2010 CA primary thoughts, with a focus on SF

(This is cross-posted at my new personal blog if you’d like to check it out there along with anything else I’ve got up. I wrote this up primarily to send around to friends asking for advice on this election, but it may be an interesting read for folks here. A lot of this is old news to Calitics readers, but I’ve focused a little bit on San Francisco.)

It’s that time of year again, my mailbox is filled with literature and my voicemail is getting stacked up with robocalls. Must be election season in California!

There’s certainly no shortage of recommendations from groups on how to vote. There are a few really solid resources out there you should know about though.

Statewide Propositions

First, check out the Courage Campaign’s June 2010 Progressive Voter Guide. It’s a short PDF that lists their position on statewide initiatives as well as the position of several other groups. As the statewide propositions go I agree with Courage’s recommendations and would encourage everyone to follow them. You can read some more in-depth arguments for these at Calitics.

Discussions about statewide candidates, San Francisco measures, and the 12th District DCCC races below the fold.

Statewide Candidates

There are also a few contested primaries in the state, some of them  with more serious competition than others. These folks should cruise  through their primaries fine, but they are deserving of your support.

Governor – Jerry Brown

Senate – Barbara Boxer

Board of Equalization – Betty Yee

Now as for the contested primaries:

Insurance Commissioner – I’m not sure there is much difference  between the two candidates but personally I prefer Hector De La  Torre here. I got a chance to hear both candidates speak at the  convention this past April and I think De La Torre relishes the idea of  taking on insurance companies a lot more than Jones does. That’s exactly  what we’re going to need.

Lieutenant Governor – I’m pretty torn as to who to support for  this race. Can they all lose? I don’t know much about Janice Hanh other than she didn’t have the smarts to stay away from one of the state’s  worst slash and burn consultants with a terrible record, Garry South.  He’s overpriced to boot. Of course Gavin Newsom hired him for his failed gubernatorial run and one could write pages about why he should leave  politics and go back to running his wine business. The sad thing is this  office gives a leg up to its holder to run for other statewide or  federal offices, and I really don’t care to see either candidate as the  future of the CA Democratic party.

Attorney General – To me this is by far the most interesting  race in this primary cycle. I’ve been a Kamala Harris partisan  from the start, and for good reason. Kamala has an incredible record and story.  She is a transformational change type candidate and if she wants it  she’ll have great potential for higher office beyond the Attorney  General’s office. She’s the kind of person we need to elevate in  California, the kind of person that’s going to take on the status quo  and get things done. She’s also shown incredible fundraising prowess for  an Attorney General’s race, proving she’s well placed to compete in the  fall and beyond.

Now with respect and apologies to friends that are working on this campaign I have to specially call out Chris Kelly as the absolute worst candidate in the race. He’s exactly the kind of guy that we don’t  need anywhere near elected office in this state. He’s self funded his race to the tune of $8 Million to $10 Million eclipsing all the other  candidates. His announcement video literally had no compelling story as to why he was running other than people told him that it’d be swell if he ran. And to make matters worse he literally has no relevant experience for this office other than the fact he has a JD. When the race started he billed himself as the “Chief Privacy  Officer at Facebook” to trade on that name. Now that Facebook’s privacy  reputation has been seriously damaged, much of it under his direction  and tenure, he’s downplayed that experience. But seriously, check out this chart describing how privacy has eroded over the years. That’s pretty much the opposite of privacy. You should also check out this video the Harris campaign made by simply  correcting one of his ads. We do not need wealthy unqualified candidates buying an office because they feel entitled to it. So whoever you vote for here, say no to Chris Kelly.

San Francisco Measures

If you live in San Francisco then you’ve also got a number of local ballot measures to vote for as well. I don’t mind direct democracy, but I really don’t like all the minutiae SF takes to the voters. That’s why we elect supervisors and a mayor, and we should let them do their jobs and hold them accountable. Even as a pretty highly informed voter I don’t feel qualified to make some of these choices that basically come to you in a vacuum. There are a few good examples of that on this ballot.

Prop A: YES – Renew the tax. With the GOP shock doctrining the state, I’m glad we’re taking care of our own infrastructure.

Prop B: YES – The main reason the entire city was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake wasn’t the quake, it was the resulting fires and our inability to put them out. And Chris Daly is an idiot.

Prop C – YES – Some part of this is about board of supes vs. mayor politics. But more importantly it gives the commission more authority to promote filming in the city and requires the city to focus on it for future economic development.

Prop D – YES – No strong argument against this, if the bean counters say city employees need to contribute more I guess we should have them do so.

Prop E – NO – This is the board playing politics with the mayor’s office (and the police department) plain and simple. The board would inevitably use this information to club the current mayor for doing his or her job. Don’t give them more ammo.

Prop F – YES – Unless there is a good argument against it I’m pretty much always in favor of tougher rent control provisions.

Prop G – YES – It’s sort of silly we even have to vote on this.

DCCC, 12th District

My main advice here is look for up and coming activists on the ballot and vote for them. Paul Hogarth has a great piece on the problems with San Francisco’s DCCC and how they are unique to our city, check it out.

In my opinion the DCCC spot is best suited for those up and coming activists that might have a future as elected officials and/or will actually get out and work for the party. It is not the place for elected officials to go to a) have a home while they are between offices b) make life miserable for political foes or c) get around fundraising and endorsement regulations.

In many counties around the state if you get on the ballot and run a reasonably serious grassroots campaign, you’re in. In San Francisco you can raise 10’s of thousands of dollars and still get shut out. And that’s hurting the bench for our next generation of leaders.

5 thoughts on “2010 CA primary thoughts, with a focus on SF”

  1. Just out of curiosity, are you really from SF? Most progressive San Franciscans I’ve talked to are torn on the Lt. Guv race only because some would vote for Newsom just to get him out of the city, while others think we should “take a hit for the team” just to end his political career. Personally, I thought hard and decided to side with the latter. Newsom is so awful (Schwarzenegger-like all-cuts budgets, no taxes ever, no help for renters, etc., etc.) that having him mayor for one more year is just the price we need to pay in order to stop him in his tracks. The rest of CA can thank us later for putting up with him that extra year.

    Key question I always ask my moderate friends about Newsom: “Other than gay marriage, and gay marriage, and gay marriage… tell me, what would a Republican mayor do diferently than Gavin Newsom?” Thus far, it has stumped them every time.

    At least Janice Hahn is in favor of split roll!

    As for Kamala Harris… probably nothing I can say to convince you otherwise. The people who support Kamala Harris tend to be pretty strident partisans… but think about this. If she actually wins the general, Newsom appoints her replacement, and if his police chief (who brought his Arizona values with him to SF) is any indication, he’ll likely appoint a hard-nosed pro-death penalty law-and-order conservative. One informed source told me that it could well be Bill Fazio, exactly what we don’t need. If you really live here, that should make you very afraid.

    Much more likely, however, is the even-worse scenario that the Republicans will demolish her in the general. Her low conviction rate and the problems with the crime lab will be used against her, rightly or wrongly. And she stuck to her guns on opposition to the death penalty, even for a cop killer. She was right, of course (perhaps one of the few things she did right), but what gets her accolades in SF won’t fly statewide. She’ll be toast when the Republican machine gets through with her, and we’ll be stuck with the worst AG since Lungren. Much better to stop her now, at the primary.

    And just a couple words about the DCCC…

    I totally agree that electing grass-roots activists is a good thing, and that elected officials shouldn’t park themselves there and exploit loopholes.

    But the other side of that coin is that a corporate machine basically controlled the DCCC for too long through a combination of big money and undemocratic proxy votes that elected officials get. Most people don’t realize that Dianne Feinstein actually has a vote on the DCCC. She never shows up, but always sends her proxy to vote against progressive candidates and initiatives. That’s just one example. So a couple of years ago some progressive electeds got together and formed a slate to wrest control of the DCCC, and they won. But they did it by putting some well-known names on the ballot. At least the supervisors who got elected, got elected by the people, and they actually show up! The various higher-level electeds have permanent seats, and use their proxy votes.

    All this matters, of course, because the DCCC is extremely powerful in SF. The DCCC controls endorsements in a city where Democrats rule.

    What you talk about is important, but I’m not willing to unilaterally cede control of the most powerful party organ in the city just so progressives can “lose with honor” to the corporate elites who held sway for so long.

    And by the way, I know Paul Hogarth. He’s a strong progressive. And while I haven’t talked to him about his specific endorsements, I would be absolutely shocked and floored if he recommended, in the name of reform, to forego voting for fantastic electeds like Sandra Fewer, John Avalos, Eric Mar, Milton Marks, and Jake McGoldrick.

    I have my own preferences for DCCC, of course. But don’t take my word for it. Look up the recommendations of progressive, grass-roots activist organizations like The Sierra Club, The California Nurses Association, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, or the San Francisco Tenants Union. All of them are pretty much in line with who they recommend (plus/minus a couple names here and there). You can’t go too far wrong with any of those lists.  

  2. It’s been awful trying to get reasonable information on this race (the state guide is almost no help – maybe I should vote for the candidate who wrote the most grammatical essay?) I’m looking for a progressive candidate who will also support parent-sponsored public charter schools.


  3. No question here….the only candidate who got the single endorsement of Labor, teachers, equality CA, School employees….and public safety.  Vote for Torlakson.

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