Eric Mar Divorce Probably Won't Turn Voters Off

Categories: Politics
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Eric Mar
In politics, a picture-perfect family is almost always a necessary asset to running a successful campaign. Unless of course, you're in San Francisco, where voters are much more forgiving of marital dramas and other bad craziness.

Supervisor Eric Mar's campaign manager fired off a press release at 5:33 p.m. on Friday -- of a holiday weekend, no less -- to announce the bad news: Mar and his wife, Sandra Chin-Mar, are in the process of ending their 25-year marriage.

"Despite their separation, Eric and Sandra will share joint custody of their 12-year-old daughter, Jade. Thank you for respecting the privacy of Supervisor Mar and his family during this time," the statement read.

The news only made headlines in a few area blogs. Perhaps that's because the supervisor timed his announcement on the cusp of a three-day weekend (and during Burning Man). Or maybe it's because the Mars have been separated for quite some time, and the supervisor has introduced his present female companion to his colleagues, at least one of whom told SF Weekly he was taken aback by the news -- because he'd assumed the Mars were already divorced.

Whatever the case, voters probably don't give a damn. Yes, this breakup will hurt -- but not politically.

Jason McDaniel, a political science professor at San Francisco State University, tells SF Weekly that unless the split is the result of something salacious -- like Mar emulating his erstwhile colleague Ross Mirkarimi -- then the public won't care. San Francisco voters resoundingly returned Mayor Gavin Newsom to office after he both divorced his wife and spurred another divorce by bedding the wife of his good friend and campaign manager.

"If Barack Obama was getting divorced, that'd matter," says McDaniel. "But I don't think it's the same for a member of the Board of Supervisors. If Mar's opponents make it part of the campaign, then voters, whether they admit it or not, it may become an issue for them. But I don't expect that to happen."

Good call. Mar's main opponent, David Lee, shrugged off news of the divorce. Jim Ross, who is running Lee's campaign, says that this divorce won't have any affect on the race -- unlike Mar's Happy Meal policies. "People get divorced -- it happens," Ross said. "I don't have anything snarky or clever to say about it."

Nicole Derse, spokeswoman for Mar's campaign, confirms the couple has been separated for a long while. She says the announcement was made because "We didn't want this to be misconstrued by anyone else or have it seem he was hiding anything."

When asked why, if the Mars had long been separated, the supervisor chose to finalize his divorce on the cusp of a contested re-election campaign, Derse answered, "You know, I don't know the answer to that."

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