The shell game of police-union endorsements

The fallacy of police-union endorsements is they go to the farthest-right candidate, because those are the candidates most willing/likely to do the union’s bidding. No doubt, Republicans couldn’t be more willing to partner with law enforcement. This could tempt a person into believing the opposing Democrat would be open to reining in police and police-union power and influence, but this is so very rarely the case.

Last year in the San Francisco Board of Supervisors D3 race pitted City Hall-backed incumbent Julie Christensen against previous D3 Supervisor and eventual winner Aaron Peskin. Christensen was an open rubber stamp for City Hall, so she was expected to receive the police-union endorsement that very quickly came her way. Peskin, a long-time darling of San Francisco’s “progressives,” presented himself as her antithesis in every way. A last-month surge of police-union funding to Christensen’s campaign as polls tightened made them look desperate for her to win. Certainly Peskin’s progressive ideals would demand he stand up to the union as supervisor, if their enthusiastic support of his opponent didn’t convince him first.

Not so much, as it turned out. Red flags had already been waving around Peskin like semaphore. His candidacy would never have been viable without Rose Pak, who was backing Peskin solely as revenge for Ed Lee choosing Christensen as interim D3 supervisor over Cindy Wu. Pak’s loyalty to SFPD was unwavering, especially towards Greg Suhr, around whom Pak always beamed with pride and joy. I repeatedly asked Peskin’s canvassers about his commitment to Black Lives Matter and ending police terror; they always patronizingly answered, “Of course! He’s a progressive! Naturally he supports that.” I had similar interactions with his campaign volunteers online, and they assured me he had the deepest commitment to stopping police violence.

Fast forward several months to the Frisco 5 hunger strike and demands to fire then-Chief Suhr. Peskin essentially ran and hid in a corner. Granted, the actions of his fellow “progressives” were little better, but Peskin was shut down for the entirety of it. No way Rose Pak was allowing Peskin to utter the first syllable against Suhr. So despite all the money and support the police-union gave to Peskin’s opponent Christensen, the progressive hero vanished from the debate surrounding one of the highest-profile police-chief resignations in years. Their endorsement of Christensen didn’t matter; in the end, both candidates had been theirs all along. Joke was on us.

David Campos didn’t run and hide in a corner, but he really should’ve considered it. While Peskin was under Rose’s gag order, his fellow progressive titan Campos condescendingly lectured the Frisco 5 hunger strikers as if they were tantruming toddlers.

Campos wasn’t as indebted to Rose Pak as Peskin, but she still held enough sway over him to make him stonewall any action against Suhr. Like Peskin, Campos was a progressive darling who wasn’t about to receive any police-union endorsements, but there he was, scolding hunger strikers while literally backed by law enforcement. Since then, Campos has been more than willing to look the other way on police violence against homeless people in D9 and ensures they’re allowed to handle quality-of-life issues their way. That’s amazingly deep in the police-union pockets for an elected official who the police union all but shuns openly.

And right on time this year, the national POA loudly endorsed Trump, despite the fact Hillary has promised them $1 billion on Day One, in addition to promised boosts to surveillance capabilities and promising swift and final vengeance on anyone convicted to killing a cop. So yeah, police-union endorsements are nice ways to filling up flier space during campaigns, but don’t be fooled. Either way the police union gets its candidate.

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