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Politics & Policy

Bernie Sanders wades into San Francisco politics, endorsing Dean Preston’s reelection bid

Side-by-side photos of two smiling men wearing glasses; one younger in a suit, the other older in a jacket.
San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston, left, has received an endorsement from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, right. | Source: The Standard

In a much-needed jolt of energy for San Francisco's Democratic progressive wing, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders handed down an endorsement on Tuesday for Supervisor Dean Preston, who is running for reelection to keep his District 5 seat and facing multiple challengers.

"Dean is part of a new generation of progressive leaders who are not only prepared to stand up to special interests, but also have the courage to address striking levels of wealth and income inequality at their core," Sanders said in a statement provided to the Standard. "We need leaders like Dean Preston in every state, at all levels of government."

Preston and Sanders are both self-described Democratic Socialists—and the senator's endorsement comes as the sitting board supervisor faces a litany of criticism from the city's moderates, who have cast him as a symbol of progressivism run amok. The former tenant rights' attorney has even caught the ire of Elon Musk, who called for Preston to be imprisoned and fired from his elected position.

“I’m deeply honored to have Senator Sanders’ support as we continue our longstanding battle to ensure that the government serves the interests of everyday working people, not just the rich and powerful,” said Preston in a statement. Sanders' endorsement was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Preston is facing a challenge from Bilal Mahmood, a well-funded entrepreneur who recently secured a seat on the Democratic County Central Committee. On Monday, school board recall activist Autumn Looijen launched her own campaign for the supervisor seat. Prison reform activist Allen Jones is also running. The district covers the Western Addition, Tenderloin, Japantown, Hayes Valley and Haight Ashbury neighborhoods.

"I think it's interesting to see [Sanders] weighing in this early," said Daniel Anderson, a consultant for the progressive Labor and Working Families Slate. "I think it signals this is an important race. There’s a lot at stake here—it's a real clash of powers."

Last week, progressives were handed a bruising set of defeats after moderates dominated the race for Democratic County Central Committee and voters passed several tough-on-crime propositions placed on the ballot by Mayor London Breed.

Sanders has also handed endorsements to other politicos in California, including Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, along with Assemblymembers Alex Lee and Ash Kalra.