Burton, John: Moscone Senator and Mayoral race


John Burton: In 1966, there was a reapportionment so San Francisco got two Senate seats. They kept them at large instead of having districts. It was Leo [McCarthy] against George. The interesting thing behind that was that Gene McAteer who was the Senator who everybody thought was supportive of Leo because Leo worked for him, but he was kind of upset with Leo because as soon as Gene didn’t run for mayor, Leo went off on his own allegedly without saying to Gene “Senator, I’d like to do this.” He just did it, and so Gene was not happy on that. So a lot of his people, John Monahan and some others, supported George. George beat Leo. Same thing again, he (George) concentrated on the west side when the polls had showed Leo because of the McCarthy Irish name was stronger on the east side, but again the slate card went in and I was in office at that time too in the Assembly. I went out in all my literature was Democratic Team Burton and Moscone. So George got elected to the Senate, then wanted to run for Governor – which made no sense – and after an aborted shot, showed his intelligence and dropped out of that. Then he ran for Mayor – which every native son’s dream is to run for “Mayor” – and got elected. I think he just wanted to run for Mayor to be “Mayor of my town.” I’m not sure he had a program. He ran against a guy name John Barbagelata, very conservative, which we should have won in a walk, but the town was going through a sea change, and George represented what was going on that a lot of old-timers didn’t like whether it was the Blacks, the Gays, etc. Barbagelata tapped into that, and it was a very close election that George won. This is my opinion, but I think he never got over the fact that he didn’t win big because I know George. It’s like “Should have beat him by 25 points, we won by 2” like he took it personal. It wasn’t personal to him, it was personal to the fact that the city was changing and Barbagelata wanted old-fashion values. Then somebody – I think it was Barbagelata, and maybe Kopp too – wanted to recall George, [Joseph Freitas Jr] the DA, and maybe Sheriff [Richard] Hongisto if he was the sheriff. It was kind of a stupid thing. The recall got defeated big, and I think – we never discussed it – that had to make him feel better like he had been validated because barely beating John Barbagelata, right-wing republican in San Francisco, was something he took personal. It had more to do with what was going on. You know Harvey was just starting, actually I think Rick Stokes was more of the face of the Gay community than Harvey. Harvey just started coming up. It was Rick first, and then Harvey got elected to the Board (of Supervisors).


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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