Wasn’t yesterday’s post about why Chris Daly wants to be the SF regional director for the State Democratic Party extremely fun, in an inside-baseball kind of way? Chris actually sent a very nice email about the interview yesterday too, which impresses me even more now that I realize he’d just managed to narrowly escape the wrath of a subset of union members (by “I know you are but what am I”-ing them into submission, which I must say I kind of respect) at a Democratic party fundraiser! Like Mr. Daly and the protesting unioners agree, what do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? [your answer here.]
Anyways, just out of curiosity, I also asked Daly some (non-confrontational) questions about his second term and what he thought was the future of the local progressive movement after his contentious 2006 election. Here’s his answers, below.
Back in 2006, you became the candidate who, for better or for worse, captured the sense of “taking back our city” for the progressives. Ever since then, it seems like progressives lost a lot of that energy locally — they didn’t put up a strong opposition to Newsom in 2007 and now with Obama’s election (yay!), everyone’s very focused on the national agenda instead of local issues. Why do you think that is? Do you think that’s something you can tap back into again, or do you think people have just moved on?
I have to say that my reelection in 2006 was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through. While it was amazing to seen so many people rally to the progressive cause, the campaign took a pretty major toll on the progressive movement. We were energized during the campaign, but the experience also left us exhausted.
By the middle of 2007, many of our best political organizers had already left for other parts of the country to join the Obama campaign, and the Newsom camp had fully recovered from their missteps. At that point, it was already too late to mount a serious progressive challenge to Newsom. There is no doubt that that was the recent low point for progressives in San Francisco. The momentum was bad enough that every progressive stakeholder feared progressive losses in the Board races the following year.
But by the end of 2007, I pitched an idea to Aaron Peskin to get back the lost momentum. If we were able to rally progressives around Barack Obama, and if the Obama campaign caught fire, we could jump-start our movement. It worked out better than I had hoped. Our slate for the Democratic County Central Committee won overwhelmingly, and we were able to take control of the local Party. Then, exceptional candidates for Supervisor emerged in all the swing districts. I’m quite thrilled to be passing the baton to Eric Mar, David Chiu, David Campos, and John Avalos. By the way, Barack Obama is also the President. [ed: No, really ? Hadn’t heard that.]
When you look back at your second term,what legislative accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Over the course of 8.5 years, we’ve been able to do some pretty amazing stuff. In my second term, we got the School District to rebuild Bessie Carmichael School and the City to create Victoria Manalo Draves Park. Bessie students, mostly Filipino and Latino, used to go to school in WWII-era bungalows with leaky roofs. Now they have a beautiful new school. I just love taking my kids to Vicky Park. I’m also pretty proud of the struggle to save the tenants at Trinity Plaza. Over most of my second term, I was continually amazed at the courage and conviction of those tenants.
You’re, to put it mildly, a controversial figure in local politics! What do you say to the haters?
I say all sorts of things to the haters! You should send me a nasty email sometime.
Thanks again, Lumpy, for graciously agreeing to talk to us here at the Appeal! (Also, thanks for letting us call you Lumpy.) Meanwhile, I’m going to look into these allegations you make about this “Barack Obama” fellow being the president.