SPECIAL SERIES : Municipal Runoff 2003
Gonzalez Loses Mayor's Bid
Sadness, hope reigns at Green concession party.
December 9, 2003 6:25 PM
Green Party candidate and scruffy underdog Matt Gonzalez lost an enthusiastic bid for mayor's office by less than 5 percent of the vote. Pushing for a 60 percent voter turnout, Tuesday's gloomy weather brought only 46 percent of registered voters to the polls, up by less than 1 percent from last month's election.
In a race that was just as much about looks and lifestyles as the core issues facing San Francisco, Matt Gonzalez still managed to come out on top--despite his loss in the runoff for mayor.
After garnering just 20 percent of the vote in last month's election, Gonzalez earned enough of the progressive vote to give frontrunner Gavin Newsom a run for his money--literally. While the Newsom campaign spent almost $4 million on his bid for office, Gonzalez's campaign was fueled largely by the energies of its young fan base.
In the past few months Gonzalez led a movement that has united progressive liberal voters from all backrounds. Much of his support has come from young voters, artists, musicians and political activists of all kinds.
"I haven't seen this much excitement in politics since the Kennedys," volunteer Cynthia Johnston said.
Johnston had been volunteering today for the Gonzalez campaign making phone calls and hitting the streets with signs in the Bayview/Hunter's Point Distict.
"Matt has energized the younger generation, helping them get active, and working for change," Johnston said.
The race as a whole has been under the national eye in light of the fact that Democrats are in jeopardy of losing one their most liberal cities. The Democratic Party came out in major support of Newsom, publicing an endorsement by Al Gore and flying out Bill Clinton yesterday to rally support yesterday. Gonzalez would have been the first Green mayor of a major city. Santa Monica had a Green mayor, Mike Feinstein, from 2000-2002.
"To send the most popular ex-president is a symbol that the party is grooming Newsom," said August Beck, a worker for Internationalist Socialist Organization, referring to Bill Clinton's special visit to San Francisco to endorse Newsom yesterday.
Beck thinks that Gonzalez getting into the runoff is huge. He is convinced that the people of San Francisco have become disillusioned with the two-party system. According to Beck, Matt Gonzalez has set a precedent and is starting a shift and by bringing democracy back to San Francisco.
The Gonzalez concession party also brought out many local politicians including supervisors Chris Daly, Gerardo Sandoval, Aaron Peskin and Jake McGoldrick. Former Mayor Art Agnos was also in attendence to show his support for Gonzalez.
Supervisor Daly was an emcee of sorts for the night, introducing some of Gonzalez's strongest supporters.
"If Newsom wants to give breaks to downtown and wants to keep dirty diesel buses on the streets...if he wants to scapegoat the poor, homeless and working class," Daly said. "We're going to take out his legs."
When Gonzalez took the stage he recieved an enourmous ovation. Gonzalez pointed out that it was remarkable that a city with 3 percent registered Green voters had 47 percent of all voters voting for a Green candidate.
"People voted outside the lines because they value democracy," Gonzalez said. "We didn't win it, we didn't lose it either."
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