Assembly candidates go door to door looking for every possible vote


David Campos and Matt Haney are crisscrossing San Francisco, rushing to rally every possible voter in the final days before the April 19 runoff in the 17th Assembly District.

Every vote found will be like gold in a race where campaigns expect only one registered voter out of four votes. That’s why the two left-leaning San Francisco Democrats – who share many of the same positions, have held the same elected office and have supported each other in past races – now tear over every last nuance. Who is a more business-friendly candidate? Who is the biggest supporter of working-class San Franciscans?

There is, however, a big challenge for both. Many voters are unaware that an election is coming up – even though the one-question ballot should have landed in their mailbox last week. Unlike the February 15 four-candidate primary when Haney edged Campos by 726 votes to advance to the second round, there will be no recall of a nationally supervised school board sharing the ballot.

That point was reinforced for Campos as he campaigned in Chinatown’s Portsmouth Square on a sunny afternoon last week, introducing himself in Chinese. A gray-haired woman recognized him as she picked up a campaign flyer and shook his hand. A campaign aide translated that she voted for him because his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren all voted for him.

But there was some confusion over whether she voted for Campos in the February 15 election or in those to come. It’s a familiar refrain.

“That’s the challenge,” Campos said. “People are like, ‘I voted for you.’ But did you vote last week? And they’re like, ‘No.’

Haney ran into the same problem in Noe Valley on Thursday night, where a person who answered the door said, “Is there another election?”

His campaign identified 20,000 supporters throughout the district and he was knocking on doors to make sure they had cast in their ballots. One was Lissa Robinson, a teacher who lives in Noe Valley, who voted for entrepreneur Bilal Mahmood in February. Now she votes for Haney, in part because Mahmood supported him.

It also meant a lot to her when Haney knocked on her door.

“In fact, I’ve never met a candidate of anything,” Robinson said. “So I think making the effort to go talk to someone is a plus.”

It’s rare gold – a new voter. Haney is counting on the conversion of supporters of Mahmood, who won 22% of the vote in February, to win.

As we wait for election day, here are some storylines to follow:

Follow the money: Campos continues to denounce Haney’s campaign for receiving $45,000 in contributions from people who do business with the city, those seeking contracts with the city or have outstanding land use issues, which is illegal.

Haney returned all contributions, which were first reported by 48 Hills. Haney told me “there’s no way to preemptively stop someone from donating online” and said voters should take comfort that his campaign “followed the rules” and returned contributions after their source has been discovered.

Campos’ campaign points out that most of the contributions were returned after being discovered by a journalist. They wouldn’t give Haney, Campos said, unless they thought his opinion could be changed.

This dovetails with Campos’ closing message, which is about his support for the creation of a single-payer health care system. Haney also supports the concept, which failed to get a vote in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year.

But Campos said while Haney can say he supports single-payer, some of his biggest opponents in Sacramento — namely the California Medical Association’s Political Action Committee, which gave $50,000 to an independent committee who supports Haney – support him. (Candidate campaigns are not allowed to communicate with or control independent spending campaigns, which operate separately.)

“We’ve seen this time and time again,” Campos told me. “Politicians say they’re going to do something when they’re taking money from people who are against something. And when they are elected, what happens is that they vote with their pocket.

Other single-payer proponents are unconvinced by this particular Campos attack. One of Haney’s endorsers is Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, who passed single-payer legislation this year. The California Nurses Association, one of the nation’s leading single-payer advocates, endorsed both nominees.

Campos’ campaign shared with me a compiled list of nearly four dozen “corporate” donors to Haney’s campaign, a list that includes San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York, who gave Haney $2,000. . But the list also included a Yemeni restaurant in the Tenderloin, a convenience store with three employees and a South of Market nightclub.

Are they corporations? Technically. But hardly the big Sacramento players.

Who says no business? Campos emphasized that he is “non-corporate,” which he defines as not taking contributions from corporations. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take them from high-ranking corporate executives — even some who are affiliated with health care and real estate companies.

Among the few dozen best-known companies that have contributed to Campos are Warren Browner, CEO of California Pacific Medical Center, who gave him $2,000. Robert Rosania, the founder of Maximus Real Estate, the force behind the “Monster in the Mission” subdivision that Campos led opposition to when he was a board member, gave him $4,900. Christopher McGarry, CEO of the Save Mart grocery chain, donated $4,900.

Haney said the contributions show that Campos’ core message is hollow.

“He’s running his entire campaign on a slogan he can’t even live up to,” Haney told me.

Campos believes he can be “businessless” even if he takes money from business leaders – as individuals.

“The difference is you have people who know me and support me because they know who I am,” Campos told me. “It’s not society that invests in a politician with the idea that it’s going to deliver for him.”

Regardless of what you call Campos’ campaign, his method comes at a cost: Campos spends a lot of time — six to eight hours a day, he said — on the phone trying to raise funds from individuals.

Representation Battles: San Francisco supervisor Rafael Mandelman knows both men and works with Haney. But like most of his fellow supervisors, he approved of Campos.

“I had ups and downs with these two gentlemen. But I know David’s heart,” Mandelman told me. “I know he’s got a strong backbone. I know he’s a fighter – I’ve been through that myself on some occasions. We need to send a fighter to Sacramento.

Additionally, Mandelman pointed out that he is the only elected LGBTQ county supervisor in the Bay Area. Electing Campos, he said, would solve the “queer representation problem in the Bay Area.”

But the LGBTQ community is divided. The Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club endorsed Haney. On Wednesday, Campos attended a fundraiser sponsored and co-hosted by California’s Latino and LGBTQ Legislative Caucuses — and attended by state Senate Speaker Pro Tem Toni Atkins, the first openly LGBTQ official to hold that position. job.

Who is for the workers? While speaking to voters in Chinatown, Campos ran into longtime supporter Patricia DeLarios.

“I don’t think he ever gave up on any of his principles, but at the same time he’s able to get along with a lot of people,” DeLarios told me. “And he’s a champion for the underdogs.”

But Haney has won endorsements from most unions, including some of the city’s largest unions like the Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), which among other things represents healthcare workers.

“The reality is that workers overwhelmingly supported me and put their own resources on the line because they believe I will fight for them,” Haney told me.

Campos won the endorsement of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, a union with 5,000 members in San Francisco. Alexa Groenke, who was part of the committee that decided on the approval, said the race “would come down to who best organizes participation and who has that deep trust with the organization and the communities.”

That is why the door-to-door search for voters will continue.

Joe Garofoli is the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political editor. Email: [email protected]: @joegarofoli


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