About Us

Contact Us


A Little Pre-History

Imagining a Gonzalez Campaign

By Sue Peters

This is an e-mail I wrote to Charles Kalish in spring of 2003 as we plotted and schemed over our dream of Matt running for mayor. It was strangely prophetic. Though maybe not so strange — I'd been involved in SF politics and media for long enough to have a bit of a sense of things, and I used to work for the Chron (I'm a writer/journalist by profession, and a Green activist).

Anyhow, I did in fact work on Matt's campaign and though proud of our effort, am still sad about the final result. (My article about the experience can be found in the latest issue of Left Curve www.leftcurve.org, "Campaign in the Time of Cynicism.")

Wed, 14 May 2003 10:34:54 -0700 (PDT)

Hey Charles,

Yeah, I can't get the idea out of my mind either — Matt for mayor! That's what I was alluding to in my last e-mail, btw.

It's funny — I was racking my brain last summer/fall for a good candidate to oppose Newsom and that's when I thought of Matt. I had no idea anyone else had the same idea — and Matt was just a supe then, not president. Then shortly after that I met you while campaigning for Eileen and you were the first person I shared my idea with. You told me a few others had been whispering the idea into Matt's ear, with little response. Then a few weeks later, I ran into the man himself at Eileen's HQ and decided to ask him directly. He gave me about three answers: "Not in this city. Maybe back in Texas." and "I'd rather run for governor." and "I couldn't get the money."

Yeah, money is a big part of it, but hell, thinking back to Tom's write-in bid in 99, if I recall correctly, he forced Willie into a runoff, spending only $25,000 to Willie's millions. 'Course, a lot of people disliked Willie then.

I think, despite Newsom's big bucks, it can be done (maybe).

And here's another twist — it might serve progressive purposes better if IRV is NOT in place by Nov.

Imagine this: Matt jumps in mid-summer or so, steals/earns/wins the progressive vote — especially from people like me who have been sitting out the race so far — and gets enough of the general vote to force Newsom into a runoff! That clears the field and gives us a month to rally the troops.

Next stage: All the other progressive spoilers (egads, I'm using that undemocratic word!) are out of the running, and it's Matt versus Gavin, hopefully with all the other progressive candidates throwing their support behind Matt. (Unless Tom chooses to be bitter about it.) Add to Matt's base moderate Latinos, passionate artists and just decent folk citywide who respect a person of integrity.

And maybe, just maybe...

It would get nasty of course. Gavin wouldn't say much negative about Matt, but all his proxies would — the Chron, Ex and Independent, and not just the opinion writers. ALTHOUGH, I've noticed that certain editors and writers in strange places actually respect Matt — at the Ex, for ex., and the Bay Area Reporter (which smeared Eileen and endorsed Dufty). And it seems like he's not even on Phil Matier's radar. (Had the chance to run Matier over the other day, btw. Decided not to cause my son was in the car with me and thought that might set a bad example.)

And Matt would get scrutinized and chastised for some of the very traits that endear him to those of us who like him — his disheveled bohemian sensibility, his casualness, openness and his compassion for the underdog.

This much I know: If Matt runs, I'll work like hell to help get him elected. Maybe pranksters like you and me should start a petition to get him to run and get a bunch of signatures and hand it to Matt to encourage him...;-)

Although, and this is my final word on the topic — for today: If Matt's heart isn't in it, he shouldn't run. He shouldn't have to sacrifice himself for the city or the likes of us. If it would make him unhappy to run for or be mayor, he shouldn't do it. For his own good, and pragmatically speaking, because it would make for a bad candidacy. To me, it's pretty obvious when his heart's not in something. BUT, the mayor's job looks a lot easier than the board president's. Far fewer meetings and bureaucracy and lots of perqs! So maybe he'd be happier as mayor. And it would be great for the city if he did run. I think it would energize a lot of people, and open the debate in this city wide open.

What do you think?


[Editor’s note: Sue Peters wrote this email on May 14, 2003. On August 8 Matt Gonzalez did indeed announce his candidacy, and pre-history became history.]