Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom’s first campaign ad touts his “courage” for marrying same-sex couples in San Francisco 14 years ago, a move that bucked state law and catapulted the former San Francisco mayor into national headlines.
But closer to home, the nation’s historic first LGBT Democratic club has voted “no endorsement” for the June gubernatorial primary, leaving the slick-haired trailblazer out in the cold.
The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club announced its endorsements Tuesday, and backed the potential first gay mayor of San Francisco, Mark Leno, as well as gay supervisorial candidate Rafael Mandelman — the latter in itself being a unique endorsement, as the center-leaning Democratic club rarely backs “lefty” progressives.
As to why the club did not endorse Newsom, “we don’t ask members why they vote one way or the other,” club co-presidents Gina Simi and Eric Lukoff wrote to me in a statement.
The pair continued, “While many continue to support Lt. Governor Newsom, the majority supported Supt. Delaine Eastin – and as you know, she also earned our PAC’s recommendation. She ultimately wasn’t officially endorsed, but we believe it demonstrates that our Club members consider candidates on their own merits.”
Rumors swirled that Newsom failed to submit a questionnaire, which would make the no-endorsement a simple technicality. The co-presidents said that was not the case.
“It’s true his campaign did not return a questionnaire or send a representative to speak at our PAC meeting,” Simi and Lukoff said, but the club bylaws would still allow a Newsom endorsement.
The club’s members simply voted against him.
Though Newsom’s campaign did not send a questionnaire, the day the vote took place Newsom sent a kiss-and-makeup letter to the Toklas club. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t take).
“I have always appreciated Alice’s support for my candidacies for Supervisor, Mayor, and Lieutenant Governor,” Newsom wrote, “I do wish I could have personally presented my candidacy for Governor before your Board-PAC meeting this past weekend, and do look forward to seeing you all in the near future.”
Importantly, Newsom is neck and neck with former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the polls, at 23 percent and 21 percent favorability among likely voters, according to a February poll conducted for the Public Policy Institute of California.
Former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano was a supervisor during Newsom’s mayorship, and argued he was quick to take ownership of issues others long worked on, from citywide universal healthcare to cannabis legalization — which informed San Franciscans keenly remember.
“Sometimes, familiarity breeds contempt,” Ammiano said.
Tom Temprano, an out gay member of City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, said perhaps the non-endorsement was a sign of the low campaign presence Newsom seems to have in San Francisco, which many view as all sewn up for the candidate.
As a politician who has organized in The City, Temprano said “My phone is non-stop ringing about the mayor’s race. It has not rung at all about these statewide primaries.”
Temprano is a member of another major San Francisco LGBT group, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, which is expected to make its endorsements next week.
Things are looking shaky for beleaguered District Attorney George Gascon in a firefighter’s union poll conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, which consisted of calls to more than 400 city voters.
Much has been made of the poll’s results showing Supervisor Jane Kim pushing ahead in the mayor’s race, but it also shows 44 percent of The City hasn’t even heard of Gascon.
The district attorney had 38 percent favorability, and 18 percent un-favorability among likely voters. Long-time political consultant Jim Ross said those numbers are not “indicative of support or opposition,” but they aren’t where an established incumbent would expect to be with voters.
Gascon’s history of running uncontested races may be part of that, Ross said. In a vacuum, they may not be so bad, he added, but Gascon “has a bunch of other issues.”
The Police Officer’s Association and others are quick to lay San Francisco’s car break-in epidemic at the feet of lax punishments for offenders, for which they blame Gascon, for instance. That’s a wide-open opportunity for challengers like former police commissioner Suzy Loftus and fire commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese to attack.
Ross noted Loftus is particularly well-liked among San Francisco Democrats and could mount a truly competitive race against Gascon in 2019.
“He’s facing really strong challengers,” Ross said.