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Friday, September 13, 2013

Assembly race shapes up as centrist vs. progressive

The lines just got very clear in the race to replace Tom Ammiano in the state Assembly. Sup. David Chiu has entered the race with the support of Sup. Scott Wiener -- making it clear that Chiu will run not as a progressive but as a centrist willing to cut deals with the conservative wing of the board.

That leaves Sup. David Campos as the sole political heir to Ammiano, who has in both his local and his state career been a solid, unwavering voice of the left in one of the most progressive districts in California.

Chiu confirmed to me that he's running, and will probably use the same type of line he used in the mayor's race, talking about "our shared progressive values." But Wiener doesn't share what most of us call "progressive values." He's a talented and straightforward legislator, and my disagreements with him are not personal -- but on economic issues, he's really pretty conservative.

Now: The immediate rumor has it that Wiener will now get Chiu's nod if he decides to run for the state Senate seat that will be open in 2016, when Mark Leno is termed out. Wiener denies that: "I'm running for re-election to the Board of Supervisors next year," he told me by text message. "At the appropriate time I'll ask David Chiu to endorse my re-election. I didn't ask him for anything in return for my endorsement. I endorsed him on the merits."

And what Wiener (and Leno, and a few other politicians in town) decides to do in the future will depend on whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi sticks around after the 2014 elections. At some point, she's going to retire -- and an open Congressional seat is a once-in-a-lifetime chance that lots of people will jump at.

Still, the fact that Chiu sought and is promoting the support of Wiener indicates that he plans on running as more of a moderate (the way he got elected board president the second time around). Wiener my get him some support in the LGBT community (where Chiu is up against the fact that this seat has been held by an LGBT person for many years); Wiener has proven his popularity. But it will be among the more conservative elements of that community.

The interesting twist to all of that is the report circulating around that School Board member Jill Wynns may enter the race. I haven't been able to reach Wynns (odd; she usually calls me right back) but her name is everywhere. And she would be more of a rival to Chiu than to Campos.

Wynns has a distinguished record on the School Board, and (despite the urging of many of my friends and allies) I supported her re-election last time around. But if anything, she would probably run to the right of Chiu, and the only way she'd have a chance is if she went after downtown money. That wouldn't be a fitting way to end her long career as a public servant.

And let's remember: This election will take place under the state's new open-primary rule, where the top two finishers (no matter the party) in June will go on to the November general election. Even in a three-way race (maybe even more so in a three-way race) Campos -- with the progressive constituency pretty much to himself -- will finish strong enough to make the general election. I don't see Wynns beating Chiu. I can see her taking votes from both (more from Chiu than Campos) but she'll wind up out of the running.

In the meantime, Campos told me he's a little disappointed that Wiener would support a non-LGBT candidate for this seat, but he's not that worried. "I'm feeling good," he said. "There are ups and downs in any campaign, but we're doing well."

1 comment:

  1. I think that's making a bit of a big deal out of Wiener's endorsement. I would assume that Weiner would endorse Chiu on his politics alone, no conspiracy needed. Dufty's on board with Campos as well as a few other moderates according to BAR, I guess Campos must be up to something?

    It's silly to assume that just because an individual is LGBT they're going to support any LGBT candidate. Weiner is to the right of Chiu, he was never going to endorse Campos. Should Chiu be disappointed if an Asian endorses Campos over him?