E-Mail Forum
Anderson Campaign Plays Fast And Loose With Endorsements
November 3, 2001
Endorsements are at the heart of the Irma Anderson mayoral campaign. What the average citizen does not know about endorsements is that at the politician level, it is largely a swap meet. Ambitious public office holders begin years ahead of time trading endorsements with other ambitious politicians. When the campaign heats up, old debts are collected and displayed like trophies allegedly attesting to the candidate's competence or popularity.

The Anderson campaign is no different. I know from personal experience. On the Richmond City Council, the position of vice-mayor is traditionally rotated among councilmembers, with the most senior who has not previously held the position being routinely elected. When my turn came around at the end of 2000, before I had decided to run for mayor, I asked Anderson for her support, reminding her that I had voted for her when her time came up.

"Will you endorse me for mayor?" she responded. When I replied that I had not made up my mind whom I would support for mayor, if anyone, she told me that she would not vote for me as vice-mayor. When I reminded her that I had extorted no such commitment from her when she was elected vice-mayor, she said that she plays by different rules.

At the citizen level, the prevailing wisdom is that endorsements should be in writing, just in case endorsers have second thoughts or a dispute arrives about previous commitments. The endorsement-hungry Anderson campaign apparently found that formality too constraining and simply made up endorsements where they would appear to be helpful. See the article below from yesterdays' West County Ties describing two such endorsements:

Published Friday, November 2, 2001
2 listed on flier endorse others
Richmond mayoral candidate named people on her mailers who aren't campaigning for her

By Peter Felsenfeld

RICHMOND -- A recent election mailer issued by mayoral candidate Irma Anderson lists endorsements from two people actively campaigning for other candidates.

Former Richmond Mayor George Livingston, who is supporting Nat Bates, and Michael Ali, who is volunteering for Tom Butt and directing City Council candidate Corky Boozé's campaign, said they never supported Anderson and resent having their names appear on the flier.

Anderson said both men offered their endorsements early in the campaign and her biggest mistake was not getting their commitments in writing.
"People come with lots of enthusiasm, and then they back off," Anderson said. "That's why the signature is so important."

Livingston's name appears in bold print along with endorsements from 39 community leaders, unions and politicians, including Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, all of whom confirmed backing Anderson.

Livingston, who is treasurer of Richmond's Black Men and Women political action committee, said he made it clear he respects Anderson but chose to go with Bates.

"They're both friends of mine," Livingston said. "But you can't drive two cars at the same time. I'm endorsing one person, and that's Bates."

Anderson, who is Livingston's neighbor, said he pledged his support more than a year ago and never told anybody he changed his mind.

Ali's name appears inside the flier along with about 180 Richmond neighborhood council members. Ali said he has worked with Anderson on common community projects but never offered his endorsement.

"I have never in any size, shape or form ever said I intended to support her," Ali said.

Anderson said Ali pledged his support and even offered to go door to door asking his neighbors to vote for her.

With $97,756 in her war chest, Anderson raised more money than any other candidate in this year's election. She enjoys strong support from unions and the West Contra Costa school board.

SEIU Local 790, which is vying for a contract to operate the city's waste water facility, features Anderson on a separate four-page flier that calls for unity while deriding Bates' recent campaign literature.

"Our city deserves better than the negative campaign tactics of Nat Bates," the flier states.

Reach Peter Felsenfeld at 510-262-2725 or pfelsenfeld@cctimes.com .