Alum John Burton Exits the Political Stage

Friday, May 19, 2017
KQED NEWS/THE CALIFORNIA REPORT (SAN FRANCISCO) -- The California Democratic Party will undergo a historic transition this weekend, when its legendary chairman, John Burton, steps down after eight years as party chair. The Burtons — John and his late brother Phillip — are like political royalty in San Francisco’s Democratic Party circles. They, along with Willie Brown and later Pelosi, engineered what became known by critics as “the Burton Machine.” Willie Brown met John Burton in 1951 when both were freshmen college students at San Francisco State University. “We were in the same ROTC unit, believe it or not, probably avoiding the draft,” Brown recalled with a chuckle recently. “We were alphabetically lined up the first day. And it’s Brown, Burton. So we were almost soul brothers from day one.”