Moderates Are Winners, Progressives Are Losers in Fight to Rule San Francisco

Categories: Politics
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Progressive Loser
The last two weeks at City Hall have been much like a low-budget mini-series, as the city watched progressives and moderates hit all-time lows in order to wrestle power away from one another. But now that the political waters have calmed, it's time to look at who emerged on top:


Rose Pak:  As Chinatown's most influential leader, Pak scored many, many points for moderates this last week with her political brokering and machinations that  -- at the 11th hour -- elevated the first Chinese-American, Ed Lee, into the position as San Francisco's chief executive.

Supervisor David Chiu: The mild-mannered Chiu has a much bigger bite than bark. While you will only hear canned statements and diplomatic words come out of Chiu, he clearly has a temperamental streak.  As progressives learned this week, they might have overestimated Chiu in believing he was a straight-up progressive.

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Mayor Gavin Newsom: The clear winner over the last two weeks. Not only did Newsom  overstay his welcome in San Francisco, he then skillfully used the extra time here to make sure moderate politics would dominate City Hall after his departure. He illustrated his political acumen more in the last seven days than any other time over his two terms as mayor, as he used a series of maneuvers to fill the city's top positions with moderates like himself.

District Attorney George Gascon:
It's been more than a decade since San Francisco has had a district attorney who said they would seek the death penalty. Newsom shocked everyone, including the former police chief himself, when he appointed Gascon to the position at the last minute. Gascon, who admits he has never prosecuted a case, has the support of cops in town with his pro capital-punishment philosophy. No doubt, this will be a boon for the moderate camp.


Chris Daly: The hardcore progressive supervisor is always looking for a good fight, even if he has to weather a few black eyes himself. But Daly received a knock-out punch during Tuesday night's board meeting when Supervisor David Chiu and Supervisor Bevan Dufty defected to the moderate camp, casting their votes for Lee. Daly, like the other progressives on the board, were sure they had the six votes they needed to make their candidate, Sheriff Michael Hennessey, interim mayor. At least he put San Francisco on the map with his throwback phrase, threatening moderates when he said:  "It's on like Donkey Kong."

Supervisor Bevan Dufty: He likes to be a progressive moderate or a moderate progressive, whichever comes in handy at the time.  True to form, Dufty was the instigator of Daly's furious diatribe where he threatened to haunt moderates. Dufty pissed off progressives, just as he ramps up his mayoral campaign.

Ed Lee: The city administrator never wanted the job as mayor. But after Pak twisted his arm unbearably, he succumbed to the job. So while it might be a personal loss for Lee, who is a Newsom ally, it was a point for the moderates.

So there you have it, a new San Francisco run mostly by moderates who you never even voted for.

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So what does this winner / loser dynamic mean for San Franciscans?

We hear lots of the moderate v progressive tug of war talk - labels in this town that mean next to nothing everywhere else in the world.

What do moderates accomplish when they are in power? Who is the beneficiary of their success?

How does a progressive failure affect people that work and / or live in the city? In what way will the progressive implosion harm / help the average citizen - the wealthy citizen - the small business owner - the tenant - the working poor?

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