Convention a chance to climb

As Democrats across the country descend on Denver next week, San Francisco values will most certainly be represented by the chair of the Democratic National Convention, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

But the convention, to be held Aug. 25-28 in Denver, also provides an opportunity for The City’s political up-and-comers to take on minor roles and increase their visibility. While city leaders such as Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris are wildly popular in San Francisco, they are using the convention to increase their national fame.

Newsom, one of the first contenders to take steps toward a run for California governor, hopes to increase his visibility by speaking at a symposium on energy and climate change, a gathering expected to draw 550 policymakers.

And while speaking on green initiatives at Denver’s Space Theater may provide more national reach, the mayor hopes to bring the convention to The City by interviewing Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper on his weekly radio show.

Asked about speaking at the convention, Newsom, a pledged Hillary Clinton supporter, said it wasn’t likely.

“No prime-time speeches for me,” Newsom said.

Harris, who early on pledged her support to Barack Obama, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, will leverage her experience in the criminal-justice system to help shape the party’s stance on issues such as capital punishment and violence prevention on the platform committee.

The district attorney has also secured a spot analyzing Obama’s acceptance speech on Black Entertainment Television. She is also not likely to address the convention.

“Neither one of them is prime-time material,” political analyst David Latterman said. “On one level, Newsom’s a star, but he’s also known for a number of high-profile issues like the sanctuary policy. As for Kamala, nobody knows who she is outside of San Francisco.”

For the dozens of other delegates representing San Francisco and the Peninsula at the convention — including San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, San Mateo County Supervisor Richard Gordon and state Assemblymember Fiona Ma — the daily California delegate breakfasts and the many sponsored parties may not increase their popularity with voters, but it could make for some political brokering.

“They’re trying to get themselves into higher office,” Latterman said. “Most people are repositioning themselves, networking … and for some people it’s just a party.”

But for San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, an alternate delegate, attending the convention is a means of pushing the far-left end of the political spectrum.

“I’ll be holding down the left flank,” Daly said. “We want to hold Obama to his progressive promises.”

The Republican National Convention will take place Sept. 1-4 in Saint Paul, Minn.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Caravan to the convention

California has 441 delegates and 62 alternates heading to the Democratic National Convention, which starts Monday. How San Francisco and the Peninsula are represented (not including superdelegates):

San Francisco (Congressional District 8)
District-level delegates: 6 (3 pledged to Clinton, 3 to Obama)
At-large delegates: 13
Pledged party leaders and elected officials: 4 (3 Clinton, 1 Obama)
Alternates: 2

San Mateo County (Congressional District 12)
District level delegates: 6 (3 Clinton, 3 Obama)
At-large delegates: 3
Pledged party leaders and elected officials: 1 (Obama)
Alternates: 2

North Santa Clara County (Congressional District 14)
District level delegates: 6 (3 Clinton, 3 Obama)
At-large delegates: 1
Unpledged: 1
Alternates: 2

Source: Democratic National Convention Committee

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