Monday, January 05, 2015

The campaign for sheriff begins

Ron Conway

Heather Knight in yesterday's Chronicle:

November will also mark the first year of consolidated city and county elections, meaning the mayor, city attorney, district attorney, treasurer and sheriff will all appear on the ballot. So far, nobody's challenging those first four---for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, it's another story. After weathering a domestic violence scandal shortly after his election in 2011, Mirkarimi already has a challenger in Vicki Hennessy who filled in as interim sheriff while Mirkarimi was suspended. Considering the big bucks that tech investor and mayoral pal Ron Conway is expected to spend to defeat progressive Mirkarimi and the bitter taste the sheriff's behavior during the scandal left in many voters' mouths, it's hard to see how he wins re-election. "The sheriff is like Sean Penn in that movie---he's a dead man walking," said Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard. "He stands virtually no chance of being re-elected."

Well, maybe. It's not easy to judge whether enough city voters are still---or ever were---very upset about the mostly trumped-up domestic violence charges against Mirkarimi.

Conway helped elect Mayor Lee and, more recently, helped elect David Chiu to the State Assembly by defaming David Campos as soft on domestic violence because of his vote allowing Mirkarimi to remain sheriff. That's a campaign that really has left a "bitter taste" for many city voters that could trump opposition to Mirkarimi, who has turned out be a good sheriff.

Recall that, if not for Conway's money and meddling in the 2011 campaign for sheriff, Mirkarimi wouldn't have been elected in the first place. City voters will have to decide in November whether they want to continue validating Ron Conway's ongoing attempt to buy elections in San Francisco. A possible slogan: "Vote for Mirkarimi, not Ron Conway."

The Chronicle's in-house conservative, Debra Saunders, was good on the Mirkarimi issue from the start, just like she's been good on the Bay Bridge, high-speed rail and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Sometimes it takes a Republican to speak truth to power in our one-party city. (The Chronicle was otherwise terrible on the issue, leading the media lynch mob.)

In a front-page story for the Chronicle's Insight section yesterday, Saunders essentially verifies her earlier columns on City Hall's attempt to destroy Mirkarimi. Turns out that, thanks to City Hall, the Mirkarimi/Lopez marriage is apparently stronger than ever.

Of course, Mirkarimi believes that the prosecution was political. Mayor Ed Lee piled on. Mirkarimi already had pleaded guilty. But that wasn’t enough for Lee who larded an official misconduct complaint before the Ethics Commission with allegations that the sheriff tried to stifle witnesses and Lopez. That drove up the cost of the investigation to the city attorney’s office. The tab reached nearly $1.3 million. Figure this was the most expensive family counseling intervention in San Francisco history. I am glad Mirkarimi is a better family man, but I still say it was wrong for District Attorney George Gascón to charge Mirkarimi with three criminal counts for bruising his wife’s arm. In an orgy of political correctness, Lee went too far and spent way too much. And I think the courts were wrong to split up the family against the parents’ will. “A person charged with murder gets to see his wife,” former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Brown exclaimed at the time. Dan White, the guy who killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978, “had conjugal visits.”

District Attorney Gascon was also awful on the issue, as was the Board of Supervisors.

Photo Peter Kiehart

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