Feinstein endorses Wiener in D8 race
by Matthew S. Bajko
Senator Dianne Feinstein has endorsed Scott Wiener, a former chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, in his bid to be the city's next District 8 supervisor, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.
In a statement released by Wiener's campaign, Feinstein (D-California) called Wiener an "effective chairman" of the local Democratic Party who had earned her support in the race.
"Scott understands the importance of public safety and quality of life in our neighborhoods. During these difficult times, San Francisco needs proven effective leaders, and Scott Wiener is my choice for supervisor," stated Feinstein.
Feinstein's endorsement of Wiener, a deputy city attorney, is the first by a member of the state's congressional delegation in the race to succeed Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is termed out this year and running for mayor in 2011. It is also one of the few times that Feinstein has endorsed in a supervisor race since they reverted back to district elections in 2000.
A former member of the Board of Supervisors herself, Feinstein became the city's first female mayor in November 1978 following the assassinations of Harvey Milk, the city's first openly gay supervisor, and then-Mayor George Moscone. Elected as California's first female senator in 1992, Feinstein has been judicious when it comes to endorsing in the city's supervisor races.
A spokesman for Feinstein couldn't recall whether she had weighed in on a District 8 race, considered to be the seat Milk once held in City Hall. So far Feinstein has endorsed in only one other supervisorial race this year; she is backing Janet Reilly in District 2.
Wiener said he has had "on and off communication" with Feinstein about gaining her backing in the race since he officially declared his intent to seek the seat last summer. She officially endorsed him Friday, April 30.
"Senator Feinstein is a respected leader in San Francisco and nationally. I am honored to have her support," Wiener said.
Along with his two-year stint as chair of the local Democratic Party, Wiener said the senator had also gotten to know him due to his being on the board of the Human Rights Campaign, the national LGBT lobbyist group based in D.C. He was termed off the group's board this ye
"Based on my perceptions, the senator cares very deeply about San Francisco and I think she understands the importance of the supervisor races this year, particularly the District 8 race. That is my sense at least," said Wiener when asked why Feinstein had endorsed him in the race.
Wiener is competing against two other well known out Democratic Party activists: Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Prozan and local attorney Rafael Mandelman. A third gay candidate gaining attention is businessman Bill Hemenger.
Feinstein remains an extremely popular politician with Democrats and flirted with running for governor this year. Her backing could give Wiener a slight edge in the D8 race, particularly with three other out candidates all splitting the gay vote and scrambling to line up support in the district's neighborhoods with more straight voters, such as Diamond Heights and Glen Park.
In his campaign statement, Wiener described Feinstein as an "effective legislator on issues ranging from gun control to environmental protection to judicial nominations."
In terms of LGBT issues, Feinstein has a more mixed record. She is hailed as a supporter of LGBT rights but has also disappointed LGBT constituents over the years.
In 2004 her questioning of Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to marry same-sex couples earned her the Pride Committee's Pink Brick Award. Four years later, however, Feinstein starred in television commercials urging voters to oppose Proposition 8, the ban against same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot and said she supported marriage equality.
In 2007 she upset LGBT advocates for being the tie vote to send a conservative judicial candidate, who ruled against a mother's custody rights because she is lesbian, on to the full Senate. Last year Feinstein won praise when she stepped in to block the deportation of a lesbian mother from Pacifica.