“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.”


I'm sure Babs and Nancy will be getting back to you real soon. Or never.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 2:59 pm

While this is a fairly irrelevant semantic debate, Congress is the name of our bicameral legislature, comprised of the Senate (including Sen. Bernie Sanders -- who is awesome, by the way) and US House of Representative (including US Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who I find less awesome than Sanders). Both Sanders and Pelosi are consider "members of Congress," but it is also true that Senators prefer that more exalted title.

Posted by steven on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

rather than "Congressman". The former clearly means the House; the latter does not specify which chamber.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:57 pm

True. I get so tired of hearing it implied that the senate is not part of congress. It's a common mistake I hear from people who should know better: "the congress and senate."

Instead of: Senators and Representatives. They are both part of congress (two bodies).

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

of the Senate and the House. And the proper names are Senators and Representatives. But in common language, congressman and representative are interchangeable. Almost no one refers to a Senator as a Congressman.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

members of Congress because that is what they are.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 6:00 am

Congressmen, almost never. I have never heard anyone in print or verbally refer to a Senator as a Congressman until you did.

Just admit that you thought Bernie Sanders was still a member of the House of Representatives rather than a Senator. Either way, its a statewide election as Vermont only has one US representative.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 8:56 am

Sanders was in so I saw no reason to state that.

Just admit that you thought Senators were not members of Congress, and we can move on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 9:57 am

part of Congress. I guess civics classes aren't what they used to be.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 9:58 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 10:17 am
Posted by steven on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Many of us won't forget. I will never vote for any of them for any office.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:09 pm


Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

My guess is that both Campos and Mirkarimi will win.

Ed Lee, not so sure.

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

no question of you talking up your book there then, right?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:59 am

NOT been done by David Campos - who's better at standing outside the circle, throwing stones and marching in circles with his fist in the air. That's a fact. If San Franciscans want an Assembly member whose main focus is giving long speeches to an empty Assembly chamber and proposing legislation which goes nowhere from Day I then Campos is their man - an empty suit who views himself as a legend in the vein of his idols Chavez and Castro. Whomever wins this seat will be 1 of 80 members, unable to get anything done without cooperation and conciliation and David is neither a cooperative or conciliatory person.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

Campos either loses or is ineffective.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

He get my hito free bus rides and promise me free check soon. I have no papers but he say "no paper - no problem." Where I register for Campos?


Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

When the Sacramento money starts to flow, watch how fast Campos starts to take a nose dive.

he's not that bright and his consultant is expensive and not very good.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 5:17 am

“There is something happening to our city and country that we are losing what made us great,” Said Campos… Yeah, you showed here carpetbagger… time to get lost yourself...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 11:44 am

Campos is a master of the meaningless gesture.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:43 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 25, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

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