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For the Historical Record

Concession Speech - San Francisco Mayor’s Race

By Matt Gonzalez

December 9, 2003

Thank you very much. [crowd noise, applause] Thank you very much. You’ve been a great group of people to be in a campaign with. [crowd chanting “Whose city? Our city!”] Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been a great campaign. It really has been.

I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Supervisor Newsom, who was elected Mayor of San Francisco tonight. [crowd begins “booing”] No, no. Cut it out, cut it out. You know, we live in a democracy and people get to vote. They vote for the society that they want. And Supervisor Newsom won that contest tonight. And let me just say [crowd booing] No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Listen, let’s be good sports about this. [applause]

I have been trying to articulate during this race that a campaign like this is really bigger than one person. There’s a certain inevitability to what it is that we are trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter whether or not we win one particular race in this city. It really matters whether or not we can regroup, and whether or not we come back. And whether or not when Mayor Newsom is wrong, we’re there to oppose him. [applause] But I want to emphasize the opposite as well. When Mayor Newsom is right, we have to get behind him and support him. Because there are a lot of issues in this city that really need our attention and cooperation. [applause]

I think that it’s sort of natural at the end of a campaign, when you don’t win, to look at the things that you did wrong or the things that might have turned a little differently. But I want to tell you that this has been a hell of a campaign. [applause] The people in this campaign have been fantastic. It’s been my pleasure, really. You know, if I could have spent four months getting such little sleep, I can’t think of any group of people I would have rather of done it with. [applause]

In a lot of ways this race was cast as a Green vs. Democrat contest. And there is a lot of truth to that division. But I also want to emphasize this: This is a city with 3% Greens and look what we went and did. [applause] We had 47 or 48% of the electorate voting for a Green candidate. [applause] And I think what this really means, that the Democratic Party and other parties have to acknowledge that people voted for a candidate outside of their party because that candidate represented the values of democracy. [applause] That’s really what we’ve accomplished here.

I also want to pay my respects to the many elected officials who are Democrats who were willing to cross that line, and who will likely suffer for it. [applause] You’ve heard from them tonight and they’re righteous people, they’re glad to be here, they’re proud to be here. But you know what? We’ve got to take care of them, because they had the courage to step forward and to do the right thing. [applause] And they’re now going to get targeted for that and we have to be there to support them. [applause]

I want to also say that unlike any other campaign that has happened in this city certainly during my adult life, while I’ve been watching — you know, there is a tendency as the candidates run, that the candidates start trying to water down what it is that they represent so that they can try and win more voters that way. And let me just say that I am really proud of having run a progressive campaign. From the outset I was saying that this is a progressive city. [applause] This city really represents the most American of American values. [applause] There are folks in other parts of the United States, and they want to think that what’s going on here is unusual. Well, it might take 5 or 10 years but we’re going to catch up with them. [applause] What I tried to do here, what you helped me to do, what we did together, was that we essentially said, let’s break out of the traditional sense of watering down our opinions and instead let’s go out and persuade people that we’re right. [applause]

A political contest ultimately gets decided by who turns out to the polls. Let me tell you, we had enough supporters to win this election. We didn’t win it, but we didn’t lose it either. [applause]

I look forward to working on the next progressive campaign in this city. We’ve got some campaigns that will be coming up in November. They tend to be races that don’t get a lot of attention: School Board, Community College Board races, some of the Supervisor races. The only way that the context can be created to have a mayoral victory like the one we tried to accomplish today, is if we fight those battles and win some of those seats. That’s what we have to do. [applause]

[audience member shouts “Matt for President!” Matt replies “I’m already the President.” more applause]

There have been some great folks in this campaign doing tremendous stuff. It’s just been amazing. I’m not going to name names because there are so many people. Just to be in this space and the energy we got working together has been phenomenal. It really speaks to the inevitability that I was speaking about earlier.

Let me close by saying again, I really do want to congratulate Supervisor Newsom. He is a colleague of mine on the Board of Supervisors. [booing and applause] Really, if there’s anybody that can’t handle this, then they should just leave. The man won this election.

Part of what it is to run against someone and to challenge them is to try and educate them. [applause] I hope that he has learned something from us. And like I said before, I hope we will be able to work together. And if we have to be on opposite ends of fights, well then, certainly that’s where we’ll be. [applause]

Thank you so much. You’re all very beautiful. Thank you.