Two ‘moderate’ San Francisco Democrats face off in a political showdown

Of the two Assembly districts that include portions of San Francisco,
Assembly District 12 (AD 12) is the “conservative” one. The district spans
the western portion of San Francisco and parts of northern San Mateo County,
and as it zigs and zags through the middle of the city, it dodges the
Castro, Haight, and Mission districts–the heart of progressive San

This year’s race between San Francisco Supervisor Fiona Ma and political
newcomer Janet Reilly can be characterized as a race between two relatively
moderate Democrats. In a city known for producing progressive firebrands,
neither candidate has rallied the city’s progressive community in what is
expected to be one of the year’s costliest and most competitive Democratic

Ma openly supports the death penalty and said in an April debate that the
Ellis Act, the state law that allows property owners to evict renters when
selling land, “is sometimes the only way for some people to become
homeowners and I support it.”

In that same debate, Reilly, a pro-choice Catholic, quoted former first lady
Hilary Clinton on the abortion issue, saying the practice should be “safe,
legal, and rare,” a stance Clinton has used to appeal to party moderates.
But while the two qualify as moderates in San Francisco, they’re still
liberal Democrats in California.

Both candidates are pro-choice, gay-marriage supporters, who have vowed to
fully fund education and advocate for a single-payer universal health-care

And like many internecine San Francisco political battles, this race is
going to be expensive. The cost of the campaign is expected to top $2
million, as both camps have turned down voluntary spending limits. Ma
already has raised more than $1 million, and Reilly has countered with more
than $500,000. Despite the high-cost primary affair, the candidates have
agreed to agree on many of the state’s hot-button issues.

“I believe there is very little difference between Fiona and myself,” Janet
Reilly announced in her opening statement at the April 5 debate, the only
scheduled face-to-face encounter of the campaign.

And so, the campaign has turned into a multi-million dollar contest focused
on style, personality and the candidates’ r

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: