Among the duties executed by California’s lieutenant governor, voting in the local Democratic Party endorsement proceedings is probably far down on the list of priorities. Yet it’s one Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom won’t get to do even if he wanted to, after he was removed from the Democratic County Central Committee on Wednesday night.
Chairman Aaron Peskin made the move to remove Newsom from the Democratic Party’s local apparatus on the basis — first made public in the San Francisco Chronicle — that Newsom has moved to Marin.
And Peskin had to — once an elected official is no longer a registered voter in San Francisco, they must be removed from the DCCC according to the rules of the body.
“The rules are the rules,” Peskin told the Appeal. “The same thing happened when [member of the Board of Equalization] Betty Yee moved to Alameda.”
Yet the move sticks in moderates’ craws for a variety of reasons. First, that it was done at the beginning of the meeting, when a fair number of voting members had yet to arrive.
Second, it was done without advance warning to Newsom or anyone else, without being placed on the agenda.
And third, it politically benefits progressives like sheriff candidate Ross Mirkarimi and district attorney candidate David Onek, who will have an easier time winning the official Democratic Party endorsements at the DCCC’s next meeting August 17 without Newsom or a proxy voting for moderate candidates like current DA George Gascon.
Most of all, nobody is really sure where Newsom lives. Reports said that he moved with his family to Ross, but reports also say the move was just a temporary one, while the family looked for another home in the city.
Moderates compared the situation to Chris Daly’s Fairfield situation, in which the former supervisor retained both his Mission District condo and seat on the committee.
It’s unclear how much political benefit there will be with Newsom removed. Candidates must receive a majority of votes to win the DCCC endorsement. With Newsom gone, there are 32 members, meaning a majority of 17 is needed. With Newsom reseated, there are 33, meaning one still needs 17 votes.
Those present voted 15-9 in favor of removing Newsom, with nine members absent or on their way to the meeting as soon as they found out what was afoot.
Newsom’s spokesman in Sacramento, Francisco Castillo, did not respond to emails and
telephone messages seeking comment.
“This is a big deal,” says Supervisor Scott Wiener — the former chair of the DCCC before Peskin unseated him — who added that if Newsom can be reseated of he or a proxy shows up at the Aug. 17 meeting with proof that the lieutentant governor does indeed still live in San Francisco. “It’s a legitimate question to ask [where Newsom lives]… but this is a process issue.”
Peskin should have put Newsom’s removal on the agenda, Wiener says. “You give people notice on any item that’s going to be voted on before the committee. That’s how you operate. That didn’t happen here — that’s not an appropriate way to operate as a serious central committee.”
And had he, the result would have been different. “Nobody knew what was coming,” said one attendee, who asked to remain anonymous. “If this had been on the agenda, everyone would have been there — and there would have been a different outcome.”
However, removing Newsom has been on the DCCC’s mind for some time, according to Peskin, who said that the party sent Newsom an official letter, asking him, among other things, where he lived – to which Newsom never responded. “There’s been plenty of due process,” Peskin said. “If the lieutenant governor returns to San Francisco, we will welcome him back with open arms.”