Intriguing Matchup for Next Democratic Regional Director: Chris Daly (Hothead) vs. August Longo (Convicted Felon)

Categories: Politics
August Longo believes his criminal past will not influence the coming race for Democratic Party regional director
When Supervisor Chris Daly tossed his hat into the ring for the low-profile position of Democratic Party Regional Director earlier this week, much of the ensuing media coverage focused on Daly's history of polarizing and combative behavior. In short, was this man constitutionally capable of handling a job that, essentially, calls for him to bring together various segments of the party and impartially organize meetings in which party endorsements are decided? Can Chris Daly be anyone's "liaison"?

Little was mentioned of Daly's six-year incumbent opponent, August Longo. Yet Longo's background is arguably more disturbing than Daly's past experiences walking out of meetings or engaging in shouting matches with members of the public. Longo, also a member of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission, was in 1981 indicted in New York of impersonating three different doctors, filling out false credit-card and loan applications, and passing more than 40 bad checks -- to the tune of $467,000. He pleaded guilty to nine charges involving around $125,000.

In 1984 he "absconded" from New York and skipped his probation to travel to California -- where he was later convicted of felony credit-card fraud in 1985. He was paroled in 1990, violated parole in '91 and went back inside, and then left prison for good one year later and began traveling in Democratic Party circles (all of the above was covered during a thorough -- but brief -- series of articles by the Hearst Examiner's Scott Winokur in 1997 -- long before many of the 150 party apparatchiks voting for Regional Director were paying attention).

Information obtained from Jack Ryan, spokesman for the New York Department of Probation, indicates that a warrant was issued for Longo in 1984. This came to light during Winokur's reporting in 1997 and Longo said at the time he would clear the matter up. Ryan reported that it wasn't until 2002 that Longo returned to Manhattan where he was re-sentenced to probation, which was transferred to California. Longo's case was closed in January of 2004.

Longo said his background was ancient history, and accused Daly of attempting to plant the story with "every paper in town." This came as a surprise, as Daly had not returned your humble narrator's calls since that one time in 2007.

"I've been vetted and I think this race will be decided on who will be the best regional director," Longo said. "The fact Chris Daly is trying to bring this up ... I think he can count the votes just like I can count the votes."

Our subsequent call to Daly was returned (!) -- and he denied spreading stories about Longo's past. Daly said he sees his role as reaching out to the young, largely politically inexperienced folks energized by Barack Obama's run to the presidency and bringing them into the Democratic Party -- and these people would be turned off if he ran a nasty campaign. "I'm not going negative. I'm not going to run a negative race," he said. "There have been negative e-mails from the other side against me, and I'm trying not to take the bait."

Longo said he was confident he'd win the election, which will be held on April 25 in Sacramento. He carries endorsements from a number of elected officials and is a longtime ally of likely future state party chair John Burton. Yet a handful of city progressives told the Weekly they are eager for "new blood" and are backing Daly. And while no voter would say on the record that Longo's criminal background would influence the election -- it certainly can't help, and, in this contested race, it could become a factor.

If you believe Longo, it already has.

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