Working With Us | Products | Case Studies | FAQ | About Online Media

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Gonzalez

Oct
18
2003

Why has a nice man like San Francisco mayoral candidate Tom Ammiano turned into Green Party mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez’s favorite punching bag?
First, Gonzalez, who is also president of the city board of supervisors, entered the race, splitting the left by giving people a fourth candidate (that’s counting city Treasurer Susan Leal). Then, Gonzalez either tried (or spread rumors he was trying) to get Ammiano to take the schools superintendent’s job. That tactic, had it succeeded, would have taken Ammiano out of the race and, by the way, would have knocked the city’s highest ranking black female out of a job. Now that’s a nice way to rack up the “progressive” credentials, huh?
But this last hit is a low blow. And it looks like it’s backfiring.
The cause? A four-page mailer asking “Who should be our next mayor? The millionaire candidate? Politicians Who Have Had Their Chance?” The first question is a reference to the race’s front-runner Gavin Newsom. The second to Ammiano.
And in case you don’t get it, there’s a comparison chart – Gonzalez, Ammiano and Newsom – inside.
This political subtlety – anyone got a sledgehammer? – has outraged some of the city’s leading Lefties, among them, Robert Haaland, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. “I am struck by the smallness of his mailer and the smallness of his actions,” Haaland wrote in a widely circulated email late last week. “If this is what being a progressive means in the near future, let me be the first to tear up my progressive membership card.” (Haaland’s essay defining what it means to be a progressive – in our out San Francisco – is so worth reading that it’s printed below).
Naturally, Ammiano supporters are furious at Gonazalez, according to a political op working in a citywide campaign. “They really feel betrayed, worse than Angela getting the Guardian, worse than when Matt got in the race,” he said. “We haven’t seen the last chapter of all this…there may soon be an ‘Anybody but Newsom or Gonzales’ philosophy.”
That’s good for Ammiano. It’s good for Alioto and it’s good for Leal. But it’s bad, very bad, for Gonzalez now, and in the future as he tries to run the Board of Supervisors.
And you thought Total Recall was a rock’em’sock’em roller coaster ride.


This is the text of the email Robert Haaland, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, emailed in reaction to San Franciscon Mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez’s recent mailer. It has not been edited.
Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.”
- Russell Baker

Last night, I received a mailer from Supervisor Matt Gonzalez that critiqued Supervisor Tom Ammiano and Supervisor Gavin Newsom. The mailer stated that Tom’s record was very similar to Gavin’s record. I can only assume that Matt’s campaign believes that progress requires that he go negative on Tom. The logic would be that if Tom got into the run-off, he couldn’t win so Matt needs to knock him out so that he can get into the run-off. As Russell Baker said, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.
Why is this a terrible thing? I would query how it is “progressive” to attack another progressive and distort their record. How does it benefit the movement in San Francisco to act in such a destructive fashion? From day one of Matt’s entry, I have remained silent about how destructive I found the method of his entry because I believed it undermined the movement’s goals to attack another progressive. I limited my comments to encouraging Matt’s supporters to be more thoughtful about how they describe Tom as some of their comments could be interpreted differently then perhaps they intended.
At the end of the day, the ends of Matt’s campaign do not justify the means. In saying this, I am fully cognizant that I have sometimes been deluded into thinking that the ends do justify the means. I was wrong and so is Matt. How you do things is sometimes much more important and will result in lasting change. Short term wins create the illusion of social change but the foundation of that win is rotten at the core.
Some have argued that Matt is doing what Tom did four years ago. What this argument ignores is that four years ago, the write-in was a joyous event. It was a building year that resulted in a sweep at the Board the next year. This year the left is split and angry. This year feels destructive and the mailer I described is just more evidence of that blood bath that has occurred.
While I am repulsed by Matt’s mailer, I ultimately think it is weak. No one in their right mind honestly thinks Tom’s record is similar to Gavin’s record. Whether you like Tom or not, his 30 years of public service are in stark contrast to Gavin’s. Tom was one of two school teachers’ who came out during the Brigg’s initiative that tried to ban gay school teachers. Tom directed traffic the night of the White Night riots. Tom was the first openly gay man to run for School Board. Tom brought back District Elections and gave us a living wage, not a minimum wage.
While it is true that everything changes, and Matt may become the next Tom in the progressive movement, I am struck by the smallness of his mailer and the smallness of his actions. If this is what being a progressive means in the near future, let me be the first to tear up my progressive membership card. But I strongly hope being progressive will instead mean treating our allies and our coalition members with honor and with respect for their contributions to our joint cause. Perhaps one day Supervisor Gonzalez may also learn this important lesson.
Robert Haaland, president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 8:44 PM | Permalink

<< Back to the Spotlight blog

Chris Nolan's bio
Email Chris Nolan




Get Our Weekly Email Newsletter




What We're Reading - Spot-On Books

Hot Spots - What's Hot Around the Web



Spot-on.com | Promote Your Page Too

Spot-on Main | Pinpoint Persuasion | Spotlight Blog | RSS Subscription | Spot-on Writers | Privacy Policy | Contact Us