Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Matt Gonzalez: Failure to Launch

Beyond Chron has written an superb article detailing why Ross Mirkarimi opted not to tie his lot to sinking dinghy, Chris Daly, and why Matt Gonzalez has no chance of sinking the SS Gavin Newsom. Were Gonzalez to run, he could raise the many splintered progressives from the unfathomable depths of a Titanic convention.

I say "Run, Forrest Run." Unfortunately, no one would be more shocked than Gonzalez were his 'Regressive' braces to fall from his sides so he could pull away. He won't run. Besides, senior citizens in Boca Raton rock the vote, not all bark and no fight activist/pacifist. Rather, the few who do are already smitten with a Conservative in sheep's clothing. For now, the Regressive mantra remains:

I think, I can't; I think, I can't; I think, I can't...
Randy Shaw writes:

At San Francisco’s June 2 Progressive Convention, there were only smiles and applause as over a dozen elected officials claimed unity behind a progressive agenda. But it soon became clear that the supervisors attending the Convention were not on the same page. Supervisor Chris Daly, who called for the Convention, soon announced a budget plan that he saw as a progressive alternative to Mayor Newsom’s. But Daly acted before securing approval of his proposal from some of his progressive colleagues, including fellow Budget Committee member Ross Mirkarimi. When Mirkarimi challenged some of Daly’s budget cuts, the District 6 Supervisor took offense, storming into his onetime ally’s office to denounce Mirkarimi for betraying the progressive cause. Lacking the Committee votes to advance his plan, Daly cancelled the June 13 Budget hearing. The progressive split over the budget then became public when Board President Peskin removed Daly as Chair of the Budget Committee. Last night, Matt Gonzalez met with core supporters about the mayor’s race. Can a Gonzalez mayoral campaign unify San Francisco's fractured political left?

Using his position as Budget Chair, Daly quickly moved to amend Newsom’s budget. But in his eagerness to offer a “progressive” alternative to the Mayor, Daly took for granted that his fellow progressives---particularly fellow Budget Committee member Ross Mirkarimi---would back his agenda.

But Daly either did not realize, or care, that Mayor Newsom’s budget included items strongly backed by Mirkarimi. Daly’s budget proposal also included cuts for street and pothole repairs that were supported by his colleagues, as well as progressive constituencies like the San Francisco Bike Coalition.

Since Daly identified his budget as The Progressive Budget, he did not want it changed. Since his goal was to sharpen the distinction between Newsom and the progressive Board, Daly saw accepting some of the Mayor’s budget priorities as serving the opposite result.

Daly’s chief problem was that he advanced a budget whose central feature---the $33million affordable housing package---lacked a mobilized anti-Newsom constituency. While housing activists were not joining Daly’s condemnation of the Mayor’s budget, constituencies angry at Daly’s cuts were rallying to Newsom’s side.

Board President Aaron Peskin recognized how Daly’s budget plan had split progressives and boosted the Mayor’s base, and pulled the plug on Daly’s chairmanship. Those criticizing Peskin for the move seem entirely unaware of how Daly’s stance was expanding, rather than hurting, Newsom’s political base.

Can Matt win? I’m already on record saying that Newsom is unbeatable, and he has become stronger in the past month as his mayoralty entered full-campaign mode.

But the question for progressives may have changed from “can Matt win” to, can he be the vehicle for creating real and lasting political unity around a progressive agenda?

It has because clear that the June 2 Convention failed to achieve this, and one can only wonder as we recall all of the speeches why Daly and Mirkarimi never discussed their specific budget priorities that day---or why the attendees were not asked to approve a progressive budget right then.

If Matt Gonzalez ran on a campaign that included his own budget plan for the city, then the public could assess whether his “progressive” budget differed from Mayor Newsom’s. This could repair relations between the Daly and Mirkarimi camps, and leave the city’s progressive forces in a better position than they are in today.

If Matt does not run, expect the in-fighting among San Francisco’s progressive activists to continue. And for some to blame this on Gonzalez, rather than looking inside themselves.

Complete Article: Can Matt Gonzalez Reunify San Francisco’s Left? By Randy

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