The city’s fearless and occasionally politically tone-deaf leader, Chuck Reed, was riding high after successfully placing pension reform and binding arbitration on the ballot with a carefully stitched-together coalition that seemed to spell the end of organized labor’s control of the San Jose City Council.
The afterglow was short-lived, however. Reed threw the new majority into chaos with his divisive endorsement of gay marriage opponent Larry Pegram for a council seat, just a day before a California court overturned Prop 8.
Though he won’t say so publicly, among the dismayed was cat-herder Sam Liccardo, the downtown district councilman who helped orchestrate the 7-4 vote. Judy Chirco, who holds the council seat for which Pegram is now battling Don Rocha, was “visibly sickened” by the mayor’s announcement, according to one 18th floor source.
As Fly noted last week, it’s the latest in a series of Reed endorsements that seem to be based more on personal loyalty than high strategy. These have ranged from his support for labor back-watcher Dolores Carr, the defeated DA, and his baffling recent endorsement of Richard Calderon, who also lost.
The Pegram bombshell also recalls Reed’s disastrous 2007 endorsement of Hon Lien against Kansen Chu, which showed that Reed couldn’t even secure his own council district for a successor. While Reed’s personal popularity remains high in polls, his endorsement seems to be more of a curse than a blessing these days.
The effect will likely be to drive Rocha, who was hoping the mayor would stay out of the race, more tightly into the clutches of the South Bay Labor Council, rather than cost him the election.