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Nation: All Hers at Last

2 minute read

Dianne Feinstein is elected San Francisco’s mayor

For a year the job had been hers on loan. When San Francisco Mayor George Moscone was shot and killed by Daniel White during a political dispute, Dianne Feinstein was appointed mayor by the board of supervisors, which she served as president. Last week Feinstein, 46, became mayor on her own and established herself as the city’s leading political power as well as its first woman chief executive. In a hard-fought election, she defeated Quentin Kopp, her conservative and abrasive challenger, 54% to 46%.

A supervisor for eight years and a former head of the city’s finance committee, Kopp campaigned aggressively as the man who could solve San Francisco’s recent fiscal problems. Feinstein argued that she had united a diverse city after Moscone’s death. But in the end, old-fashioned political organizing and the wooing of minorities turned out to be more important than issues. Feinstein’s liberal record won her the support of blacks. She also got the strong backing of the gay community by promising to appoint homosexuals to city boards and commissions in proportion to their share of the population (estimated at about 15%). The tactic succeeded: fully 70% of the gay vote appears to have gone to Feinstein, making the election the first in a major American city to be swung by homosexuals.

The campaign left her exhausted. At a victory party, she clutched a ginger ale and complained: “I’ve got a stomach-ache.” She faces some daunting problems: the need for cuts to make up a projected deficit of $117 million and balance the budget, as required by law. But her four-year term will begin with a honeymoon —literally. In January, she will marry Investment Banker Richard Blum, who has been her unofficial political adviser for the past year.

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