“I would, if elected, be the first Indigenous woman ever elected to the state legislature,” Fielder told them. in an interview this October. “I’d be the first woman of color to represent this district in the state Senate. But that’s unacceptable in 2020. Especially in one of the gayest towns in the country, a progressive bastion, allegedly, where people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, can come from anywhere and build a life.”
Her opponent, Scott Wiener, had formerly served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing the Castro District. A 50-year-old gay Jewish man, Wiener was targeted this year with anti-Semitic and homophobic hate speech by Trump supporters and QAnon fanatics for proposing to eliminate anti-gay discrimination in sex offender registration laws. He is a political moderate who some see as conservative when it comes to housing and poverty issues.
Fielder quickly proved herself adept at grassroots fundraising, drawing contributions from over 4,000 individual donors and surprising the political establishment. She charmed much of the city by campaigning from a colorful old school bus while laying out her progressive, inclusive agenda. Yet it still couldn’t put her over the top.
“We have so far won 127,000 of votes,” Fielder posted on social media on the night of November 3. “It’s not enough, but we worked damn hard for every single one, and we’re proud of every single one.”
“This campaign was never about just one person,” she later said in a press release conceding defeat. “This is a movement, and our movement is stronger than ever. No incumbent in Sacramento should feel safe.”
Fielder’s campaign had an electric effect on the burgeoning gains by socialists in San Francisco electoral politics: Another socialist, Dean Preston, won a term on the Board of Supervisors in this election. And it also compelled Wiener to reposition himself as a more progressive candidate as he was challenged from the left.
For the legendary San Francisco drag queen and prolific local activist Juanita MORE!, Tuesday’s results were a reminder that much work lies ahead for progressive Californians, even in a state this blue.
“I think we knew that these were going to be uphill battles,” MORE! told them. “It’s always going to be hard to elevate the voices of queer people, working people, indigenous people, people of color and poor people when massive corporations and Republicans are engaged in deceptive attacks on our democracy. We can’t take progressive values for granted in California — or even in San Francisco.”
MORE! expressed gratitude that parolees won their right to vote, and said she thinks Fielder “did an amazing service to our democracy, even if this wasn’t her time.”
“As for everything else, tomorrow we wake up and continue moving forward with our work,” she continued. “It’s never finished for me.”
Sa’id echoed her sentiments: “[This turnout] is a reminder that progress isn’t linear, and I don’t think we can ever expect it to be,” she told them.
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