor (whoever that is), the new Board of Supervisors, and the Elections Commission will each appoint three panelists to the Redistricting Task Force, and the games will begin.

The old Harvey Milk district could be recreated, linking the Haight and Castro by uniting Duboce Triangle in one district. The Lower Polk Street Corridor, also split between two districts, could be reconnected. How the panel deals with thousands of new residents in South Beach, Mission Bay, and the Central Waterfront will shape the balance of power on the board.

Only one thing's for sure, since most of the population growth is on the city's East Side, the districts should move east, and that should increase the relative electoral strength of LGBT voters.

At the state level, the ability to retain LGBT representation in Sacramento could be threatened. If the city winds up with just one Senate or Assembly seat, that could pit qualified and capable LGBT candidates against qualified and capable Asian American candidates.

I will predict that 2011 provides the best chance to expand LGBT representation citywide. Right now, Treasurer Jose Cisneros and College Trustee Lawrence Wong are the only out citywide officials. With what are essentially open seats for mayor and district attorney, and a possible wide-open race for sheriff, we have the best chance of capturing some of these other seats. Bevan Dufty and Paul Henderson have already declared; Mark Leno and Jim Hammer have been rumored.

Here's hoping our community unifies through ranked choice voting to make sure LGBT candidates win.

Bill Barnes, City Hall aide

I think Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is going to get outed.

I am going to make the bold prediction President Obama is going to swing from civil unions to thinking that gay marriage is the right thing to do.

Melanie Nathan, Lez Get Real co-publisher and editor

While we have finally seen some real bipartisan accomplishments during the lame-duck session of Congress, with the GOP takeover in the House and the Democrats holding onto the Senate, I suspect it is going to become increasingly difficult to compromise at the federal level. The GOP is going to rightly bring up the deficit issue very early in the new Congress, and disagreements over spending will consume a lot of what happens this coming year.

While I think it unlikely that we will see another government shutdown, without agreement by the Democrats and president to reduce spending, not much else will make it through the House this term.

The economy is going to remain an important issue, however as it does slowly improve for some, and others become resigned to the fact that they are going to be out of work in the short-to-medium term, focus is going to move away from jobs and towards the long-term deficit.

Politicians are terrified that if they try to cut spending they will lose favor, however voters deserve more credit than that. Although some special interest groups " especially public employee unions " will be openly hostile to any austerity measures, most people in the U.S., like most people have in Europe, will understand that significant steps must be taken for the country's long-term fiscal health.

Because of strong support financially and in terms of campaign and get out the vote infrastructure from unions for their party, it may be difficult to get Democrats on board with some of these measures, so it's likely that we will see the House passing bills to cut spending which become deadlocked in the Senate. Unless moderates in both parties can find a way to compromise on fiscal issues, it seems likely Congress will accomplish less in the next two years than it has in the last two weeks.

Dan Brown, Log Cabin San Francisco chapter president

Nicole Murray Ramirez. Photo: Rick Gerharter

2011 will be the year that San Diego candidates get ready and "prep" for the 2012 mayor elections. All eyes will be on District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (no. 1 in recent polls) and City Councilman Carl DeMaio , both gay, Republican, and clear frontrunners for mayor.

Out state Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), who just got elected, will be getting ready for a state Senate run as lesbian state Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) is termed out in 2012. Atkins will be challenged by former state Assemblywoman Lori Saldana .

The national conversations will get louder in 2011 from those already talking about yet another LGBT march on Washington. A west cost regional office for the Harvey B. Milk Foundation could be opening up in San Diego in early 2011 ... could Stuart Milk be moving to San Diego next?

San Diego had nine elected major LGBT public office holders ... Many LGBT leaders have been privately talking about and predicting that there will soon be a public scandal concerning one of these elected officials. I predict that this "scandal" will happen in 2011.

Nicole Murray Ramirez, San Diego Human Relations Commissioner and gay newspaper columnist

I predict 2011 will be fascinating legally and politically.

For LGBT equality I'm an optimist. I think the courts will decide in our favor on marriage equality.

Politically, the future of our state doesn't seem as certain. Now that the Democrats are completely in control of our state, they will have the power to solve many of the problems we face. However, if Governor Brown and our Legislature cannot tame our crazy budget and lower a hideous unemployment rate, I don't see how voters can keep them in power.

While I sincerely wish them the best, I'm working on a back up plan. Anyone want to learn Mandarin with me?

Eric Hickok, Silicon Valley Log Cabin member

The midterm elections created real change this year that will dramatically affect national and state politics for at least the next two.

In New Hampshire, one of five states that currently have gay marriage, both houses of the state Legislature flipped last month. Democrats controlled them both when they passed gay marriage two years ago; now Republicans have "super majorities" in both houses. This is more than enough to override the governor's promised veto to save gay marriage.

There are five bills being readied to overturn gay marriage in New Hampshire. This will be the battle royale next year. The National Organization for Marriage and their Mormon puppeteers are burning the midnight oil in Salt Lake City, ready to pounce on that small state with their millions of dollars to run their next vicious campaign of hate and discrimination.

Fred Karger, Potential Republican presidential candidate

Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, will return Monday, January 10.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes.

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.