The term "San Francisco Democrats" used to be used to describe fringy left-wingers. Now they are some of the most influential people in U.S. politics.
First, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and now potential Joe Biden running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who might ascend to the footstep of the presidency.
"The leap from Bay Area to statewide now is much different than it was 30 years ago, because California has changed," Democratic strategist Rose Kapolczynski told Politico. "It's become so reliably Democratic in statewide races that your progressive credentials are a benefit, not a drawback."
Harris has reportedly cleared her public schedule next week as we await Biden's vice presidential pick one week before the Democratic National Convention.
"She's leaping over all the barriers that are usually in the way of a liberal Californian running for president," Kapolczynski added to Politico. "She won't have to defend her progressive record because Biden's agenda will be the subject of debate, not the Harris agenda. Vice presidential nominees are subject to scrutiny of course, but fundamentally it's not their agenda and their record that's the subject of debate, so it's a perfect pathway."
San Francisco is to progressives what Boston has been to the Kennedys, and both have grown into two of the wealthiest areas in America because of technology and innovation.
Democrats from wealthy areas – where the spread from rich to poor are arguably most pronounced – have prospered and gained political clout.
"I think what a lot of people overlook about California is that we are a microcosm of the nation. We have rural areas, we have Trump areas, we have urban, tons of suburban areas,” former executive director of the California Democratic Party Shawnda Westly told Politico. "Even though she's from San Francisco, she was able to put together a statewide campaign where she took 23 of 25 Trump counties. That says something as to who she is and what she's capable of."
Harris began as a San Francisco district attorney, before becoming a California attorney general and then a U.S. senator. She has managed to do that as the label "San Francisco Democrat" has unwound its onetime pejorative meaning that was held during the last Californian presidency: Ronald Reagan.
And it comes as even a Republican President Donald Trump does not oppose gay marriage, works to get out of "endless wars," reforms the criminal justice system, and permits recreational marijuana in a number of states. The U.S. has moved more and more San Francisco's way.
"From a political standpoint, there's a reason so many successful statewide elected officials have come out of the Bay Area, and that's because Bay Area politics is a contact sport," Harris aide Brian Brokaw told Politico. "San Francisco is not California. Most of the population is Democratic and the fights are between the progressives and the 'moderates,' and I say that in quotes. The battles are mostly civil wars, but you have to be able to navigate that sort of dynamic."
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