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Neighborhood Notes

Janet Reilly’s Woman Voters Problem

By Warren Hinckle

Focus on: District 2: Farrell v. Reilly

I met Janet Reilly in Tom Donoghue’s Marina Lounge, on Chestnut Street. This is one of the oldest and therefore the greatest of San Francisco neighborhood joints, places like Gino and Carlo in North Beach and The Philosopher’s Club in West Portal, bars that are the neighborhood living room where locals gather to read the paper and watch sports on TV and talk about life in the village. She is a spectacularly good-looking candidate, strong professional presence yet feminine and friendly; the leader of the pack in a stage presentation of “Little Women.”  She came with a handler in tow. He sat to her left. They were both nursing something to drink. There was no money on the bar.

I thought it would interesting, like one of those 60 Minutes interviews, to talk to a powerful professional woman about how they keep their life apart from their love partners. Janet said that didn’t happen with her, her campaign was really professional.  Clint was not involved in it. Not? What about joint meetings pushing for endorsements and money and Clint always on the phone, saying give to Janet or else, that sort of stuff.  I mean it’s the talk of the money guys downtown. Clint beating them up on her behalf

I don’t do that, never had a joint meeting with Clint about my campaign, we are excellent professionals, she said.  Never a meeting?? What about the one with Annmarie Conroy and her Husband Bart Lally?– two friends of mine. “Oh, that did happen.” she said, almost as an afterthought, “I wanted her endorsement and she gave it to me.” Well, that was not the way my friend Annmarie told it. She said that she wouldn’t endorse Janet unless she renounced the rascal Peskin and she wasn’t willing to commit. A couple of days later, as the heat of Reilly-Peskin, Reilly-Daly came on, it became known that the Reilly family is one of the biggest contributors to public power (a no-no in D.6.)  Janet sent out a press release saying she wouldn’t back her friend Peskin for interim Mayor, god forbid, if she wins and Gavin wins for Lieutenant Governor. Conroy is taking the credit for that late blooming backstab to Reilly’s friend Peskin.

I asked her how difficult it was, being a strong professional politician and accomplished woman in her own right, to be married to a speckled egg of a husband like Clint Reilly, the political power broker and used-to-be political campaign manager who is famously known in Democratic Party higher political circles for publicly firing his then- client Dianne Feinstein–who was at that time running for Governor of California–for not having, I believe his phrase was, ‘fire in her belly’ when she took a few days off the campaign trail for a gynecological procedure. Clint has done other controversial things within the state Democratic Party such as making gazillions publishing state-wide and local phony  “Democratic Party” slate cards and sometimes, to make a buck, sticking one of his candidates –who happened to be one of the Republicans in elective office in San Francisco, then San Francisco Supervisor Annmarie Conroy — without her knowledge on one of his money-making ersatz Democratic Slate Cards. Conroy lost a close when her Democratic opponents yelled “hypocrisy” for appearing on an “official” Democratic “party” piece of mail.

Then there was left unsaid Clint’s horrific campaign for Kathleen Brown for Governor which she might have won if he hadn’t screwed it up – by say spending all her money early on on highly commissionable state-wide TV ads- and then famously not returning Kathleen’s calls during the final week of the campaign.  She sued him and the result was a sealed settlement in which she apparently got some money back but all was lost with the election.

That’s two San Francisco women in politics–Republican Conroy and Democrat Brown–that Clint managed and who lost. The stable, family voter, Marina/Pacific Heights savvy Democrat families with long political memories remember that Clint as campaign manager had a bad relationship and bad result with at least two strong women, basically taking their money and screwing them over. People talk about that, other women who had gone down under bad circumstances, in the perspective that Clint his now running his wife for elective office. San Franciscans think she will find it difficult to free herself of her husband’s past… and present.

Janet’s political handler brought Dianne Feinstein and her husband’s business deal into the conversation–“This is unfair questioning, no one has asked things like that about Feinstein,” he said.  Say what??? I mentioned a few Los Angeles Times front-page articles about the Shanghai airport deal and the Orange County paper coverage about that land swap.

Janet said she was at the bus stops every day talking to voters and no one had asked her about this stuff. But they are talking about it in the parishes, I said. San Franciscans have memories like elephants.  She said nothing like that had ever been brought up about Dianne Feinstein and her husband, that she had no knowledge of anything of the kind.

I said that many voters I had talked to in the district in which she is running for Supervisor, the Marina, said almost in a sort of mantra, that they like her but they were concerned about Clint hanging over her shoulder and whispering into her ear, politically. They genuinely liked her-and she is a most likeable person, even if she is a politician-but had questions about the overbearing Clint– and the money that he, and her, had given to people like Daly and Peskin and issues like public power, which, finally, is not a winning issue in the Marina.

She and her handler left the bar. There remained no money on the plank, I asked Gary Ferrari if any money had exchanged hands.

“No,” he said, “They stuck you.”

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marie Duggan // Nov 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Dear Warren,
    Great article……….I loved every morsel…especially” no money on the bar”!!!

    Marie Duggan

  • 2 Barbara Bechelli // Nov 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Warren –

    Correcto. Memories run deep in this town. I’d been in San Francisco around 3 years when Clint shipwrecked Annmarie Conroy’s bid. It was one of the most arrogant and dismissive moves I’d ever seen..You GO, Warren!!

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