A video clip of Assembly District 17 candidate David Campos comparing his campaign against Supervisor Matt Haney to Ukrainians’ fight against the Russian invasion drew comments from residents and politicos of San Francisco on Twitter Saturday.
.@DavidCamposSF comparing his fight to beat @MattHaneySF for an assembly seat in Sacramento to the Ukrainians fighting Putin is possibly the most absurd thing to come out of his mouth — and that says a lot. pic.twitter.com/m7CAX8NdV0— The Marina Times ⛵️🗞️ (@TheMarinaTimes) March 19, 2022
Campos made the remark, captured in a brief video tweeted by The Marina Times with more than 8,000 views as of Saturday evening, at a campaign mobilization event held at the Bernal Heights Recreation Center that morning.
“There is some… connection to Ukraine because we are fighting and running like Ukrainians,” said Campos in the video. “We are up against the odds.”
The backlash against Campos’ comments on Twitter was swift and ranged from humorous to disgusted.
“Sure. Except you’re not literally dodging incoming artillery fire, but yes, other than that, just like the Ukrainians,” wrote one sardonic Twitter user.
“I did not have Campos comparing his campaign to the Ukrainian Struggle on this morning’s bingo card,” tweeted Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing Development Corporation.
I did not have Campos comparing his campaign to the Ukrainian Struggle on this morning’s bingo card— Sam Moss (@sammymoss425) March 19, 2022
“Gross. Can he not think before he speaks?” added another, with a GIF of a “What the F*ck?” meme.
In an interview with The Standard, Campos said he would not minimize what’s happening in Ukraine, “having come from a country where people died in a civil war.” He immigrated from Guatemala at age 14 during the country’s 36-year civil war.
Campos took to Twitter to further explain himself in a tweet thread saying, “I would never trivialize the suffering taking place in Ukraine.”
Let me get this straight. My opponent’s supporters are attacking us because I expressed admiration for people fighting for democracy against a regime backed by oligarchs? I would never trivialize the suffering taking place in Ukraine.— David Campos (@DavidCamposSF) March 20, 2022
Campos told The Standard that his comments were taken out of context.
“I think the point of the comment was to say that we're fighting like underdogs, not to compare ourselves to the suffering that's happening in the Ukraine,” Campos said, adding that his heart goes out to the Ukrainian people and that his campaign stands in solidarity with them.
At the same time, he defended likening his campaign to that of an underdog, citing his own experience fleeing from political turmoil in Guatemala as a teenager.
“The fact that I can say that I'm an underdog, it's something that is real. If people have an issue with saying that we're an underdog, then that's their issue,” Campos said.
Supervisor Hillary Ronen echoed Campos’ sentiments, coming to his defense on Twitter.
“@DavidCamposSF was simply saying he’s the underdog in a fight & like Ukrainians knows the feeling of fleeing a war,” wrote Ronen on Twitter. “He did carry his sister on his back across the border to safety. No need to stoop so low.”
Campos’ opponent in the AD 17 race, District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney, thought that Campos’ comment was “offensive.”
“Ukrainians are currently being killed by the thousands and are fighting for their lives. David Campos drawing a parallel between his campaign and their heroism and sacrifice is offensive,” wrote Haney in a texted statement to The Standard.
Campos said that Haney “is scared of the momentum that we have and he’s trying to score political points,” in an interview with The Standard. “I think he’s trying to make something out of nothing.”
But some San Franciscans disagree. This incident appears to be impacting their voting decisions.
Haney and Campos head into an April runoff election to fill the seat vacated by David Chiu, who was appointed as city attorney in September 2021.
Christina Campodonico can be reached at [email protected]