Stateside With Rosalea: Da Results
The San Francisco election results put the two folks supported by the outgoing mayor into office. Kamala Harris won 56 percent of the vote against incumbent Terence Hallinan, who was seeking his third term as District Attorney. And Gavin Newsom won 53 percent of the vote to become San Francisco's new mayor.
The two winners were endorsed by the SF Chronicle at the weekend, and the paper had also recently run a week-long series of undercover stories about how the homeless live, culminating in two full pages of letters to the editor about it on the day of the election.
The Chronicle could, of course, have done the undercover story on homelessness at any time in the past four years, but lo! it was just too useful for making the election into a one-issue campaign. Since Hallinan has long been characterised as being soft on crime and putting people back on the streets after minor drug conviction, the photos of ulcer-ridden street people injecting each other were very effective. And on the day before the election, the Newsom campaign ran a TV ad of a clinic doctor saying he supported Newsom. Enough said.
And to everyone's astonishment, Al Gore came out and supported Howard Dean as presidential candidate. What has that to do with the mayoral race, you might ask? Well, progressive San Francisco Democrats heavily support Dean, so Gore's endorsement of those progressive politics may have caused some wavering progressives to toe the party line in the hopes that it is aligning itself more with their beliefs.
Then there was Gonzalez's TV ad on the day of the election itself (yes, campaigning never stops). It consisted of a series of quick cuts of upbeat people from all different walks of life, ages, and ethnicities saying they were for Gonzalez. The last one - whose words lingered after the ad ended - said he was "a Republican for Gonzalez". I suspect that ad did more harm than good, since previously the candidate had been touting the local Republican party's support of Newsom as a negative.
All that having been said, Gonzalez's capture of 47.43 percent of the vote, with a 48.6 percent turnout of voters at the polls is astonishing. I would have thought maybe 30 percent of voters would turn out, and that Gonzalez would get about 29 percent - 45 percent would have been an impossible dream. But for him to get even more than that and to see such a high turn-out is a great validation of my belief that it is possible to turn US politics away from being driven by money and politicians who are already in power.
There's certain hope now for establishing a common belief (originally espoused by none other than Winston Churchill) that the single most important event in any democracy is the moment a voter - alone with his or her individual decisions - marks their ballot.
Long live the V-word!