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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Dems: Stem Cell Matrix

Posted by Bob Brigham

San Francisco's new Stem-Cell research headquarters will allow an agressive young mayor to nationalize a cultural wedge issue that cuts through the heart of the GOP base. Democrats can make an investment in nationalizing this issue as tactically perfect in the short term and paying long term dividends as the research progresses.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco was chosen as the headquarters city Friday for California's $3 billion stem cell program, overcoming a strong challenge from San Diego and Sacramento in a battle that was decided mainly on regional loyalties.

Mayor Gavin Newsom called it a historic achievement for a city and region struggling to find its economic footing after suffering through the collapse of the dot-com bubble.

"This secures our future as a point of destination for discovery," Newsom said. [...]

[Newsom] said the "fundamental" factor was San Francisco's global status as a trend-setting place where experimentation is part of the daily fabric of life.

While Newsom has only been mayor for 16 months, he already found success at leading the Democratic Party through bold action that nationalizes our values.

Newsom was vindicated for the Winter of Love, he is now pushing forward on all fronts.

San Francisco Examiner columnist P.J. Corkerly:

On Gavin Newsom's desk in City Hall, near his iPod with its 2,198 tunes, sits a black binder called "The Matrix." It's not the wine list from Matrix/Fillmore, the sleek urban bar in Cow Hollow that he founded and to which he still retreats (the second-story office of Matrix/Fillmore is a kind of unofficial second mayoral office). … Rather, the black binder is one of five or six such binders — and one tattered magazine from May 24, 1968, with an Andy Warhol pop-art cover — that he refers to often in the course of the day.

The Matrix book itself is something new in U.S. politics: a constantly updated (via PDAs and pencils) database, possible only in this era, and probably manageable only by a mayor interested in weaving his knowledge of the dynamics of day-to-day politics with the data-weaving possibilities of the tech he also loves so well.

What is the Matrix?

The Matrix is a written record of every promise he has made as a candidate and as mayor, and of every idea he has uttered or promised to look into. The Matrix also records every action taken, or not taken, on these promises and ideas — and why. ... Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, used to get in citizens' faces and sputter, "How'm I doin'?" He would have loved The Matrix.

It's candid. Of his own proposal to station fire trucks and firefighters on street corners as a crime deterrent, Newsom's Matrix says, "Terrible idea."

"You succeed by failing," says Newsom. "I hope to keep embarrassing myself. It's only by throwing out the ideas that prove to be bad as well as those that are obviously good that you make any progress.

"But you need accountability. That's why I have The Matrix. The day gets so busy you can't otherwise keep track of everything. It's good politics, too. People are always happy to meet the mayor; they have ideas and problems. But if you don't follow up, then at the end of the term, yeah, you've met a lot of people. Disappointed people.

Keeping track of the push for stem-cells will keep the issue in the limelight politically as Newsom does everything possible to foster the science.

While 2004 presidential candidates were running from the issue of Gay Marriage, Newsom was establishing himself as a civil rights leader. While everyone running in 2008 is seeking to be known nationally, Newsom is finding success at global recognition.

It is one thing when a politican can bring together the money and wherewithal to fix a pothole. But it is on an entirely different level when the potential returns are in the range that stem-cells offer.

And it is a great issue for Democrats and disaster for Republicans. First, the GOP needs to worry about the red state brain drain that will result from Newsom's capitolization of San Francisco as the bio-tech leader. Second, the GOP distance from most Americans on the issue has significant backlash potential.

Newsom deserves much credit to-date, but now the real work begins, as a Chronicle editorial noted:

But city officials, led by Mayor Gavin Newsom, also made a sterling case to be the home of the $3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Against a tight deadline, they put together a package that will provide the stem-cell center with an incentive package estimated to be worth $17 million, including 10 years of free rent, nearly $1 million worth of hotel accommodations and free use of laboratory facilities.

But now the hard work begins. California voters decided to invest billions on the promise of pioneering research, even though there is no guarantee of success. But the Golden State was built on such visionary risks, and now San Francisco must show it is the proper place to lead this breakthrough medical and technological effort.


Posted at 04:53 PM in 2008 President - Democrats, California | Technorati