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Bill Clinton Stumps in S.F. Mayor Race

December 9, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A Green Party candidate battling to the wire in San Francisco’s mayoral race urged his volunteers to show up and vote Tuesday, while Democrats flew in former President Clinton to energize their campaign.

Despite Matt Gonzalez’s Generation X support, recent polls have shown Democrat Gavin Newsom _ who has an 8-1 campaign spending advantage _ leading by 7 to 10 percentage points, particularly among older voters who reliably turn in absentee ballots for Democrats in San Francisco.

``It will be a test of who turns out to vote,″ Gonzalez said. ``You have to give us some props for putting this thing together and bringing it to this place. ... We’ve assaulted the traditional ideas of politics.″

Both Newsom, 36, and Gonzalez, 38, are members of the city’s Board of Supervisors, where Gonzalez also serves as president. The two are competing to succeed Mayor Willie Brown, 69, who cannot run again after eight years in office.

Newsom is Brown’s chosen successor, a fact that has fueled anger among Gonzalez supporters, but has paid dividends as well _ Brown personally invited Clinton to campaign to Newsom.

If elected, Gonzalez would be the nation’s highest-ranking Green Party member. Either man would be San Francisco’s youngest mayor in over a century.

The candidates have such similar positions that both would be considered liberals in almost any city outside California. The race has hinged as much on looks and lifestyles as their approaches to homelessness and economic development.

While the former president was en route to California on a private jet owned by one of Newsom’s backers, Gonzalez was wrapping up his final day of campaigning with a ``Punks for Matt″ fund-raiser featuring former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra.

Newsom’s campaign manager, Jim Ross, said Clinton would greet campaign volunteers during a brief stop designed to motivate people working the phones and walking precincts.

``The Secret Service are walking around, the former president’s advance team is here talking to people, so there is a real electricity in the air that is created by it that is helping people get excited about the election,″ Ross said.

As of Monday morning, 68,000 of the city’s 460,000 registered voters had already cast ballots, either by mail or through an early voting program at City Hall over the weekend.

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