“Tale of Two Davids” casts Campos as the progressive hero

David Campos (foreground) had a good night in his first debate against Assembly opponent David Chiu.
Mike Koozmin/SF Media Co.

David Campos presented “a tale of two Davids” tonight [Thu/23] in his first debate with David Chiu in their race to replace Assemblymember Tom Ammiano in AD17, contrasting his solid progressive record against Chiu’s more pragmatic approach. Chiu reinforced the narrative by repeatedly touting his “effectiveness” and record at City Hall.

So the question that may decide the race is whether the corporate-friendly “jobs agenda” that Chiu has pursued with Mayor Ed Lee – an approach that is now triggering a political backlash as evictions and gentrification rage – is popular with voters. It wasn’t with the San Francisco Young Democrats, which sponsored the debate in the Main Library tonight and then voted to endorse Campos.

Campos brought the fire from the beginning, chiding Chiu for his chummy relationship with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and offering English and Spanish translations of the saying, “Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Chiu tried to focus on his record and political skills – “We need an Assembly person who is effective at getting things done,” Chiu said – but he seemed weary and thrown off balance by Campos’ well-delivered ideological jabs.

“I’m surprised as a tenant you would support the demolition of 1500 rent-controlled units at Parkmerced,” Campos said after Chiu identified with struggling renters. And when Chiu touted the condo conversion moratorium deal he cut, Campos said, “There doesn’t have to be a lobbying effort by tenant groups to get me to do the right thing.”

As Chiu listed his legislative accomplishments, Campos said it was important to “draw a line in the sand” against the powerful corporate interests that hold sway in City Hall these days. “ I have a different definition of effectiveness,” Campos said, criticizing Chiu for supporting Twitter’s $22 million tax break.

Chiu finally got testy and defensive, accusing Campos of also taking money from developers and corporations and with practicing divisive politics. “I do think the people in San Francisco are stick of these attacks,” Chiu said, and then indignantly offering, “I’m in nobody’s pocket.”

But Campos maintained both his narrative and his composure, calling Chiu out for crafting a watered-down alternative to Campos’ legislation requiring restaurants to comply with the Health Care Security Ordinance in paying for their employees’ health coverage and ensuring all surcharges tacked onto customers’ bill go to employees.

“You co-sponsored [the Campos legislation] then changed your mind when the Chamber told you,” Campos said.

When moderator Marisa Lagos from the Chronicle asked the two candidates whether they supported the deal that Mayor Lee cut with tech companies to charge $1 per bus stop for the “Google buses,” which the SFMTA board rubber-stamped this week, Chiu said, “I don’t think $1 per stop is enough.”

Campos pounced, citing Chiu’s support for the deal and quotes in a press release that the Mayor’s Office put out and his absence from the SFMTA meeting where Campos publicly called for a better deal for the city. “It’s one thing to say it here and it’s another thing to say it at City Hall,” Campos said, continuing the offensive by returning to Chiu’s sponsorship of the Twitter tax break, which disappeared from Chiu’s campaign page as the issue has turned toxic recently. “I think you know that was a mistake,” Campos said.

Chiu didn’t respond, choosing instead to actually emphasize the contrast between his insider role at City Hall and Campos’ identification with the activists. “I’m trying to work behind the scenes and get things done, he’s grandstanding before the cameras,” Chiu said.

Campos extended his “tale of two Davids” narrative, charging that there are two David Chius: the candidate first elected with progressive support in 2008, and the calculating politician who works with the moderates and the business community to advance his interests.

“Which David Chiu is going to go to Sacramento?” Campos asked.

Chiu tried to bridge the gulf between his progressive and pragmatic selves: “In 2008 I said I believed it’s progressive for us to be creating jobs and building housing.” In his closing, Chiu reminded the capacity crowd that there was a recession when he and Campos were elected the Board of Supervisors in 2008. “What we didn’t need at that time is discussion about ideology,” Chiu said.

Campos used his closing to return to the personal story he told in his introduction about immigrating from Guatemala with his family when he was 14, and seeing such hope and opportunity in the United States. “There is something happening to our city and country that we are losing what made us great,” Campos said. “This campaign is about taking our city back, it’s about protecting the heart of San Francisco.”


Campos, that is.

Sounds like he totally nailed it about what kind of a politician Chiu is. As the SFBG has said before, "getting things done" begs the question -what exactly is it that you want "done?"

Chiu's no dummy though. He's going to do everything he can to run to the left before the election. And progressives need to call his bluff. 2014 will be a great year to push progressive proposals at the BOS. If Chiu votes the right way, great. If he doesn't, even better. We have a golden opportunity here to either sharpen the differences between the candidates and thus reveal the true nature of Chiu, or to, well, get stuff done!

Maybe both.

One thing though... Ed Lee gets one more supe out of this deal either way. That sucks.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 23, 2014 @ 11:32 pm

that plays well in the Mission will convince city voters from less sympathetic districts.

Chui is the more palatable choice for the silent majority type of moderate voter. Campos is kinda scary unless you're a hardcore leftie.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:35 am

Not screaming perhaps, but not silent.

Posted by John Murphy on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:02 am

Not when they have to have the last word on every comment.

In fact, they're neither silent nor a majority.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:22 am

I love how Guest doesn't seem to realize that he/she is quoting Nixon.

Posted by steven on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:33 am

I've even quoted Spiro Agnew here and I'm pretty sure you didn't realize.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:48 am

the voters who will support Chiu are the ones who would have supported Nixon/Agnew.

Posted by Hoss on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

(and I'd assume that they did, else how did he win?) then that's not an inaccurate categorization, although of course you made it to be a tad snide.

Nixon got caught but his observation here was pertinent. The majority of ordinary voters are not activists or advocates, and you cannot divine what the majority think by listening to the loudmouth extremists on both the left and the right.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 5:33 pm

The "silent majority moderate voter" = the people who can't find their ass using both hands.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 9:59 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:51 am

Based on the issues discussed in this article, you would think David Campos and David Chiu were running for Mayor.

I'd like to know -- what would they do in Sacramento?

Did the debate focus *at all* on the differences they would bring on changing state law? Do they support repealing Ellis Act? Do they support repealing Costa-Hawkins?

What about Prop 13 reform? A vehicle license fee option for San Francisco? Getting the awful Palmer court decision -- which prohibits inclusionary housing for new rentals -- overturned legislatively?

And I know it's easy for a San Francisco legislator to say they're on the good side of all these things. So what is their strategy for getting this stuff passed statewide?

So much of our problems in San Francisco are because of dysfunction in state law, but when you get a high-profile race like this -- the only thing local progressives seem to care about is: where do you stand on some local matter?

Sorry, the two Davids are not running for Mayor. They're running for Assembly.

Posted by Paul Hogarth on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:04 am

Campos and Chiu will both say they're on the right side of all these issues.

Chiu will claim that he has the capacity to get it done, because he's a "can-do" guy who "gets stuff done."

Campos will claim he's the only one who will push for any of it.

The important thing to remember, is that in order to "get stuff done," you first have to *want* to get something done other than advance your political career, something that Chiu lacks.

Oh, and BeyondChron will endorse Chiu.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:34 am

influence moderates and conservatives. I cannot see a polarizing figure like Campos pulling that off. He's more likely to be sitting in the corner being ignored.

Chui can work with a broader range of people, and that is why gets things done, even if he has to compromize some. Politics is, after all, the art of compromize.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:37 am

Greg, no need to make gratuitous personal cheap shots that undercut what was an otherwise reasonable response to my question.

I don't work at BeyondChron anymore. I left a year ago, and now work at Daily Kos. But even if I was still there, your comments are uncalled for.

Posted by Paul Hogarth on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 11:03 am

"I left a year ago, and now work at Daily Kos."

Well that's even worse!. DK = Dem koolaid site. Shills for the useless misnamed "Democratic" Party which usually serves as employees of the other right-wing Big Business party.

Tough luck.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Greg, no need to make gratuitous personal cheap shots at what was an otherwise reasonable response to my question.

I don't work at Beyond Chron anymore. I left a year ago, and am now at Daily Kos. But even if I were still there, your comments were uncalled for.

Posted by Paul Hogarth on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 11:04 am

if you consider it to be a negative. I'm glad to hear that you apparently do. But do you disagree with my prediction?

Congratulations on your new job with Daily Kos. I lurk there once in a while. Some of the diarists have interesting things to say. There are smart people who write there on occasion. It's possible to learn something as long as you steer clear of the Party cheerleading diaries (which of course is the main purpose of the site). Never joined myself for just that reason. It's a Democratic Party right or wrong site, and I just can't put on ideological blinders like that.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 7:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:52 am

If David Chiu could not achieve anything close to the equivalent of Prop 13 reform in 3 terms as SF Board of Supervisors President, then what makes anyone think that he can achieve anything of the sort in more hostile Sacramento?

When Hogarth says "get things done," he means more money for Randy, for whom activism is a sinecure.

Sure, David Chiu can pass legislation, but he's only able to do so when he's bowed to the local corporate interests while screwing neighborhoods. The reach around from the right to keep the presidency demonstrates that David Chiu has no consistent set of political values. He's all transactional.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 7:33 pm

goes double for Campos. Even SFBG categorized Chui as "pragmatic".

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:53 am

The Guardian can report what it wants to hear, but that's a lot different than what actually happened. Campos seems to be running on identity politics and the legacy of others, not on his accomplishments. He is no Ammiano, and he's no Milk. He's not even John Avalos, who as a progressive actually has real accomplishments to his name. What will Campos actually do about affordability and housing in San Francisco policy wise?

Chiu shouldn't have to defend his Twitter vote. Like many people, I'm not in favor of giving tax breaks to the big companies, but in the long run this was the better option. It was that or they wouldn't be in San Francisco, and we'd have no revenue instead. That building would be empty, but it wouldn't make San Francisco more affordable. Would be great if SF could tax the rich on income, but it's not possible.

Posted by Dieter on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:18 am

When Sup. David Campos told his story, those in attendance for the SFYoung Dems were captivated. He described an SF city where cooperate interests were taking priority in City Hall over the issues affecting the middle class and poor.

You could really feel the energy behind Campos. He mentioned his husband in the audience twice and didn't shy away from calling for greater protections for our transgender community.

I thought the moderator did a great job and now the SF Young Democrats endorse Supervisor David Campos to the State Assembly in District 17.
Well done David.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 1:02 am

Chui actually thinks about an issue before deciding.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:39 am

"getting things done"
"can-do guy"
"our shared progressive values"

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:20 am

The question is whether the effort gets any reward.

SFBG is trying to knock Chui because he is a "moderate". But he did broker the condo deal which was a far better deal for tenants than I ever thought possible to enact.

Campos would have gotten nowhere with that because he cannot talk to his opponents.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:47 am

Your statement includes a Freudian slip. You meant to say "corporate interests", but you wrote "cooperate interests. Chu is indeed, a cooperatist. He's trying to cooperate by including moderates in the mix.

And that is why he will win the race.

"He described an SF city where cooperate interests were taking priority in City Hall over the issues affecting the middle class and poor."

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:37 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:49 am

They are. You haven't figured that out yet?!

By San Francisco standards, these politicians are conservatives.

"Moderate" is newspeak. They hide behind the word "moderate" to appear "mainstream" and less dangerous. Similar to the sit-lie campaign where they wrapped their hateful anti-homeless campaign in words such as "civil" and "safety." It was BS/PR/newspeak. Some people refer to these same politicians as neocons and neoliberals.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

would consider themselves to be conservatives.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

Well what they would consider themselves to be, and what they really ARE can be two entirely different things.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

he is really white, you'd refer to him that way?

If you are far left then everyone will appear right wing to you. So what?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:26 pm

I read an article the other night about this new trolling style. It's the style you use. The author pointed out this new trolling style where trolls do nothing but ask insipid and irrelevant questions in order to bait people. One commenter wrote that some trolls will need a new keyboard very soon having worn out the question mark key. (You have two question marks in your very short splat above). Have you worn out your question mark key yet?....because this style is your "signature."

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

Patterns of trolling!

Posted by marcos on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 7:21 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:54 am

complaining about newspeak from the left?

Posted by guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:33 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 1:07 pm

"...contrasting his solid progressive record against Chiu’s more pragmatic approach."

That sounds like progressives are not pragmatic. That's how I read that, and I don't agree with that. And the conservatives would say that a "pragmatic" politician is the preferred politician. The way they use it, it's a buzzword, like other keywords (intended to touch the emotions) that they use.

I wonder if David Campos made mention that David Chiu is the reason we now have the city-wide nudity ban. He was the deciding vote for that conservative law.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:32 am

The real question is who can work with a sufficiently broad spectrum of politicians and interests to actually achieve some substantial goals, primarily economic goals.

I suspect that most people would say Chui unless Campos can show a greater willingness to cross lines and appeal to folks outside his favored support groups.

Campos has the bigger job to do here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 8:57 am

This "getting things done" mantra that Chiu and Lee use, like your valuing of working with "a sufficiently broad spectrum" on "primarily economic goals," derives its value complete from what you're trying to get done. If we don't like their goals, why would be want someone who is effective at reaching those goals? To me and the Guardian, politics starts with value statements and ideology, and in this debate, Campos was more effective at letting the audience know what he values and what he'll pursue, while Chiu still seems to believe that his successes at City Hall are what matter, despite the fact that restive voters have serious concerns about how business is being conducted under the dome, and in whose interests.

Posted by steven on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:44 am

Campos can have all the values and ideologies he likes, but if they do not resonate with the average moderate voter, then what?

And even if he gets elected, he still has to work with the moderate center - something he can get away with not doing at present.

We already saw how that played out in the last mayoral race. Avalos stayed true to his ideas and values, and over 60% of voters didn't pic7k him for any of the three spots.

First you have to get elected and then you have to play nice with others. Can Campos do that?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:57 am

Yes, Avalos stayed true to his progressive ideals and came in second in the mayor's race with 40 percent of the vote. That was a citywide race, including the conservative west side of the city, while Assembly District 17 is mostly the progressive east side. Layer on that the fact that the political dynamics of the city are changing, with people more concerned about affordability and displacement than they are the Lee and Chiu "jobs agenda," which has contributed to our current problem. It's still going to be a tight race, but if Chiu's plan is to continue associating himself with Lee's politics, he's going to lose.  

Posted by steven on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

about housing affordability than with jobs. I disagree. If you lose your job then no SF home is affordable. People are only focusing on RE prices because they already have a nice job and Lee's policies have helped make that happen.

Moreover, the fact that Campos claims to be more concerned how high rents and evictions is meaningless unless he can enact something in Sac. And he hasn't even managed to enact something like that in SF, where he is a much bigger frog in a much smaller pond.

Again, how will be work with centrists and conservatives to repeal Ellis? By being an ideological bigot?

Finally, while I do not accept that Chui is channeling Lee, as you claim, even if he were, so what? Polls put Lee's approval rating at over 50%. Much higher than Avalos's 40% core support, and Campos isn't as smart as Avalos.

your guy is going down.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

is take advice from those who exist inside the progressive echo chamber.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

...in AD13. That's a point that gets lost in this discussion.
In AD13 Avalos and Lee were virtually tied in first choice ballots. They don't break down RCV by AD, but Avalos gained a few points in percentage terms on Lee in the RCV *overall*. He was down by 23 percentage points in the first choice ballots -60K votes to 37K votes, and finished about 19 percentage points down. If one could separate out AD13, he probably gained a similar amount. In other words, it was close in AD13 but Avalos likely won the district by a couple points.

Since then, the politics of Ed Lee/David Chiu has become less popular. Lee is slipping in the polls. The housing crisis is hitting hard, *especially* on that side of the city, and David Chiu is tied to some horrible votes. And I don't see the situation getting any better in the next year under Ed Lee.

Plus, Chiu is not an incumbent.

Plus, turnout is going to be higher than 2011.

Plus, Campos is starting to take the campaign seriously much earlier than Avalos.

There's supposedly an independent poll out there that says Chiu currently has a 4 point edge. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say Campos probably wins this in November.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

I might give Avalos a speculative vote in a local election, especially if I knew the incumbent was going to win easily.

But for an important state election, I'm not willing to take that risk.

Chui is going to look like a safer and more pragmatic choice to a lot of waverers, don't know's and swing voters.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:57 am

who makes up any argument, no matter how specious, just to get the last word.

If anything, there are more people who would vote for a strong progressive for the Assembly than for mayor. Case in point: Tom Ammiano.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 8:31 am

support for far left candidates that I have to question whether you ever leave the comfortable confines of a small group of like-minded zealots.

BTW, have you been watching the economic crisis in your precious Venezuela?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

not go over so well city wide either.

People who go to these events are not he general voter, so looking good before a self selected group of lefties isn't likely a winner amongst the general population.

Really the main progressive value is getting over and calling it values. Campos is government institutionalized, his need to toe the SEIU line is just as required as it is for a right winger to obey the oil industry. You might agree with the servile SEIU policies, but it's not "values" it's just that dreaded pandering thing.

Posted by guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:46 am

of telling audiences what they want to hear.

Chui could credibly stand before both a left and right wing group. Campos would get nowhere with the latter. And that is why Chui is the winner here - he can forge compromizes and get things done. Campos will just scream in the dark, like most SF progressives.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

Seems like Chiu stood before a centrist group, at least as far as the SF political spectrum. Didn't go so well, did it?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 26, 2014 @ 10:49 am

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