Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

D8 supervisor candidate Bill Hemenger spins lack of endorsements, opens Noe Valley office

District 8 supervisor candidate Bill Hemenger (seen at right as a young Boy Scout) has turned his lack of institutional support into a campaign attack.

In an email to supporters he sent Monday, September 13, Hemenger ballyhooed that he is “not playing” the endorsement game. And in a dig at his opponents, he claims by not taking endorsements “from any politician, political organization or interest group” he won’t be beholden to “San Francisco’s Political Machine.”

According to the email, Hemenger “has one goal in mind once he is elected: to do whatever is best for the City and its residents. He knows that he cannot do this if his loyalties lie elsewhere – for example, to the entrenched political interests that have wreaked havoc on our city government for too long.”

Yet the business executive – he quit his job at Oracle to run for public office – is relatively unknown within local Democratic and LGBT political circles and was never expected to rack up a significant number of endorsements from politicians, special interest groups and political clubs.

Last year the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club endorsed local attorney Rafael Mandelman, while the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club co-endorsed Deputy City Attorney Scott Wiener and Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan.

Many city leaders had lined up behind the other candidates in the race months before Hemenger had launched his campaign. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Mayor Gavin Newsom are backing Wiener; state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is behind Mandelman; and current District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty endorsed Prozan.

This summer the local Democratic Party chose Mandelman as its number one pick in the race and Prozan its second choice under the city’s ranked choice voting system.

In his message Hemenger wrote that he “recognizes the danger to the democratic process that lies in seeking endorsements from entrenched interests” and noted that his opponents “have done a great job of dividing up among themselves the available endorsements from San Francisco’s political establishment.”

The emailed note, which was also posted to his campaign website, goes on to state that “while the number of endorsements that a candidate receives might matter to some voters, Bill and his supporters recognize endorsements for what they really mean. First, they generally indicate the extent to which the candidate has sought favor from a particular political organization or politician or the extent to which the candidate has made promises about what he or she will do once in office. Second, they absolutely act as an impediment to proper, objective, common-sense governing once in office.”

Yet Hemenger has sat down for endorsement interviews with a number of local groups and is seeking the endorsements of media outlets such as The Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Chronicle.

He told the Bay Area Reporter he is doing so because “the media is not hounding you for favors” and that he still wants to meet with the leaders of neighborhood organizations.

His policy could backfire though, as he said he has turned down endorsements from a number of groups who expressed frustration with him for wasting their time.

“They kind of get insulted. At one of these meetings they asked, ‘Why are you  here wasting my time if you are not going to take my endorsement?’ I told them that honestly, it is not anything to do with you,” he said. “It is an across the board statement. I told them why I am here is to educate you about another candidate out there. It doesn’t mean you should not know about another candidate.”

Hemenger is accepting endorsements from individuals, though he has yet to disclose the list on his campaign site.

“The biggest endorsements are the ones from residents. We will have a huge mailer with those endorsements on it that will go out,” said Hemenger, who took out a full-page ad in today’s (September 16) B.A.R. in which he called himself the “common sense alternative” in the race.

While he doesn’t explicitly state in the ad his endorsement policy, Hemenger does call himself “the only truly independent Democrat in the race.”

Hemenger has also opened a second campaign office in Noe Valley at 4128 24th Street between Castro and Diamond. It is in a vacant storefront in an old Victorian. He had already opened an office in the Castro at 2324 Market Street.

“We have more traffic at the Noe Valley office than we do here” in the Castro, said Hemenger. “I probably should have done that one first.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, September 16, 2010 @ 5:30 pm PST
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