Progressives in Good Shape for DCCC; Carole Migden Returns

by Paul Hogarth on March 15, 2010

Two years ago, progressives swept the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) – and then endorsed candidates that helped them keep their majority on the Board of Supervisors. They did this by running a slate that included big-name elected officials, and turned in their papers at the last minute so that Mayor Gavin Newsom’s allies were caught flat-footed. After that coup, I had assumed the moderates would be well prepared for 2010 – ready to field a formidable slate of DCCC candidates with their own big names to re-take control. But after the 5:00 p.m. deadline to file passed on Friday, the moderate field was underwhelming. Granted, they have some candidates who will make it competitive – especially on the West Side, where a record number of candidates have filed. But no one with major name recognition – while progressives have four Supervisors, two ex-Supervisors and two School Board members running. And one name will clearly make it interesting – former State Senator Carole Migden, who is running for a body that she first chaired in the 1980’s.

The DCCC represents all registered Democrats in San Francisco, and is the official voice of the local Democratic Party. Members of Congress and the state legislature from San Francisco have a seat on the committe, but the other 24 members are elected in June – with 12 from each State Assembly District. The Committee’s task is to build the Party though voter registration and fundraising, but it also publishes an influential slate card every election – with its official endorsements in local races. A major factor as to why progressives swept the November 2008 elections is because they controlled the DCCC endorsement process.

And judging by who’s running, that’s likely to remain. On the East Side (13th Assembly District), Supervisors David Campos and David Chiu are running – along with ex-Board President and Party Chair Aaron Peskin. Other big names include Supervisor candidates Rafael Mandelman and Debra Walker, and School Board member Kim-Shree Maufas. DCCC incumbents Michael Goldstein, Gabriel Haaland and Joe Julian are running – as well as past Supervisor candidates Alix Rosenthal and Eric Quezada. All of them have a track record of running for higher office, giving these progressives name recognition.

On the more moderate West Side (12th Assembly District), progressive candidates who filed include Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar, ex-Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, School Board member Sandra Lee Fewer, DCCC incumbents Hene Kelly and Michael Bornstein and Young Democrat Chris Gembinski. Other candidates who are friendly to progressives include City College Board member Milton Marks, ex-Supervisor candidate Jaynry Mak – and DCCC incumbents Jane Morrison, Melanie Nutter, Connie O’Connor and Arlo Smith. Mara Kopp is more conservative, but has often endorsed progressives.

So who are the moderate “big-names” running for DCCC? Incumbent Scott Wiener, who is running for Supervisor, is in – and has attracted notice for raising considerable amounts of money. We also have incumbents Leslie Katz on the East Side – and Tom Hsieh, Mary Jung, Meagan Levitan and Matt Tuchow on the West Side. But you don’t see recognizable names like Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier, Rachel Norton or Jill Wynns. A few City Hall aides to the moderate Supervisors are running, but overall it’s not a long list.

Nevertheless, there are a record number of West Side candidates this year – a total of 33, compared with 21 in 2008 and 19 in 2006. Moderates appear to have conceded most of the DCCC seats on the East Side, but they are running a lot of candidates on the West Side – where they will duke it out with progressives. None of these moderates have the high name recognition of a sitting Supervisor, but expect them to be well-funded.

Bill Fazio, who thrice ran for District Attorney as a moderate, is running on the West Side. He told me that Dan Dunnigan and John Shanley – who are both running as well – recruited him. Shanley ran for Supervisor in 2000 against Leland Yee, and then worked on Newsom’s 2003 campaign. Dunnigan is a firefighter and ex-DCCC member who lost in 2008. Another firefighter, Keith Baraka, is running on the East Side – which suggests that the Firefighters Union is taking an active interest in supporting moderates for DCCC.

Who else is running on the moderate side for DCCC? Perennial District 4 candidate Ron Dudum, ex-Police Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese, Mike Sullivan of Plan C, former District 5 candidate Owen O’Donnell, and Linda Richardson (who ran two years ago.) Three members of the Chinese American Democratic Club – Calvin Louie, Michael Chan and Samuel Kwong – are also running. Can these candidates win? Of course – but when progressives have a slate card with big names, it’s going to be an uphill battle for them.

And speaking of slate cards, don’t be surprised if Clear Channel Outdoor takes an active interest in this year’s DCCC elections. Former State Senator Carole Migden – whose former chief of staff, Michael Colbruno, is the company’s lobbyist – has jumped back into the political fray and run for the DCCC. Ironically, DCCC was the first office Migden was elected to back in the 1980’s – and was powerful Chair before moving to the Board of Supervisors.

After losing re-election two years ago to Mark Leno, many have speculated what Migden would be up to next. She was appointed to the Integrated Waste Management Board, but Governor Schwarzenegger has eliminated that position. While it was speculated that she would run for Supervisor, that’s no longer the case. But Carole clearly wants to stay in the fray by serving on the DCCC. Everyone I’ve talked to presumes that, based purely on name recognition, she will win a seat. The only question is whether she will run on the “progressive slate” with the other elected officials, becoming part of that faction.

Unlike the Board of Supervisors, there are no campaign contribution limits for DCCC –allowing it to be a “soft-money” loophole. Candidates running for both Supervisor and DCCC have been collecting huge donations to their DCCC account. With Migden now in the race, don’t be surprised if we start seeing more massive contributions to her campaign.

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