435 districts: How to Win in San Francisco

One can dream. Promoted. -Patrick

Update: As many people have pointed out, the surname Wong is inherently Chinese.  That said, I chose a Korean deliberatey.  Thus, I'm changing the candidate's name to Rob Ho Park.

This entry is intended to illustrate the type of Republican that could win a House seat in San Francisco.  It is not intended to describe a real person.  Imagine this as a future Weekly Standard/National Review profile.


Who is he: Rob the Custom Bicycle Store Owner.

Rob Ho Park is a second generation Korean American whose parents immigrated here in the 1950's during the War.  He is married and has three children.  Growing up in San Francisco, he was the first person in his family to go to college, graduating with honors from Cal in 1991.  That fall, he enrolled at a Masters Program at Stanford only to drop out six months later to join a Silicon Valley start-up.  After 5 1/2 years of 90 hour weeks, the company went public and Rob became wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

Rob survived the dot com bubble intact but shaken.  He decided to return to work only to learn that steady work is less available.  He accepted several consulting jobs and continued with his life.

Then came 9/11....

Rob was in the 7-11 in Palo Alto the first time he heard it.  About six hours after the attacks he was in line paying for his gas and coffee when the woman behind him said "we sponsored bin Laden in the 1980's so this is really our fault."  Rob was flabbergasted and sickened, yet he chose to write it off as an isolated incident.

Rob moved on with his life only to find consulting unsteady and inconsistent.  This became even truer in 2002 when Congress passed (and President Bush signed) the Sarbanes/Oxley act, which drove technology venture capital overseas.  Rob was once explaining this to a friend  when the friend said: "Yeah, that [censored]hole Bush can't do anything right."  Rob was shocked by this, even though he didn't say anything at the time.

In 2003, Rob landed a 2 year consulting contract that put him back on easy street for the first time in several years.  This time, however, Rob decided to save most of the money so he could start the business he's dreamed of owning since he was a small child.  This decision infused him with a new passion as he threw himself back into his work.

In 2005, Rob's diligence allowed him to finish his project a month early.  At this point, Rob sold the house in Palo Alto (for a surprisingly large profit) and moved the family back to San Francisco where he planned to open a custom bicycle shop.  For the rest of the year, the bike shop consumed Rob's life.  He was surprised by how difficult it was to open a business in San Francisco (not to mention the rents...), but he was determined.  He jumped through every hoop and cut through every piece of red tape the city and state could throw at him.  He even took out a loan when his savings proved insufficient.  Finally, in March 2006, Rob opened his store!

2006 and 2007 were, by most measures, the best years of Rob's life  Running the bike shop was better than Rob had ever imagined and his wife gave birth to their third child.  At the same time, several things beneath the surface troubled Rob deeply.  San Francisco had changed since he moved away twenty years before.  While he'd always considered San Francisco's cultural foibles amusing, they'd now crossed an unspoken threshold of decency.  Aggressive homeless people started living in front of his store and in the parks where his children played.  Rob tryed to take this in stride, but can only take so much public consumption of HARD drugs and public fornication.  Making matters worse, the Mayor seemed more concerned with Gay Marriage than doing anything after his store was broken into in March 2007.

2008 was the final straw for Rob.  Rob had survived a recession and prepared early to weather another one.  He prudently ordered less overhead and installed solar panels (at an out of pocket cost of $10,000) to take advantage of a loophole in California's tax code.

It wasn't enough.  In March, Rob let his first of five employees go.  Then, the city raised his taxes.  This forced Rob to lay off two more workers.  Then the state ended up even deeper in the red than people had thought and the state threatened to raise his taxes.  While the tax hike isn't official yet, Rob is terrified because he knows this next tax hike will be his last.

At the same time, this Gay Marriage stuff has gotten under Rob's skin.  While he has gay friends, and doesn't really have a problem with Gay Marriage, he was appalled by the arrogance of the CA supreme court decision and quietly voted against Prop 8.  He thought that was the end of it.  He was wrong.  Nothing prepared him for the circus following Prop 8.

All this has left Rob Ho Park livid and ready to take it out on the incumbant leadership in his home city.  He's decided to run for the House and he needs your help.


Again, Rob is not a real person (or, if he is, I'm WAY better at this than I thought).  He's meant to represent the type of person we should seek out if we want to seriously contest a U.S. House seat in San Francisco.

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Well ... close

Here's a real San Fran Republican:


Here's another - Hispanic, catholic, runs a nonprofit:


They have pretty interesting and useful bios as well.

Hot Darn....

Substitue a different ethnic Group and Mr. Maldanado fits my criteria perfectly.

2 questions:

1) Policital advantages of playing the ID pol card aside, what is Mr. Maldanado's entrepreneureal history?

2) Does Mr. Maldanado have any skeletons in his closet we should know about?

If the answer to both of these questions are yes and no (in order) then we might have our candidate.

Still, more research is needed.

Joe Cao = Rob Wong

The funny thing is that we actually found this guy in New Orleans and got him elected to congress.


Yup, now you have to find a way to get Wong to run against an incumbent who was busted with packages of loot in his freezer.

He sounds like a schlemiel

what kind of a man sits quiet and gets more and more disappointed? Man, if you're upset, speak OUT!

And if you put down that he was renting his home, and that he was forced to lay off workers because of increasing health care costs, you'd have someone that I might take a look at. Because he might be looking at the REAL problems, on both sides.

Fiction is not a plan

Why don't we stereotype all Asians with a Chinese name, even when we specify that our strawman is Korean?

As a person who has started and run four entrepreneurial adventures, INCLUDING A BIKE SHOP in the SF Bay Area where we sold custom bikes, I would be willing to bet that the writer has never opened and run a small business.

And definitely not a bike shop.

rofl. how was owning a business in sf?

damn. missed that the writer obviously doesn't know Korean naming schemes (also that most Koreans have one of about ten last names.)

sorry to hear

your stupid bike shop got shut down.

It didn't get shut down

I sold my interest to my partner.  Where did you get the 'information' that it was shut down?

What small (or large) businesses have you started or run?

Interesting intellectual exercise...

Either a small business owner or, like Cao, a community/non-profit activist.

A community ACTIVIST???

I thought that was a dirty word to the GOP?   At least that was the schtick they were trying to sell to a national audience during the convention.  Or is it OK to be a community activist but not a community organizer?  Important to keep the boogey-men straight...

Who said it was a dirty word?

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IIRC, Palin was responding in kind to Democrats who discounted her experience as small-town mayor. Am I to assume that you think small-town mayors are boogey-men?

Regarding the article: much as San Franciscans like to see themselves as outsiders, truth is that San Francisco is not very different from other American large cities. It's a lot like Washington DC, New York, Chicago or *gasp* Los Angeles.

The #1 lie about big cities is that we cannot win there because the population is "too diverse for Republicans". Hogwash. Even as large cities have gentrified, their politics have shifted to the left. This trend is especially pronounced in SF. 10 years ago, The City was less than 50% white. Today, it's close to 60% white. Which is not to suggest that we should resort to race-baiting a la David Duke. Just reminding my fellow Republicans that tokenism is not the path to success.

There is a better way. See Rudy Giuliani in NYC. I'm not talking about abortion! People voting in city elections aren't thinking about Roe v. Wade. Rudy knew that safe streets were the key to victory. Calls to “clean up crime” will be mischaracterized as dog whistle cues for white supremacists. We shouldn’t back down from that fight.

This may annoy our libertarian friends, but I'd also like to see Republicans address the issue of gentrification. Not because it's making cities less diverse. Gentrification is breaking up families & destroying civic traditions. The challenge is to keep housing prices under control without further meddling in the market. Perhaps demanding accountability from borrowers?

gentrification produces liberals.

unless you care to win by appealing to them, you will continue to lose. And, as networked individuals, they're more likely to be turned off by an Allen or a Corker.

Smalltown mayors are only boogeymen when they get drunk and start making love to sockpuppets, while using colorful swear words in restaurants. (nu? how many small town mayors do you know?)

A Cartoon

If you want to win in San Francisco, the first thing you need to do is understand the city as it actually is. The San Francisco described here is a cartoon. The type that conservatives in Tracy invent to feel better about themselves. It bears only a passing resemblence to the real San Francisco.

However, this article does illustrate well the big problem with today's GOP. What makes Mr. Wong (sigh) so appealing to Republicans?

He's resentful.

That's it! That's the whole appeal.  He has no vision. He has no optimism. If the stuff he resented actually existed in S.F., he couldn't actually change any of it from Congress (why wouldn't he run for the Board of Supervisors?). How will things get better if he wins?

To quote a real, successful small businessman-turned-politician from San Francisco: "you gotta give 'em hope."  But I fear there's not much room in today's GOP for such politicians.

Excellent observations

and telling that the storyline isn't carried through to express how Wong would change things.  Seems to be enough for him to run on his gripes and resentments, and the woe of being surrounded by godless liberals who raise taxes.  I'd like to hear how Wong is going to pay for actual services to address the issues he is concerned about -- or if he'd cut the services to avoid tax increases.  Either is a viable position, but it seems like most in the GOP only want to shout about taxes without more than a vague nod to "efficiency" to explain how they'd provide the same level of services in light of rising costs.  Doesn't a police car or fire truck cost more than it did in Reagan's day?  Could that be why the city had to raise taxes, to continue providing a level of service the public demands (including Wong)?  At a certain point, isn't it possible that "efficiencies" just aren't enough to keep up with rising costs over time?  Or would Wong borrow the money instead?  Seems like that was W's approach.  Still waiting to hear why 'borrow and spend' is superior to 'tax and spend'... 

This insults my intelligence

All you are doing is is drawing up a fantasy of a  somewhat moderate rich Republican and then pasting an Asian face on him in order to make him saleable to San Fransciscans.

Meanwhile, what is his message, and why will it appeal to voters?


You named your pretend Korean "Rob Wong"? Thanks for reminding this son of Japanese immigrants why I don't vote Republican.

No on 8

Oh, and he opposes equal rights for gays yet "quietly voted against Prop 8"? This guy is as clueless as his creator. But thanks for cancelling out Madonna's accidental yes vote, right-wing retard.


sorry my japanese friend

nonchalantly saying the ficticious character opposes equal rights because he voted down Prop 8 is a coy way to discredit actual valid reasons and ideas.  any rational person can oppose gay marriage and believe in equal "rights" for all.  are you saying the black community is against "equal rights for gays."  how bout the majority of California?  how bout 29 other states?

dont put a widespanning argument over fixing what activist judges did into a small box like "opposes equal rights for gays" you only spell out your own INTOLERANCE for any who brings real common sense and/or values to the table.

let me guess, you are probably retarded enough to think that if someone opposes federally mandated wages and standards under the shiny veil of "Equal Pay for Equal Work" then you are against Womens Rights.  DId i get you right?

Quit spreading YOUR H8 and Intolerance, progressive pos.


As has been mentioned, this is not bringing the GOP any closer to engaging with reality. The flaws have been detailed by other commenters.

Setting aside the cartoonish ignorance of the post, in gauging San Francisco, you should remember that the current mayor, Gavin Newsom, who unilaterally kickstarted the whole gay marriage kerfuffle? He was the conservative candidate.

This reminds me: a couple jobs ago, the mailroom guy was a giant fortysomething Ukrainian, who had served in the Soviet Marines' bomb squad. He insisted that the USSR could have invaded the US, with 20-40,000 troops coming in from Cuba. When I pointed out that 40,000 was hardly enough to hold Florida with a hostile populace, he said "No, we talk to everyone, tell them we make everyone equal." I said, "Americans don't want to be equal. We want to be rich." He never quite accepted that Soviet propaganda, even during the Cold War, was a source of humor for Americans.

Certainly in urban areas, the Republican message has about that level of credibility.

Considering that San Francisco is essentially a 1 party state...

...and that you're content with that fact, you might want to reconsider which of us has more in common with the USSR peon.

It can be hard to tell from a distance...

Considering that San Francisco is essentially a 1 party state...and that you're content with that fact, you might want to reconsider which of us has more in common with the USSR peon.

It's quite a bit more complicated than that. The majority of the population lives in the cities and on the coast, which except for San Diego and Orange County are incredibly Democratic, but it's a huge state, and the inland rural areas are heavily Republican; for example, see these hideous maps from 2000 and 2004. Don't be fooled by the fact that the presidential electoral votes are guaranteed Democratic.

The Assembly is a 51-29 Democratic majority, while the Senate is 24-15. Democrats don't have the 2/3 majority required to pass a budget, so every year, the Republicans stonewall (regardless of the governor's party affiliation), and the budget gets done 2-9 months late. Many of the Republican legislators are not moderates (I'd provide names, but the legislature is so useless all around that I don't waste my time with them).

Our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a Republican: generally quite moderate, but in 2004 he did go to the RNC and do his creepy "Four more years! Four more years!" thing. Four of the last six governors have been Republicans.

California is a very large, complicated state. We have 36 million people, and the 9th-largest economy in the world. There's a lot more to it than San Francisco (even the real San Francisco, let alone the conservative bogeyman caricature). Wikipedia is your friend. =)

I grew up in CA.

Berkeley, actually. East Bay kid. Half my family still lives there. Will be moving back next year. Only Democrat CA Governor I've lived to see was the terribly unpopular Gray Davis. So you'll never hear me argue that we can't win there. No caricatures here. =)

But let's not pretend that SF is a microcosm of CA. Newsome is no moderate. He's one of Willie Brown's boys. Brown won by running hard to the left of a real moderate Democrat: Frank Jordan. Then he tapped Newsome as his successor. Newsome only took up the cause of gay marriage because he was afraid of being outflanked on the left by Greens.

CA has no viable 3rd party. The Greens are not a "loyal opposition". They are more of a special interest group who wants to pull the Democrats left.

We really need to remember that SF is not unique for a large American city. I've lived in several metro areas. To quote local (St. Paul) right-wing crackpot Joe Soucheray: "The closer you get to the country's tallest buildings, the more likely you are to encounter anti-Republican sentiment."

I want to applaud Cahnman for posting & Patrick for promoting this article. Cahnman's taken a lot of shots, some which were incredibly unfair. By the way, those cheap shots betray an arrogance & rotten sense of entitlement from Democrats.

But your work was certainly appreciated, Cahnman. This is the kind of uncomfortable dialogue we need to start in order to compete in large cities. Thank you.

Fundamental problem

Why are the Republican's so weak in large cities?

Stating the obvious: cities mean high population densities, and as the PD increases, so does the need for government involvement. A gathering of 50 people can look after itself; a gathering of 50,000 needs policing, crowd control and provison for emergency services.

So: how to reconcile the Republican belief in limited government with the demands of high PD areas?



meh. i think it's slightly different.

in a small town, you can burn or witchhunt out anyone who is too different (both documented by people who live there. the things you learn while backpacking!). in a big city, well, you got to learn how to get along -- there's generally too many people to kill. Or that might just be a consequence of non-bribable police officers.

There are cultural reasons too, is what I"m saying. you're making a good point too, not dissing you


As a San Franciscan of many years, I have to say this is HILARIOUS.

Problem of this is not only the many factual nonsense, the delusion and all that but I think they key thing here is that not only is Rob Wong is fictitious, but that so is the San Francisco you describe.

And that's why Republicans will never win San Francisco - or most urban areas. Because your idea of what progressive values in action is such a ridiculous caricature that bears no resemblance to reality that noone will ever take you seriously here. There definitely are some downsides and in an ideal world, Republicans would be smart enough to figure out what they are and adopt the values of the city while offering better management. Thinking "public fornication" is at the core of what is wrong with our city is just ... dumb. And thinking you can win a campaign with that is even dumber.

Basically saying Rob Wong can win SF by running on a "SF is too tolerant and free-spirited" is like saying a Democrat can win Colorado Springs by running on a "Colorado Springs is too religious" platform. It is ridiculous. You win by being close to the core values of the city but offering changes in tone, management and on a handful of popular issues. That's how Democrats have won in the South. They run conservative Democrats who have the same values than the region they come from - vs the values of their party - but run on competence and a handful of key issues that speak to people.

Just the same way Democrats have muted the values debate to win in the South based on pocketbook issues, the only way Republicans can win in urban blue areas is to adopt the urban values of tolerance and run on pocketbook issues of competence. The problem is the contemporary Republican party is BASED on the conservative values and therefore cannot be as big a tent as Democrats are right now on the value issues.

As long as ranting against "public fornication", "gay marriage" "homeless" and so forth will be the motivation for Rob Wong to enter politics, Republicans will never win urban areas.


Many of the above commenters have rightfully pointed out why so much of this is nonsense. One thing they have not pointed out is that you can't be for gay marriage and see the CA Supreme Court decision as illegitimate (which is debatable but let's grant that small point to make a bigger one).

The bottom line is that if you are for gay marriage, you believe it is a civil right that is wrongfully denied to a minority. In which case not only you think it is OK for the judiciary to be taking that decision away from the oppressing majority but you think they OUGHT TO. Just the same way interracial would have stayed illegal for many more decades if we asked people what they thought of it. THAT IS the duty of the judiciary to protect minorities from the prejudices of the majority. That's exactly what the CA Constitution was written for.

Pro-gay means you have to support bad court decisions?!?

One thing they have not pointed out is that you can't be for gay marriage and see the CA Supreme Court decision as illegitimate (which is debatable but let's grant that small point to make a bigger one). The bottom line is that if you are for gay marriage, you believe it is a civil right that is wrongfully denied to a minority.

You are 100% wrong. I may be in favor of a flat tax but that doesnt make progressive income tax unconstitutional in my eyes. One might favor changing the definition of marriage to include gays but recognize the plan fact that its the legistlative branch which legislates changes, not the courts.

The argument t that you would automatically see this as a civil right doesnt address the nub of the issue, which is whether IT IS A RIGHT ACCORDED IN THE CONSTITUTION AND LAWS IN PLACE. There is a big difference, and if you are in the boat of thinking "Anything that I think SHOULD be a right must therefore BE a right in the Constitution" ... then you have fallen for dangerous 'living constitution' malarkey that undermines the rule of law. The plain fact is that all the court rulings to support gay marriage have been out right acts of judicial legislating.

Why cant a logical person recognize that a bad argument made to reach a conclusion they might support IS STILL A BAD ARGUMENT?

The argument that you have to fall for very very bad constitutional law thinking if you are for gay marriage is a complete logical fallacy.... But both concepts are rotten fruit from a similar tree of 'ends justifies the means' thinking. Bulldoze and destroy established conventions and institutions, like a developer bulldozing an endangered species habitat, to achieve your desired political ends.

meh. roe v wade was a bad decision

one can still support the idea that the constitution changes, and see that. I live in a Quaker state, I'm all in favor of a living constitution. That still doesn't mean that everything is inside the constitution, understand. But there are definitely some things that are. Or are you going to bitch about Jim Crow being unconstitutional? You know, the systematic enslavement of black men for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Something that only the rich folk got anything back from, other than pride?

Watch out there.

"The problem is the contemporary Republican party is BASED on the conservative values...."

Which leaves us with Democrats with little more than a thirst for power.  The Dems ideology is win at all cost, see Blagojevich. 

san fran 'tolerant'? that's a myth

... they change one set of prejudices for another set of prejudices and call their set of prejudices 'tolerant' because gosh darn it, if you dont agree with them, you're just an evil bigot who DESERVES to lose your job, get your life ruined, etc. etc. I think the hate from the anti-8 post-election mobs should wake people up to this fact. It's not about tolerance any more. It's about squashing dissent to their POV entirely, at least for the activists.

of course, you cant label a whole city anyway with a label better attached to individuals ... but the idea that san fran is more 'tolerant' due to its political extremism and cultural bohemian behavior is farcical. 


I deserve to give my business to people who will buy from me

The fact that some people discriminate against me becuase of my religion is HIGHLY GERMANE to my buying habits. Even if it is their religion that says that they ought not to buy from me.

Every single person is free to make their decisions on who to buy from. If your religious beliefs are something that I find objectionable, it's my FREE COUNTRY, and I can take the high road.

Catch you on the low road.

Why would I vote for him?

Why would anyone vote for Wong without knowing what he stands for?  Opposition to gay marriage does not qualify him for Congress.  Nor does it make him electable in San Fransisco.  A dream candidate would not only have a dream resume, but also a dream agenda.  Your little fantasy doesn't even have an agenda, much like the modern Republican party.  It didn't go that well for them trying to get McCain in on the basis of being a war hero.  The guy who "didn't know much about economics" was sent back to school.


San Fransisco might elect an economic conservative, one who wants to streamline business regs and restrain social spending.  Tryiing to sell San Fransisco a social conservative shows how out of touch Republicans have become.