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Politics & Policy

‘Rigged.’ ‘Shocked.’ ‘Appalling.’ San Francisco Republicans sound off on Trump verdict

A man with a beard in a gray sweater is sitting at a bar counter, next to a red "Trump" hat. A bartender is preparing drinks and a TV is on in the background.
Arjun Sodhani attends a San Francisco Young Republicans event held at Trinity Bar in San Francisco on Thursday. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Arjun Sodhani no longer follows the news. As a Republican and loyal supporter of former President Donald Trump, Sodhani thinks the news is mostly not true and will only make him depressed.

But on Thursday afternoon, one story caught his attention.

“I didn’t know until somebody called me and said, ‘Hey, did you hear the news?’” Sodhani said. “I’m like, ‘No. What?’”

Sodhani was referring to Trump’s guilty verdict on 34 felony charges, which sent shockwaves across the globe—and through San Francisco’s tiny Republican Party. Trump was convicted by a New York jury of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels, who alleged the two had sex.

On Thursday night, Sodhani donned his red “TRUMP” hat and arrived at a bar in San Francisco’s Marina district for a scheduled social event organized by San Francisco Young Republicans. At around 7:30 pm, roughly 20 people showed up.

The image shows a red baseball cap with "TRUMP" in large letters and "Agenda 47 - Ask me about it" underneath. The background is dark.
Arjun Sodhani brought a hat that his friend made to a San Francisco Young Republicans event on Thursday. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

In deep-blue San Francisco, where conservatives are always on the losing side, the news triggered mixed feelings for local Republicans.

Unlike Sodhani, union activist Peter Pusateri, a featured speaker at the event, followed the news closely and was fired up over the verdict.

“I was shocked,” Pusateri told The Standard. “I didn’t expect the verdict, but 34 to nothing is pretty outrageous.”

An elderly man with glasses and thinning hair is smiling in a dimly lit room with warm lights in the background.
Peter Pusateri, a union activist and a featured speaker at the San Francisco Young Republicans event, says the “real verdict” for Donald Trump will be the November election. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Pusateri, a Democrat-turned-Republican, followed Trump’s remark that the “real verdict” will be the November election and slammed the legal process as being unfair to the scandal-plagued former president.

Similarly, Jason Zeng, a Republican former candidate for Congress and supervisor, echoed Trump’s comment describing the trial as “rigged.”

Zeng said that Trump’s guilty verdict won’t change many conservatives’ opinions of Trump, but also noted that he wasn’t initially a passionate supporter of the former president. 

“I may see an article on Google News,” Zeng said. “But I don’t really click on it.”

Two man talking at a bar
Jason Zeng, right, hands out a sign-up sheet at a San Francisco Young Republicans event. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Before the speaker program officially started, press members were advised to leave the event. John Dennis, the chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, and Min Chang, a local GOP central committee member and a school board candidate, were enjoying their drinks at the bar counter.

Dennis told The Standard that he received many press requests after Trump’s verdict was announced and described the prosecution of Trump as a political move by the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden.

“It’s appalling,” Dennis said. “This is a coordinated effort by the sitting president to use lawfare against his chief political opponent.”

Dennis believes that many Republicans will be galvanized to campaign for Trump.

A man and woman sit at a dimly lit bar, facing the camera. Shelves with bottles and glassware fill the background, and a TV screen shows a sports game.
San Francisco school board candidate Min Chang, left, and John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, attended a San Francisco Young Republicans event on Thursday. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Chang appeared more divided on Trump’s dominance in Republican politics. The Chinese immigrant and nonprofit worker said she’s a fiscal conservative but socially centrist and found a sense of belonging with the San Francisco GOP, especially among the more politically moderate cohort.

“Trump to me is very polarizing,” Chang said. “What we need now, especially now, is people that can collaborate and work together.”

When asked who she would support on the November ballot, Chang gave an answer that may be controversial to some of her fellow Republicans.

“I’m not going to vote for the president. I’m going to skip that section,” Chang said. “It’s hard for me to vote for somebody that I don’t feel passionate about.”