In the enormously crowded race for San Francisco mayor is a bevy of firsts (the first Latino mayor is just one example). And the city's wildly diverse LGBT community is, say political wags, divided between a too-large roster of declared candidates (The New York Times says the liberal city has somewhere between nine and 37 declared candidates for mayor; the San Francisco Chronicle puts the pool at 16). There may even be a Republican in that docket, though Republicans only make up about 9% of the city's voters, according to the Times.
LGBT votes have eyes on two candidates especially: City attorney Dennis Herrera, a straight guy who has been a champion for same-sex marriage rights in the last decade, and Bevan Dufty, a former member of the city's board of supervisors. Dufty would become the city's first openly gay mayor -- an accomplishment LGBT activists there have been pushing for since the heyday of the late Harvey Milk. Dufty told the Times he's banking on support of the city's enormous LGBT community.
"Gay people will vote in San Francisco," he said. "Whether there's a typhoon or tidal wave, they will vote." Dufty will need that support after the incumbent, Mayor Ed Lee, reluctantly declared his intent to run. Lee was appointed to the mayor's office by the board of supervisors after Gavin Newsom was elected to state office. Many say he was pressured by Asian-American groups -- a large force in San Francisco -- to throw his hat in the ring in order to continue on as the first Asian-American mayor, a post he may not have wanted to begin with.
With Lee as the current front-runner, Asian-American LGBT folks have found themselves torn between two communities in the fight for mayor. "As a queer I totally want to support Dufty," says Danielle Lim, a San Francisco artist. "But as an Asian-America woman I kind of feel like I'm letting my family down if I don't vote for [an Asian-American] candidate."
Meanwhile, Dufty has left the nasty politicking to his opponents, who have run attack ads on Lee in recent weeks. Dufty's latest ad does take a gentle swipe at Lee (whose slogan is "Ed Lee Gets it Done") by saying in the voice-over, "I'm running for mayor because it's not enough to just get it done. We have to get it done better."
The ad will be remember even more for its first: featuring Dufty's daughter Sidney, who twirls and dreams as the two ride Muni (the city's light rail system), the ad is the first time an openly LGBT candidate has used his child in a campaign ad on network or cable television. For that Sydney and Bevin Dufty are earning praise. Now, he hopes, votes will follow.