Professor DeLeon: Newsom's 2003 Homelessness Measure 'Put Him on the Map, Politically'

Thursday, February 20, 2020

KQED-FM (SAN FRANCISCO) -- A majority of progressive politicians, many without prior political experience, had swept the Board of Supervisors in 2000 — a citizen revolt to the pro-development Mayor Willie Brown, said Richard DeLeon, professor emeritus of Political Science at San Francisco State University. Newsom was seen then as somewhat of a pariah, DeLeon said, a centrist who had been hand-picked by Brown to fill a mid-term vacancy on the board in 1997.

Newsom and other city officials claimed out-of-towners were coming into San Francisco to get public assistance checks. And those that were here were likely using that money for drugs and alcohol. In one television ad for Care Not Cash, a series of disheveled men speak directly into the camera.

Voters sided with Newsom, and the measure won with 60-percent approval. It was the boost Newsom needed to launch his mayoral campaign a few months later, De Leon said.

“It put him on the map, politically,” DeLeon said. “It certainly put a spotlight on him.”