By the time David Chiu resigned from the state Assembly to take over as SF’s city attorney, former Sup. David Campos—who, like all of us, knew what was about to happen—had already announced for the seat.
He was, and is, eminently qualified: an immigrant who arrived in South Central LA at 14 knowing no English, who four years later got admitted to Stanford, and later Harvard Law; eight years as an effective progressive on the Board of Supes; three years as a deputy county executive in Santa Clara; chair of the SF Democratic Party and vice-chair of the state party.
We heard that Sup. Matt Haney, who hadn’t even finished one term on the board, was also interested in running, and we shook our heads. Haney had always been a staunch progressive. He left law school to work for Barack Obama for President. He led the discussion on school-renaming on the School Board (he doesn’t talk about that much these days, but he was right). He ran directly against two YIMBY candidates for supervisor, and challenged Mayor London Breed on housing and homeless issues.
How could he possibly run against Campos? He couldn’t run to the left. He couldn’t say that Campos, the first candidate in the race, a gay Latino, wasn’t qualified, or progressive enough.
And, we figured, he can’t really run to the right, either. That would amount to giving up the politics that have driven his entire career. Matt Haney can’t cozy up to the mayor, the real-estate industry, and the YIMBYs—not the Matt Haney we thought we knew.
But we were wrong. That’s exactly what happened. Blinded by toxic ambition, Haney decided that his own political advancement was more important than the causes he claimed to care about all these years.
The Bay Guardian has worked with conservatives many times over the years. We’ve endorsed people whose politics were well to the right of ours—because we are willing to deal with people who disagree with us, as long as they are principled and consistent. Sometimes, you can forge unlikely alliances.
But we’ve always thought the hottest place is hell was reserved for people who pretended to be progressives when it suited them, and then changed their political positions when they needed to raise money and run for higher office.
Haney, we believe, has no intention of spending enough time in the state Assembly to develop seniority and leadership to help his district. He doesn’t even want to finish his first term as supervisor. (Instead, he is prepared to give Breed an appointment that will end the progressive super-majority on the board).
No: He will park in Sacramento for a couple of years, establish a fundraising base, and then run for the next office that opens up—mayor, Congress, whatever. Like Gavin Newsom before him, he’s been watching too many episodes of the West Wing.
We are deeply disappointed in Haney. We supported him for every office before this one. But he has sold out his progressive legacy, and all the people who helped him get elected; he has become a full-on YIMBY and supporter of the same failed private-market economics that just two years ago he disputed.
Haney has voted in favor of market-rate developments favored by nobody but the YIMBYs and the developers. He has attacked Campos for supporting the Mission Moratorium—when Haney, back then, also supported it.
More recently, he joined Mayor London Breed and State Sen. Scott Wiener in supporting a version of redistricting that would likely turn his own district, among others, to the mayor’s allies. Sup. Hillary Ronen, long an ally of Haney’s, called the move “disgusting.”
It’s not a surprise that the mayor has endorsed Haney.
There are few Republicans in San Francisco, but there are two distinct political parties, the progressives and the moderates. Haney was part of the progressive movement—and when you are part of a movement, you need to understand that the cause is bigger than yourself.
Now he’s signed on with the other team. Because it’s all about himself.
Vote for David Campos on April 19.