Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

The New Kid 

Despite crossing party leadership during the campaign, new state Senator gets plum posts.

Wednesday, Jan 21 2009
Comments

Political etiquette in the state capitol dictates that you don't take on an incumbent in your own party. Even if said incumbent re-enacts scenes from Mad Max on the freeway; treats her employees in a manner even Naomi Campbell would decry as brutal; and, in general, makes enemies at a Bernie Madoff–like pace, you do not run against her. In the name of party unity, whoever works in Sacramento stays in Sacramento.

So when then-Assemblyman Mark Leno set his sights on state Senator Carole Migden last year, it didn't make him a popular man with the movers and shakers within the Democratic Party. Former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata insisted that other senators' staffers campaign for Migden on their own time. " This is not an optional activity," is how his letters put it. Also, Leno's bills in the Assembly — even uncontested ones that would shower our financially emaciated city with cash — suspiciously found themselves floating in limbo thanks to Perata.

Now that Leno is Senator Leno, you might expect the cold shoulder to continue. But that isn't happening. In fact, it's the opposite. Leno was recently named chairman of the state Senate's committee on public safety and health and human services budgets by current President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg — a notable accomplishment for a rookie senator.

"That's very good, actually," said Professor Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at Sacramento State University. "That means Darrell Steinberg trusts [Leno] enough to put him there. He could not do that with all the freshmen coming in, and most of them do not get chairmanships."

Why is this happening? A movie analogy may be in order. When Dorothy Gale crashed her house on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, she didn't endear herself to the Wicked Witch of the West. But the Munchkins — they were stoked.

"Had it been someone other than Carole, Mark would have been punished," said a Sacramento political insider, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If he had challenged another member who hadn't had so many altercations with leadership, Mark wouldn't receive such favorable treatment."

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival
    Crowds gathered September 6-7 for the 24th Annual Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown. Visitors enjoyed arts, crafts, cultural exhibits, food and a dog fashion show. Photographs by Dhoryan Rizo.
  • Felton: Touring the Redwoods
    Blue skies meet redwood canopies in the mountain town of Felton, located just north of Santa Cruz on Highway 9. Once a bustling logging community, the town is now a mix of mellow locals and serene wilderness. Visitors can enjoy the redwoods in nearby Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and splash in swimming holes in the San Lorenzo River. For a bite to eat stop by Rocky’s Cafe for fruit-laden pancakes, barbeque at the Cowboy Bar & Grill and poolside burgers at the Trout Farm Inn. Other stops worth checking out include Roaring Camp Railroads, the Mount Hermon zip line tour, and the educational Bigfoot Discovery Museum. For beer or cocktails a log cabin bar has you covered.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed