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Chronicle’s role in resurrecting Willie Brown

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

imageA Chronicle story about how Mayor Ed Lee’s ties to columnist Willie Brown aren’t hurting the mayor politically is at least as interesting for what it says about the newspaper’s role in creating the Willie Brown that a newer generation of San Francisco voters has come to know. Here’s an excerpt, after a quote from Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard about how guilt-by-association with Brown appears to be about the only weapon Lee’s opponents have to work with:

Part of the reason is that the FBI probes, patronage and allegations of pay-to-play politics that swirled around Brown's administration a decade ago have largely faded from memory - or were never known by voters who weren't here then, analysts said.

Brown left under "more than a cloud - a thunderstorm," said University of San Francisco political scientist Corey Cook. But now Brown, a Chronicle columnist, is a tremendously popular figure in the city, viewed by many as an avuncular man-about-town, elder statesman and a uniquely San Franciscan character.

"It's not the same electorate it was a decade ago," Cook said. "The Willie Brown they know is the Willie Brown giving them movie reviews and restaurant tips. He sort of transcends his last years in office."

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