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Sorry, Ron Conway: A Group of Elite Progressive Politicians Just Took Over the San Francisco Democratic Party

But whether this foretells a progressive overhaul of city government is another matter.

This tech-backed flier did not much help elect tech-backed candidates. Maybe this, too, constitutes poor, bad, unforgivable judgment.


Yesterday’s race to determine the makeup of the Democratic County Central Committee was flooded by a metric crapload of tech and real estate money: Roughly $2 million all told. But, despite efforts to inundate voters with the most inane of campaign mailers, the tech moguls and housing developers bankrolling the campaign did not have a great night last night. Their preferred slate of candidates—so-called Progress Slate—couldn't match the gains of the left-leaning Reform Slate.

So, it was a rough day not just for the Ron Conways, Ev Williamses, and AirBnbs who paid for all of those loopy mailers, nor for the poor, ousted DCCC incumbents (Zoe Dunning, Leah Pimentel, Francis Tsang, Alix Rosenthal, Joel Engardio, Josh Arce, and Marjan Philhour), but—potentially—for any Conway/Williams/Airbnb-preferred candidate or measure hoping to receive the official endorsement of the party. This is why the DCCC, by the way, really does matter: The committee determines official "Democratic Party" endorsements—which figure to come in handy in November, when a far larger (and less informed) electorate crashes the presidential polls and checks to see how the capital-D Democratic Party suggests they vote. (This iteration of the DCCC will also, eventually, endorse our next mayor.)

And yet, a post-game analysis that oligarch-funded moderates were trounced and scrappy progressives were elevated by People Power is too neat. Glancing up and down the list of DCCC candidates currently in the catbird seats, the overwhelming majority are either sitting politicians—nine of 11 supervisors ran; they all did fine—or former politicians like Bevan Dufty, John Burton, Tom Ammiano, or Angela Alioto. Name recognition and ballot placement, it seems, are still far more important than stacks of scare ads

A DCCC manned by sitting politicians and experienced city players will behave differently than one staffed by little-known party functionaries (especially loyalists appointed by chairwoman Mary Jung). The party’s endorsement of Julie Christensen over Aaron Peskin in last year's District 3 supervisorial race, was described to us as "a lockstep operation" with instructions dictated to DCCC members. But don't expect people like Alioto or Burton to take marching orders like that—from anybody. The Democratic Party now figures to be less ideological and more transactional; endorsements won't be dictated from up on high but may be instead determined by longstanding political relationships and years worth of reciprocity. That's not a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a thing.

So, just who and what the DCCC will endorse for November's General Election remains to be seen. DCCC member-to-be Peskin says, however, that Jung's ploy to move up that endorsement to next week to beat the installation of new members isn't going to happen. The optics, he predicts, are just too ugly. And, even if it comes to pass, he foresees the new members' first order of business will be wiping away those endorsements.

And, after that? Time will tell. 


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