SF Dems May Endorse APA For Mayor

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State Senator Leland Yee wins share of SF Labor Council endorsement.

PARTY TO RECONSIDER: The SF Democratic Party will consider endorsing a third mayoral candidate on Sept. 21. Facing major criticism over not endorsing any of the five major Asian Pacific American candidates, the party will vote whether to reverse its Aug. 17 neutral “no endorsement” position and then consider one of the remaining Democrats – including five major APA candidates – Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Board of Supervisor President David Chiu, Mayor Ed Lee, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and State Senator Leland Yee. Former Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Michela Alioto-Pier are also vying for the party support. The party had only supported Supervisor John Avalos for the first ranking and City Attorney Dennis Herrera for the second, but was neutral on the third. The snub of five major APA candidates caused an outcry in and outside of the APA community (see below). Yee was the closest for endorsement with eight votes for the third ranking last month…

LABOR FOR LELAND: State Senator Yee has scored the endorsement of the powerful SF Labor Council, which also endorsed fellow mayoral candidate and City Attorney Dennis Herrera. For Yee, it’s major – whose mayoral candidacy could surf an APA electorate turnout tsunami (see Sept. 8 column) but also the labor tide buoyed by 100,000 members and their families, many of whom maybe drawn to campaign or vote against this November’s public employee pension and health benefit reform measures, including the compromise sponsored by Mayor Lee (Prop C) and Public Defender Adachi’s more far reaching measure (Prop D). Last November, labor unions swamped Adachi’s Prop B employee benefits reform by a 57%-43% vote…Yee’s candidacy would benefit on major get-out-the-vote efforts by the Council and the United Educators of San Francisco and California Nurses Association, whose members sustained Jerry Brown’s penurious $36 million gubernatorial candidacy and defeated the well financed $178 million onslaught of E-Bay executive Meg Whitman last year…

Former Chinese Real Estate Association of America President and next SF Association of Realtors President Jeff Woo joins colleagues in pushing SF Democratic Party for more diverse mayoral endorsements and less divisive campaigning.

REALTORS CONDEMN NEGATIVE TONE: The Chinese Real Estate Association of America took out Chinese-language half page ads on Sept. 8 in Sing Tao and World Journal newspapers urging the SF Democratic Party to consider “more diverse endorsements” The organization said, “This [mayoral] election is not about racially coded phrases that divide us. It’s about the economy – jobs, business and our homes for our families.” Past and future SF Association of Realtors Presidents John Lee, John Y. Wong, Jeff Woo and Allen Okamoto and current and future CREAA presidents Amy Kong and Albert S. Tam had signed the open letter to the community… “Our leaders are not ‘dorky Chinese’ or agents of a foreign government.  Such comments only incite racism against our community. Instead, our local political parties should embrace diversity in not just people but in ideas – especially when it comes to our American Dream,” said CREAA….

DEMOCRATS RIPS PARTY: The ads came after the Aug. 23 Chinese American Democratic Club condemnation of the SF Democratic Party. The club pledged to re-register Chinese Americans as Democrats to change in the June 2011 election the party’s 24-member central committee, which was responsible for the mayoral endorsements. The club stated the party’s “disconnection with the Chinese community has hit rock bottom” by not endorsing any Chinese American mayoral candidate… (Editor’s Note: AsianWeek.com is a CREAA media sponsor and board member, columnist is a CADC board member)…

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL: Introducing mayors in Chinatown from George Moscone, Dianne Feinstein, Art Agnos, Frank Jordan, Willie Brown to Gavin Newsom was emcee Mel Lee, leading an efficient Sept. 9 Far East Café fundraiser – short on speeches, fast on entrees and quick on collecting…“Each time I introduced the mayor [Newsom], I was intimidated,” said Lee, a Feinstein intimate. “The reason being is that he was six-foot-four-inches tall. Now I have someone my size to come up here and say a few words” as he referred to his namesake Ed Lee… Mel’s right. After his 2003 election victory, Mayor-elect Newsom did a Stockton Street victory lap, standing out like a giraffe among pedestrians… MAYOR ON YEAST: If Mission Bay research labs are a frequent campaign pit stop, it’s because the mayor is pleading, “Do you have a yeast that can make somebody taller?” Touring UC facilities, the mayor bumped into five APA Lincoln High School kids working on a strain of yeast. “These are the kids the pharmaceuticals companies from around the country are now recruiting,” said Lee. “I looked at them, and of course all the girls were taller than me.”

Mel Lee, emcee to SF mayors, and equal in height with Mayor Ed Lee

IT’S THE ECONOMY, NOT WILLIE: Lee picked up Chinese American Citizens Alliance support, but also garnered the Chinese American Democratic Club endorsement, whose President, Hayden Lee, had ripped Mayor Willie Brown’s governing style in a 1999 Lunar New Year dinner speech. Eleven years later, CADC is more concerned about the economy and exorcised of concerns about Brown (1996-2004) and his close ties with Ed Lee… Despite endorsing Lee, the club did not support the mayor’s initiatives – going neutral on his retirement and health care benefits measure (Prop C), opposing the $248 million road bond (Prop B) and sales tax increase (Prop G)…The club ranked Public Defender Adachi and then Board President Chiu. State Senator Yee fell short, but might have overtaken Chiu if he had shown up for the meeting according to a club insider….

ALL OF THE ABOVE: Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fiona Ma is getting a lot of face time with voters on SF Sheriff candidate literature by endorsing California Attorney General advisor Chris Cunnie, SF Sheriff Captain Paul Miyamoto and SF Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi

POLAR OPPOSITES: Interesting endorsements for mayoral candidate Adachi, a Democrat are like North and South Pole polar bears meeting at the equator – former Board of Supervisor President and 2003 mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez (and Adachi’s chief attorney in the SF Public Defender’s office) and 1979 mayoral candidate and State Senator Quentin Kopp, who last appeared on the ballot as a state senator in 1994. Matt’s a progressive Green while retired Superior Court Judge Kopp is a conservative with an independent streak. Adachi has also enlisted political mastermind Jack Davis – who engineered election mayoral victories and drew major APA support for Frank Jordan and Willie Brown…

NEAR THE WAILING WALL: Ex-Jones Day law partner, Rod McLeod, retired, married and moved to Israel. The former school board member – vowing not to raise money for a SF Superior Court bid last year – ended up in third place for the seat of retiring Wallace Douglass… McLeod, a former paratrooper and Peace Corps volunteer, appointed by Feinstein to the school board was the city’s second Filipino American official, after Dick Cerbatos who had resigned from the school board. Cerbatos predates current trustee Hydra Mendoza, former College Board member Rodel Rodis and SF Democratic County Central Committee member Rebecca Delgado-Rottmann Alfonso Faustino, Jr., the GOP nominee for the 12th Assembly District seat, and Rudy Asercion sit on the SF Republican County Central Committee…

Former SF School Board member and early political pioneer Ben Tom, 85, and Mayor Ed Lee greet each other at Chinese American Democratic Club meeting.

AMONG THE LIVING: Darlene Chiu-Bryant, moving on to a mayoral campaign, isn’t the only one changing careers in the household. This July, husband Andy Bryant went from literally horizontal to vertical integration – leaving as President of bought-out Lifemark Corporation and necro-management to become the first Chief Operating Officer among the living of Anni Chung’s Self-Help for the ElderlyRAISING THE DEAD: Carlos Serrano-Quan has an expertise in resuscitating languishing non-profits – having revitalized Chinatown Youth Center and now focusing on Chinese Newcomers Service CenterAND MOVING ON: Meanwhile, the Asian Law Caucus is bidding farewell to director Titi Liu, who’s stepping down in November…

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.

About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.