Political Notes: With DCCC race results, Breed could have edge for SF Dems endorsement

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday March 25, 2024
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Newly elected San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee members Emma Heiken, left, Mike Chen, and District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey are backing Mayor London Breed for reelection. Photos: Courtesy the subjects
Newly elected San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee members Emma Heiken, left, Mike Chen, and District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey are backing Mayor London Breed for reelection. Photos: Courtesy the subjects

With moderates set to have a majority on the body that runs the San Francisco Democratic Party, they will have a large sway over which candidates running in November races the local party will endorse. And in the battle for mayor, it appears the incumbent may have a slight edge in securing the party's support.

The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, colloquially called the D-triple-C, is made up of a mixture of elected officials automatically given seats on it and 24 members elected by Democrats in the city's two state Assembly districts. Fourteen hail from Assembly District 17, covering downtown and eastern neighborhoods like the LGBTQ Castro district, with the rest from Assembly District 19 covering the westside and much of southern San Francisco.

In its questionnaire for DCCC candidates seeking seats on the March 5 primary ballot, the Bay Area Reporter asked whom they were supporting for mayor in the November 5 general election. Challenging Mayor London Breed is former mayor and supervisor Mark Farrell, Levi Strauss heir Daniel Lurie, and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, with District 3 Supervisor and board President Aaron Peskin widely expected to also enter the race this spring. (Farrell had not announced his campaign when the paper sent out its questionnaire.)

Of the 15 people who won DCCC seats and had responded to the B.A.R.'s questionnaire, six said they are backing Breed. Among them were gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey and Emma Heiken, a legislative aide to District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar who identifies as fluid, from AD 17.

Those from AD 19 were former supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier; transit advocate Mike Chen, a gay man; affordable housing executive Parag Gupta; and union leader Dan Calamuci.

In a phone interview Chen said his "motivating issues" in determining which mayoral candidate to support largely come down to "housing, transportation, and effective government or good government." Based on those factors, he said that Breed has his support for being reelected.

Another newcomer to the DCCC, Noe Valley Democratic Club President Carrie Barnes, told neighborhood newspaper the Noe Valley Voice that she is behind Breed and believes she deserves another term.

"She has lived experience. She knows the city," Barnes told the monthly newspaper. "She is not just teleprompting in and saying she has the answers."

Eight DCCC winners had told the B.A.R. they were undecided about whom to back in the mayor's race. Three are among the incoming moderate members, including affordable health care advocate Lanier Coles in AD 19, and gay AD 17 winners Joe Sangirardi, a professional fundraiser, and Trevor Chandler, a substitute teacher who is running for District 9 supervisor.

The other five ran on the progressive's DCCC slate and included District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan and former District 4 supervisor Gordon Mar from AD 19. Those from AD 17 were attorney Michael Nguyen, a gay man also known as drag queen Juicy Liu, and former supervisors John Avalos and Jane Kim.

Nguyen told the B.A.R. in a phone interview March 22 that he has not ruled out voting to endorse Breed and is keeping his options open for the time being.

"I am still keeping an open mind. I would want to hear from everybody and need to go through the endorsement process," said Nguyen. "I am always looking for folks who are going to defend our progressive values here in San Francisco and the progressive values we fought for here in San Francisco."

Gay progressive Peter Gallotta, who works for the city's public utility commission in marketing and communications, was the only DCCC winner to emphatically tell the B.A.R. that he was not supportive of Breed in this year's mayoral race.

"I have not decided on a candidate for mayor yet, but I will not be supporting London Breed for reelection as I believe we need new leadership of our city," explained Gallotta, who who answered the B.A.R.'s questionnaire in his personal capacity and not as a city employee.

The rest of the DCCC winners are all moderates, and most either were endorsed by Breed or have ties to the mayor. The one with the closest ties to Farrell is Jade Tu, as the AD 19 resident is his mayoral campaign manager.

The seven others include District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani and Marjan Philhour, who's running for District 1 supervisor, from AD 19. Stefani is running for the legislative seat on the fall ballot.

The remainder won seats in AD 17. They are prosecutor Nancy Tung; public safety advocate Lily Ho; education leader Michael Lai; probation advisory board member Cedric Akbar; and Bilal Mahmood, who's running for District 5 supervisor.

Breed's new campaign communications director Joe Arellano did not respond to the B.A.R.'s request for comment by the deadline to do so Friday.

Her camp is reportedly angling for a sole endorsement by the local party rather than see it do a ranked endorsement. The city uses a ranked-choice voting system for local races, where voters can rank up to 10 candidates in the order of their preference with one being their top choice.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote on the first count, then the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and their voters' second choice is then tabulated. The process repeats until a winner emerges with at least 50% plus one vote.

Tu told the B.A.R. the Farrell campaign isn't taking the endorsement process for granted but acknowledged the campaign has its work cut out for it. She indicated it would behoove DCCC members to consider making a ranked endorsement in the mayoral race.

"We are taking nothing for granted, working hard to earn an endorsement, and will continue meeting with members of the DCCC to answer their questions and detail former Mayor Farrell's vision and plans for a safer, cleaner, and more vibrant San Francisco," stated Tu. "It is clear to us that no moderate will win the mayor's race without a ranked-choice voting strategy. We will be talking with members about how important it is for their endorsement to stop Supervisor Peskin from becoming mayor."

Tyler Law, a general consultant for Lurie's mayoral campaign, told the B.A.R. it wasn't writing off the party's endorsement as a foregone conclusion for Breed.

"It's encouraging that so many of the newly elected members of the DCCC campaigned on a powerful message of large-scale change that is at the heart of Daniel's campaign," stated Law. "Daniel's opponents represent a return to past failures to address crime, homelessness, and rampant corruption in City Hall. We will continue to present this clear contrast as we fight for every endorsement."

As for who is in line to succeed outgoing party chair Honey Mahogany, the first transgender person to hold the position, Tung is currently seen as having a lock on it and reportedly is the only person who has been lining up the votes for it.

The new DCCC members will be sworn in April 24 and will elect the next chair that Wednesday night. It will vote on endorsements for the fall races at a later date.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko<.

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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