Matt Dorsey, left, and Honey Mahogany

Multiple sources close to the process on Sunday told Mission Local that Mayor London Breed will today name SFPD Director of Strategic Communications Matt Dorsey as the next District 6 supervisor, replacing Matt Haney. 

Let the record show that Dorsey, the former longtime spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, is an extremely smart and competent man, is a savvy political operator with longstanding relationships in this city, and possesses a deep knowledge of the dark arts of San Francisco politics. He is someone ready for a street fight, certainly on the moderate-friendly streets of the newly formed, Tenderloin-free District 6. 

But, make no mistake: Tapping the cops’ spokesman for political office, a career communications pro and political operative, who also recently served as a lobbyist for a firm representing tech and business titans, is a hell of a thing. 

That’s a hell of a resume for the supe representing D6, which still has its fair share of struggling tenants and abject poverty, even with the TL now grafted onto District 5. 

So, it would seem public safety is likely to be Issue No. 1 here, with the hope that voters will be enthused that the former chief strategist for the cops will know who in the department to call to get police on the scene to crack down on crime and lawlessness in the streets. 

Dorsey is also a recovering addict of drugs and alcohol, which is highly germane in District 6. Today’s 12:15 p.m. announcement of his appointment is, not coincidentally, to be held at Delancey Street.

With this move, the mayor has triggered what figures to be a political brawl in SoMa. One with no small amount of risk for yet another precariously placed Breed appointee. And, frankly, for Breed, too, on the eve of her own re-election bid. 

Matt Dorsey supports the 2011 mayoral campaign of his then-boss, Dennis Herrera.

Breed’s pick, Dorsey, will, in November, be running against Haney’s preferred successor, his former chief of staff Honey Mahogany. She will, barring unforeseen lunacy, announce her candidacy in relatively short order. Yes, other candidates could jump in and complicate matters. But this has the makings of a proxy battle between the mayor and Haney in a district Haney just carried, overwhelmingly, in his crushing Assembly win. 

“If the mayor chooses somebody and that person loses, why would you want to create a referendum on yourself right before running for re-election?” ponders a longtime city political operative. “Having a mini-campaign and making this into a proxy race about you? That is high-risk. If you had a choice, right now, to have London Breed show up to campaign for you or Matt Haney, who would you pick?” 

The voters, rather recently, have certainly given Haney a resounding thumbs-up. And, according to polling I’ve seen coming out of that race, Haney is far more favorably received in this neck of the woods than the mayor. Our newly ensconced assemblyman has (token) races to run in both June and November. So, unlike many city figures who decamp to Sacramento and disappear into the scenery, Haney will remain a presence in San Francisco. He’ll be spending money here. It is conceivable he’ll be spending more money than the supe candidates will spend, and he has already made it clear he will put his former chief of staff by his side and campaign hard for her. 

Mahogany will also have the full backing of labor, which was the understated but key factor in Haney’s trouncing of David Campos in last month’s Assembly race. It is also likely (though not yet certain) that Mahogany will have the same personnel operating her ground game that propelled Haney to runaway wins in D6 in 2018 and in Assembly District 17 earlier this year.

Erstwhile AD-17 candidate Bilal Mahmood supported Haney after coming third in February’s primary. He, too, was passed over for the vacant District 6 seat. It remains to be seen where The YIMBY favorite Mahmood will come down regarding the November contest. It’s hardly inconceivable he and Haney could be allies here, too. 

Unless Mahmood runs for the post, too. You never know.

Dorsey is openly gay and HIV-positive. A generation ago, this would be somewhat revelatory. But San Francisco voters, particularly relatively young San Francisco voters, do not seem to give all that much deference to white, male, gay and/or HIV-positive candidates, even candidates who faced terrible discrimination in their lifetimes and suffered horrible personal losses during the AIDS crisis. Just ask Mark Leno. Or, for that matter, Jeff Sheehy

Mahogany, on the other hand, is both Black and trans. That would be a truly unique background for a potential elected official in this, and perhaps any, city. The loss of the Tenderloin denies her potential progressive-leaning tenant voters — and even the prior, more ostensibly lefty iteration of District 6 had no trouble electing white, male supervisors. But experienced neighborhood political hands told me that the TL still harbors a level of transphobia you won’t likely find among the dwellers of million-dollar condos. Separate and apart from Mahogany’s abilities and C.V., a pioneering candidate could appeal to a wide range of voters. 

Much remains to be determined. But this isn’t in doubt: It’s going to be a heavily contested race. It’s going to be a bruising, hard-fought contest. And that was the mayor’s choice. It didn’t have to be.

The final Supervisorial district boundaries, approved April 28.

Now, nobody is saying Honey Mahogany deserves to be handed the District 6 crown like some municipal William of Orange. 

And she won’t be. If Mahogany is going to be supervisor, she’s going to have to run for it and earn it. But there is plenty of political logic behind London Breed avoiding a knock-down, drag-out fight with the one candidate who has made it damn clear she’s running, who has the stalwart backing of labor, who is the preferred successor of the popular and influential outgoing incumbent, and with whom she probably agrees with on 85 percent of the issues. 

The mayor could’ve ostensibly had both Mahogany and Haney with her, moving in (roughly) the same direction. Instead, she’s now neatly cauterized the wounds of the city’s hard left, which were opened up in Haney’s battle with Campos. The city officials who apparently went to the Ja Morant school of Twitter to berate Haney after his blowout win could now join arms with him. 

Also, rather than have the entire LGBTQ community united behind the appointment of Mahogany, a Dorsey-Mahogany race will spark a damaging LGBTQ civil war. 

You don’t have to search far for examples of a mayor who inherited the wind after shoe-horning in a preferred appointee and snubbing an ambitious but less-preferred candidate who had unimpeachable community ties. In 2012, Mayor Ed Lee passed over Breed herself to anoint Christina Olague District 5 supervisor, only to watch Breed run for it and earn it

Three years later, Lee chose Julie Christensen to be District 3 supe instead of picking Rose Pak’s preferred candidate Cindy Wu, which goaded Aaron Peskin back into public life.  

We will never know what would’ve happened if Leno had listened to his backers’ pleas and took on Lee in 2015. But if Breed has yet another appointee to elected office crash and burn, even political allies may take notice, and weigh their options. This is the sort of thing that emits a whiff of political vulnerability. 

It could’ve been easy. But it’s going to be hard. That was a choice. 

A mayor can put a supervisor into office. But it’s constituents who keep them there. That’s not a choice. 

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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55 Comments

    1. Not a word is mentioned about Mahogany’s politics.

      Haney voted for that atrocious State of Emergency in the Tenderloin, wants hideous Fourplexes for millionaires on every corner, voted to keep the Ferris Wheel for the benefit of Parks Alliance, supported park privatization, including the privatization of the government-run Tea Garden and 50% price hikes on weekends and whenever.

      Then there is the closure of JFK (which is almost always nearly empty), the entry charge to Treasure Island (and the attempted one to Lombard Street), downtown (neoliberal) congestion pricing, Slow Streets which are generally empty….

      His good votes have been what?

      He stands for nothing but the interests of the elites.

      Mahogany stands for what other than being a great self promoter with zero vision?

  1. I’ve met both of them in professional settings, and let’s just say Dorsey is far more competent, focused, and polished than Mahogany. The resumes reflect that. A debate between the two would be a trouncing.

    Mahogany is the status quo, Dorsey will be something different. Hopefully, more orders and action, versus a lot of talk.

    Haneys numbers in the last election don’t reflect his popularity, it reflects how unpopular Campos is.

    1. Honey Mahogany, a Black trans woman is the status quo? As opposed to the coppaganda white man the mayor just appointed?? Are you serious?

      God, i hate this city more and more with each passing day.

      1. This is probably not what BigFrisco meant, but when I think of Honey getting appointed/elected as a Sup, I also think SF status Quo – in that it is another person in a city leadership position because of ideology vs experience and capability. Every praise of Honey states the Black and trans aspect appealing to voters. I have yet to read why Mahogany is actually qualified for the position. I have seen Honey in public meetings numerous times and have yet to hear new or forceful ideas, just more of the same lip service with little action.

        Is Dorsey any better? not really IMHO, but that doesn’t make Honey any more qualified.

        1. Yeah, the problem becomes that “Honey” is more focused on her identity than on her ideas. And even in SF, which tolerates that BS more than most places, that ultimately dooms you, as it should.

      2. Honey Mahogany, like Haney and Campos, has no discernible politics. Haney ran and won not running on his identity. Campos lost running on his. Honey Mahogany represents the status quo of marking time, ensuring your friends get paid. Dorsey’s a comms guy and will be setting the agenda. “Proglodytes” don’t know what’s hit them and they have no clue as to what’s coming.

      1. @Perennial Pete I literally post here, under this name, all the time. I am in no way shape or form associated with any government office or official. I am just a resident of San Francisco, who votes.

    2. Will Big Frisco please tell us why he/she/they think Honey is not “polished”??

      I wonder how many people would know Dorsey & Honey from “professional settings” AND take the time to attempt to reframe that the paid press guy for Herrera is the one with a substantive resume….

      1. @Franklin Kelly I’ve been in meetings with her about important constituent issues in the former District 6 area of the Tenderloin and she would slouch in her chair, look at her phone, and couldn’t wait for the meeting to be over. This wasn’t some unimportant issue to her, or the people living in her district, this was something that is discussed regularly in the press. When concluding these meetings, she would ask completely unrelated questions to what was being discussed or ask questions about topics we covered in details and were already answered. When we would follow up with her on items she said she would get back to us on, she wouldn’t respond. Perhaps polished is a loaded term. I probably should have used professional.

    3. Have you been to ANY community meetings in D6? You know who’s shown up and supported residents here? Honey Mahogany has. If that is status quo I’ll take it.

      1. Dorsey shows up to stuff – once he’s paid. Look at his own website & his client list. From winning Mike Dukakis to blocking Joe Manchin to – hold your breath – the Russian government. Not sure why his incredible competence is referenced & not illustrated anywhere.

        https://www.mattdorsey.org/#Clients

      2. @FTPOA Yes, unfortunately, I have been to many. That being said, I’ve only attended meetings where Haney did most of the talking. I can’t speak to Honey’s abilities in that particular forum.

  2. I am bummed she didn’t appoint Honey for several reasons but I don’t think identity politics will factor into this race at all. It will be all about public safety and clean streets and bringing back downtown. Bread and butter. I believe Haneys win was as much a rejection of Campos as it was an endorsement of Matt.
    This will be referendum on the Mayor and the Board of Supes. Might as well fight it now.

    1. You’re exactly right. I don’t think Joe, and most of the establishment media understands this, but it’s not about who the person is, it’s about what they’ll do. We are positively done with identity politics. I don’t care if someone is part crustacean; if they listen to the residents and actually clean up the streets, then they will be elected. Dorsey seems to be the correct person to do this.
      I’m having a hard time understanding why they’re not seeing this, after two landslide elections.

  3. This another sign that Breed is planning to run a standard law and order campaign for re-election. Given she has as no record other than petty corruption and incompetence, this is not surprising. The recall vote in June will play a big role, which is why the Cartel is behind it. Not good for the future of police reform or any aspect of the city with more power flowing to the POA.

  4. I don’t generally contribute to political campaigns, but if London Breed appoints a cop propagandist to replace Matt Haney, I will give $500 to anyone who challenges her from the left.

  5. Nice and informative piece, Joe. I had to spend some time on the internet with William of Orange. It might be good to remind us all of Mayor Breed’s past appointees in these situations i.e. prematurely vacated elected offices. I would love to see analysis of who she will tap if the DA is recalled. I feel strongly that we the voters should have some idea of who that is before we decide to depose (you can fill in the historical reference here) the person who won the actual election against all opponents. If the recallers win, are we going to end up with Loftus, the mayor’s preffered candidate in the election?

  6. I feel sure that she is lovely but there is quite simply no way I could mark a cross against a name like Honey Mahogany. Does everything have to be a joke in this city?

  7. There will be no “lgbtq civil” war because, gay or straight, no one wants a corrupted city official – and this guy was a shill for Herrera — another shill. You’re right on one thing: his bio isn’t thrilling, just like his career. But he’s useful for the mayor for a couple reasons: 1) he’s city family and 2) unlike Haney, will ax any and all public corruption efforts & stop the call for a real community benefits audit.

    The only gay votes Dorsey gets are Herrera’s staff people who also live in the New D6, so no one. Go Honey!

  8. Dorsey is incredibly competent and detailed in his ideas. Having spoke with Honey and listened to her views I would say she not an appropriate person for the position. Her positions and “solutions” amount to empty slogans with no details. She has best of intentions but is not the innovative problem solver we need during these trying times. In this sense is what I believe Bigfrisco is referring to status quo SF “progressive” candidates.

    1. Now now, Brandon…let’s go…give us one detailed idea Dorsey has to clean up SOMA (like 6th street) or clean up Treasure Island from its radioactive past. Just one detailed idea on each.

      How many times has Dorsey been to Treasure Island? How many times has he met with the folks who live there? If he’s “incredibly competent” – surely you’ll have a zinger of a reply. Looking forward to it!

      1. Treasure Island, right… Dorsey is inheriting quite a mess that Haney and the SFCTA made of the TI mobility plan. Apparently they re-negotiated with the TI developers a few years back, and stuck the City&County with having to bankroll that commuter ferry to the Embarcadero. So far they tried to make bank with a toll on vehicles entering and leaving the islands during rush hour. That though is not only a political hot potato, it’s illegal too. Now you may ask: Why sell out to the developers like that? Well, follow the money, it leads back to the Pelosi’s&friends. It’ll be interesting to see how Dorsey’s going to navigate that minefield.

    1. Ed — 

      It was when Joaquín Andújar said it, that’s for sure.

      JE

  9. Breed pretty much se up the law and order question for D-6. We will soon see how how that will plays into her homeless projects. If she is smart she will start spending some of the funds the supervisors have voted to spend on the housing she claims to clamor for. Otherwise it is hard to see how the public will continue to put up with much more.

    1. I suspect the voters care a lot more about being safe on the streets than they do about building a few subsidized homes for the tiny majority who will win the lottery for them.

  10. This is putting far more importance on a single supervisor’s race than it deserves.

    London Breed is likely going to run very well in the western half of the city, and lose in the Tenderloin, regardless of what happens in this race. People who don’t pay attention to lower-level city politics like this will wake up when the mayor’s office is on the line. Ed Lee made appointments that didn’t pan out, and he was re-elected.

  11. “But this has the makings of a proxy battle between the mayor and Haney in a district Haney just carried, overwhelmingly, in his crushing Assembly win.”

    Haney won every single neighborhood in AD17. Every single one; so the new D6 is hardly anything special in this regard.

    The primary reason for this victory was the fact that Campos was his opponent. Campos’ ideas were lame and reactionary; he is an anti-housing NIMBY and he comes across as unlikable.

    The second most important reason is that Bilal Mahmood’s 100% pro-housing — (for all intensive purposes single issue) constituency (aka, the YIMBYs) voted, en masse, for Haney — who, as a savvy politician, suddenly and opportunistically declared himself pro-housing in order to create the necessary differentiator between him and Campos and garner this significant cohort — which in the primary was over 20% of the voters . No a single pro-housing voter went for Campos. It’s as simple as that folks.

    Lastly, D6 is the most pro-housing district in the City. Now that it is unburdened by the notorious anti-housing Tenderloin (thx to the machinations of TNDC, in cahoots with THC — shame on Randy Shaw, btw), you can expect it to go for a pro-housing candidate, like Matt Dorsey.

    Honey Mahogany’s constituency was the Tenderloin. In D6, all the new residents (and there are a lot of them) are going to go for Dorsey; especially — once Boudin’s out of the way come June 7th — with the obviously backing of the Mayor, if he can get the police and a new, mayor-appointed DA, to address the runaway crime issues in the District.

    Smart choice by Breed — Game on.

    1. For all intents and purposes is a phrase meaning “essentially” or “in effect.” It is often mistaken as “for all intensive purposes.”

      You spend so much time trying to prove you’re on top of everything, just thought I’d let you know this is the least significant of your false blatherings.

  12. Is there any evidence that identity plays at the polls? Chinese and to a lesser extent Latino surnames show some IRV vote transfer.

    Abstruse, internecine queer identity feuds are a parlor game.

    1. Gay former addict versus a black trans with a stripper name. Very San Francisco.

      Basically agree, identity politics doesn’t matter here unless you are a straight white male, then you are the problem apparently.

  13. Hey marcos,

    You in 6 or 9 ?

    I’m claiming two new words for our local vocabulary.

    De Dawg …

    ‘Delection’ … instead of ‘Recall’ (takeoff from ‘Decarceration’)

    and

    ‘Resegregation Task Force’ … instead of ‘Redistricting Task Force’

    huh, huh ?

    Dig my new blog for pics of things on the ground in Clarion Alley …

    SFbulldogblog.Wordpress.com

    h.

    1. We’re still in 9. I wholly expect for Ronen to endorse Yeuketel to promote “unity.”

  14. There is a lot of not-so-hidden transphobia in the gay community, though. As a new D6 voter, the fact Dorsey was spokesperson for the SFPD doesn’t bother me. That he was notorious crook Dennis Herrera’s spokesperson does (Google “Joanne Hoeper Dennis Herrera retaliation”).

  15. The fauxgressive’s favorite tactic is to shut the conversation down, but SF voters have had enough of it. At some point the rot is just so glaringly apparent that people wake up. This idea that a whole class of people (gay men) are no longer suitable to hold office here, but some other class of people has been bestowed with an imprimatur of importance by who exactly? Young people? Says who? Says an old straight white guy. You can’t make this stuff up.

    1. Maria —

      To paraphrase the Monty Python line, I’m not old. I’m 46.

      And you can ask Mayor Leno and Supervisor Sheehy if they feel that voters gave their lived experiences any credence.

      JE

  16. Great news! Thank you Mayor Breed and congratulations Supervisor Dorsey. Finally, District 6 will have a competent, data-driven, anti-crime, pro-victim, pro-job, and pro-housing supervisor. We know the failed policies of the extremist ‘progressive’ wing – dominated by Campos, Ronen, Boudin, Preston, Mar, etc. have caused the poverty, crime, pollution, and dysfunction that characterize the problems in SoMa and throughout the City. We cannot have more anti-victim, anti-homeowner, and anti-housing policies. We need a functioning Board of Supervisors and at least now we will have a few good supervisors (in Districts 6, 2, and 11). Let’s unite to first recall the cruel, corrupt, and incompetent Boudin and then restore a moderate, functioning BOS.

  17. The policies of the extremist ‘progressives’ created the poverty and crime of District 6. We know the solutions are to follow the data-driven policies of moderate liberal reformers like Supervisor Matt Dorsey and our wonderful Mayor London Breed. Let’s recall our incompetent and pro-crime DA boudin and stand up to the omnipotent Homeless-Industrial complex and soft on crime leadership that is destroying this City.

  18. Haney only won because he fully embraced the policies of our mayor and rejected his past anti-housing, pro-crime, anti-homeowner, and anti-job positions and because Campos was much, much worse (as those of us who had Campos as our supervisor know all too well). This article fails to mention that fact. Mahogany has not come out and taken a stand against the root causes of San Francisco’s problems – Boudin, Campos, Preston, Ronen, Mar, etc. Breed’s choice of Dorsey was unambiguously the best one for District 6 residents, even if it was not the politically expedient choice. Mayor Breed chose picking a good supervisor over picking a politically popular supervisor. That was the right approach.

    1. Thanks, “Dean.”

      Haney sure is a bright politician; I’m glad he realized his “pro-crime” policies were not popular.

      This is the third comment coming from this account today with three different names (“Frank,” “Sarah”). That’s not a “crime,” but it’s not allowed here. As someone who seems to have no use for pathetic and socially unacceptable behavior, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I have no choice but to cut you off here, so as to set an example. To do otherwise would be to cheat all the honest commenters who didn’t game the system. Bye now.

      JE

  19. Quota” Honey aspiration been tarnished, if election occur. Could Honey be the candidate of choice just another, statistic fully aware. Of “LondonFrown” chosen puppets” nothing new in S.F besides Matt” bring change to district 6? Possibility still race,political affiliation,so called credentials,sex and egoism. Reason candidates are selected Matt” going to listen to residents of Tenderloin highly unlikely. Due Matt apparent Whiteness” yeah annoying Bay Area egoism “Ideal perception” why. There never resolution Matt are controlled by the Left and REITS? T L last area in S.F were, SRO and BMR is retained shall rezoned area for profits? Honey run for the state senate soon, don’t use the LGBTQ okay” so called solidarity sold. Majority of LGBTQ renters out along fair labor cruise around S.F sudden animosity towards GAYS okay!

    Forgotten Matt only associates with Scott Wiener so called “Ideal GAYNESS” whom, impartial upon. Homophobic,racism,sexist and polarized S.F” Matt shall get reelected? LGBTQ are divided by income and race myth capital of Liberalism S.F!

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