[Hpn] SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Mayoral Race: Democrat Gavin Newsom wins - Associated Press - December 10, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Wed, 10 Dec 2003 13:18:42 -0500


Mayoral Race: Democrat Gavin Newsom wins!

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By LISA LEFF- Associated Press - December 10, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO - Democrat Gavin Newsom fended off a surprisingly
strong Green Party challenger in the race to succeed Mayor Willie
Brown, becoming the youngest person chosen to head the city in
more than a century.

Newsom, a city supervisor and wealthy restaurateur who was backed
by most of the political establishment, received 118,651 votes,
or 53 percent, in Tuesday's runoff election. Matt Gonzalez, a
fellow city supervisor who surrounded himself with artists,
activists and earnest volunteers, got 107,030 votes, or 47
percent.

"This feels pretty good, doesn't it?" Newsom said in his victory
speech. "There's a reason why we are the shining light for the
rest of the state and the nation, and it's the extraordinary
diversity of San Francisco."

As many as 20,000 absentee and provisional ballots remained to be
counted, but Gonzalez conceded defeat after the election, which
drew a 50 percent voter turnout and a record number of absentee
ballots.

At 36, Newsom will be the youngest mayor of San Francisco since
another Democrat, James Duval Phelan, was elected in 1897. His
victory, along with 39-year-old prosecutor Kamala Harris' upset
of District Attorney Terence Hallinan in the day's other runoff
election, brings a generational change to the city politics.

Brown, 69, was barred by term limits from running again. He
appointed Newsom to the city's governing Board of Supervisors and
personally invited former President Clinton (news - web sites) to
campaign for him when the race appeared tight.

Brown exulted in his protege's victory Tuesday night, then
slipped away from the victory party before Newsom took the stage.
Brown also backed Harris, who will be the city's first female
district attorney and the state's first black district
attorney.

Gonzalez's insurgent campaign was overwhelmed by Newsom's
superior financial and organizational efforts. Newsom's campaign
collected more than $3.6 million for the race, outspending
Gonzalez by more than 8-to-1 and overwhelming the Greens'
volunteer-driven effort.

Coming so soon after Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web
sites)'s election as governor, Newsom's victory was a relief for
Democrats who feared another embarrassing loss — this time in a
city the party has controlled for decades.

Still, with Democrats representing 54 percent of the registered
voters and Greens 3 percent, Gonzalez said his 47 percent showing
should send a message to the two major parties that voters will
respond to candidates willing to take on the political
establishment.

"This city really represents the most American of American
values," Gonzalez said in his concession speech. "I think the
Democratic party and other parties ought to acknowledge that
people voted for a candidate outside their party because that
candidate represented their values."

Gonzalez, a former Democrat who switched parties three years ago,
fueled his campaign with the frustration felt by many hard-core
liberals over the pro-development direction the city took under
Brown. Newsom, who had sponsored a ballot measure last year to
reduce cash grants to the homeless, portrayed Gonzalez as an
ideologue lacking the will and practical ideas for creating jobs
and housing.

Gonzalez will continue to serve as president of the Board of
Supervisors. Newsom will name his own replacement, but may have
to work hard as mayor to get majority support from the board,
where most of the supervisors were solidly against Brown.

Harris, a Brown protege, dramatically ousted two-term prosecutor
Hallinan, 67. He had campaigned as "the nation's most progressive
D.A." but gained notoriety for indicting the city's police
chief.

Hallinan took on the police department after three off-duty
officers were involved in a late-night street brawl over a bag of
steak fajitas. He later dropped charges against the police chief
and assistant chief, and a judge earlier this year dismissed
charges against five other officers accused of conspiring to
cover up the brawl.

Harris repeatedly slammed Hallinan as soft on crime, and cited
managerial problems in the district attorney's office that have
contributed to a huge backlog of cases pending trial.

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