Negative campaign season in San Francisco

October means our interminable tedious campaign season is about to get ugly. Right after we atone for our sins on Yom Kippur is a fine time to launch an onslaught of negative campaigning. Some allegations will be serious, and some will be less credible than Ryan Reynolds as an action star.

Everyone will get their licks in, but progressives are typically too affable to fight dirty. Most of the media will dutifully recite the content of the ads, and the rebuttals, without checking what’s true. The attacks will come from loftily named independent expenditure committees, so the candidate benefitting can remain above the fray.

Progressives will be hit with some outlandish claims.

In District 1, there was that whisper offensive to suggest that Sandy Fewer is not really Chinese. Opponent Marjan Philhour isn’t involved. The rumors have been swirling around Chinese-language radio and WeChat, the Chinese answer to Facebook. They appear to be stoked by Philhour supporter Josephine Zhao, the landlord donor who opposes transgender rights, and recently hosted a fundraiser for Scott Wiener’s state Senate campaign.

It’s a lot of “some people say …” Trumpian nonsense — baseless and irrelevant to the election. It’s like if I said I heard Philhour ditched her tab at tapas restaurants. If you were Zhao-ish, you would say on the radio, “We should look into that.” Hence, a story is born of nothing.

Across town in District 11, allies of Ahsha Safai tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to force revotes at various organizations that either endorsed Kim Alvarenga, like the District 11 Democratic Club, or made no endorsement, like the Democratic County Central Committee.

The Police Officers Association-funded independent expenditure committee “San Franciscans for a City That Works” — Works at what? Never you mind — put out mailers against Alvarenga suggesting incorrectly that she supports more pot clubs. This would be a winning message in many places, because San Francisco’s motto, “Oro en paz y fiero en guerra,” translates roughly to, “Was someone just smoking weed around here?” But in District 11, it may arouse alarm among immigrant homeowners about unwashed hordes of potheads and Snoop Dogg.

In District 9, where Hillary Ronen and Joshua Arce are considered leading candidates, there will be more attacks on Ronen from the Arce camp. This week, a blog post, ominously titled “Developers And Lobbyists Double Down For SF Supervisor Candidate Hillary Ronen,” was posted on Indybay. (Indybay was one of the international network of independent media centers launched during the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999.) The piece was written by “SF Labor News,” who is not a known writer or person or wire service. I assume this is shorthand for the Laborer’s Union, without which there would be no Arce campaign.

The blog claims that “lobbyists and developers are increasingly donating to Ronen,” possibly in violation of city ethics laws, who have had business before Supervisor David Campos, who Ronen works for. So, corruption or something. Except that many of said companies, like Airbnb, fought tooth and nail against Supervisor Campos’ attempts to regulate them. And lobbyist David Noyola, who the blog fingers for giving Ronen money twice, worked for David Chiu, who endorsed Arce.

Don’t we always hear about how progressives make San Francisco hostile to business and prevent developers from showering us with housing? The Laborers have been especially vocal about this. If Ronen is in cahoots with developers, why do the SF YIMBY people who want developers to be unleashed support Arce? Can the Arce people explain the theory that developers are donating to Ronen so she can stop them from building housing they want to build? There must be a better explanation.

To be sure, there will be attacks from progressives targeting Arce, Safai and Philhour, too. But one side will do the most negative messaging, and stretch the truth the most. And that side won’t be three progressive women.

Nato Green is a comedian, writer, and union consultant. See his live stand-up on the first Wednesday at Modern Times for Modern Comedy or the second Thursday at the Verdi Club for Verdi Wild Things Are. Or send hateration to @natogreen.

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