U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a former San Francisco prosecutor, speaks at the launch rally for her presidential campaign on Jan. 27, 2019 in Oakland.

While some SF officials back homegrown presidential hopeful Harris, others are feelin’ the Bern

On Guard column header Joe

Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris may have developed her career in the bloody-knuckle world of San Francisco politics, but that doesn’t mean her support here is uniform.

While some are favoring our former arbiter of law and order, other politicos here are definitely feeling the Bern.

Harris, whose presidential run spurred dozens of think pieces analyzing her turn as San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2010, has been highlighted for espousing leftist ideals despite her former role as a conservative-leaning top cop.

That divide is evident in her support among local San Francisco electeds.

Perhaps Harris’ biggest local backer (besides Da Mayor, Willie Brown) is Mayor London Breed. That’s not exactly a shock, as Harris backed Breed’s mayoral run mightily.

And among electeds who run in San Francisco’s moderate Democrat camp, squarely centrist in terms of our local politics, state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu are both Harris endorsees as well.

“Since our work together as criminal prosecutors in the San Francisco DA’s office over two decades ago, I’ve known Kamala to be a fearless leader who is brilliant, principled, tough and charismatic,” Chiu said in a statement.

As it so happens, a few folks are also vying for Harris’ old job as DA. Of those major candidates, two — former police commissioner Suzy Loftus and Leif Dautch, a state deputy attorney general — both favor Harris.

“I’ve been with Kamala Harris since she was deep in third place in her upstart race for San Francisco DA,” Loftus told me. “She’s a fighter who’s trained in the rough-and-tumble of San Francisco politics.”

DA candidate Chesa Boudin said, coyly, “any Democrat who can beat Trump will get my vote.”

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s leftiest-lefties are backing Bernie, who as it happens is set to rally at Fort Mason Sunday afternoon.

That divide is reflected among the candidates for District 5 supervisor, who would represent the Haight, the Fillmore and other neighborhoods. Supervisor Vallie Brown, the incumbent, supports Harris, while self-described Democratic Socialist D5 candidate Dean Preston favors Bernie.

Former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano is also all in for Sanders, and announced his endorsement two weeks ago at an SF Berniecrats event.

“Bernie has followed up in a way we couldn’t even dream of, his impact,” Ammiano said. He particularly liked Bernie talking about the disability community, he told the gathered Berners.

“Bernie and I are the same age,” Ammiano told the crowd, winding them up. “But that doesn’t mean anything. Just the other day we pulled an all-nighter and didn’t get up once to pee!”

Among other supervisor, Hillary Ronen told me she donated to Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, and Sandra Lee Fewer said she’d back whoever is officially endorsed by the Democratic Party “1,000 percent.”

Supervisor Matt Haney is also for Harris, noting that he worked for her and starred as a hokey “investigator” in a campaign video for her state attorney general run. Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee said he had not yet “picked” a presidential candidate.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman gave me a chuckle. While he said he hasn’t made an official pick, he did say “I’m excited about Mayor Pete,” referring to South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg who wants to be the United States’ youngest president. Uh-huh.

Now let me be clear: While I don’t think folks in Iowa will necessarily be knocking down the San Francisco Board of Supervisors doors’ to hear about their endorsements, I do think it’s an interesting thought exercise to see who backs her here.

And it’s revelatory of our own local officials’ politics, too.

* * *

Please take a moment of silence to remember a fallen San Franciscan, as March 21 marked the fifth anniversary of Alejandro Nieto’s death. The S.F. native lost his life in a hail of 59 San Francisco Police Department bullets on Bernal Hill in 2014, in a tragic incident where the police claimed they mistook his taser for a gun.

Longtime readers may remember that Nieto and I went to Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School together. While we butted heads back then — heck, our mothers were even called into the principal’s office to resolve our differences — he found Bhuddism later in life, and became a peaceful man.

I’m not terribly religious, but I will be trekking up to Bernal Hill soon to pray. His death was more than his death, if that makes sense — the symbolism of a city newcomer calling 911 on a brown man in a red jacket in a gentrifying community, leading to police violence, cut many of us deeply.

Keep Nieto’s family and loved ones in your heart.

* * *

To end on a less somber note, every San Franciscan should be giving mad props right now to Joe Talbot, the director of the upcoming film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” He won accolades and awards at the Sundance Film Festival last month, and just this week a new trailer for his debut feature-length film dropped.

Talbot was a standout student at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School, and I had the distinct pleasure of watching him grow into a mature filmmaker there when I was an artist-in-residence teaching video editing. Today he sports a trendy beard, but I remember when he could hardly grow a mustache.

So I’ll let you in on a secret: Talbot’s movies always had heart.

I remember his documentary highlighting the immigrant journeys and deep community ties of liquor store owners in San Francisco. It was incredibly touching, especially from a young teen, and revealed their lives realistically, but compassionately.

When I watched the new trailer for “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (which you can see at sfex.news/LBMinSF) I saw that same hometown heart on full display.

You’re doing San Francisco proud, Joey.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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