Pre-Endorsement Conference Ballot Skews Vote for the Incumbent by Failing to Include Accurate Name of Immigrant Candidate Advancing San Francisco’s Values

SAN FRANCISCO, 10.22.2019 — Last week, the California Democratic Party (“CDP”) announced its preliminary endorsements, falsely insinuating that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supported by a consensus among local party delegates. While Pelosi was reportedly favored by a majority of participants in the pre-endorsement conference, the ballot was inaccurate and failed to include the name of Pelosi’s leading challenger, Shahid Buttar.

Hene Kelly, the state party’s Director for Region 6, administered the election and promised to fix an error noted by a Buttar campaign supporter. She failed to do so, and then offered comments in the press indicating her support for Pelosi. The combination of the party’s marginalization of an immigrant challenger, failure to correct a documented error, and the election administrator’s subsequent statements in the press, suggest a bias that undermines the legitimacy of the process.

Speaking to the Globe Post, Kelly was quoted as saying, “Nancy Pelosi…has been the real thing for quite a while….I’ve been with her for a long time.” (emphasis added)

“It’s one thing to make an innocent mistake with no consequence, but that doesn’t appear to be what happened here,” said Pelosi’s 2020 challenger, Shahid Buttar. “Misspelling a candidate’s name impacts the integrity of any election. Here, Ms. Kelly failed to fix the error despite notice, and then spoke out in the press about her support for the incumbent. That reeks of an unfortunate bias that undermines the legitimacy of the pre-endorsement conference results. We look forward to winning a free and fair election administered by the state rather than Pelosi’s supporters.”

Jasper Wilde, campaign manager, said “The history of institutions misspelling the names of immigrants, in particular, is a long and ugly reflection of institutional racism. As the strongest primary challenger that Pelosi has ever confronted, the state party may try to minimize Shahid Buttar, but the voters will know his name.”

The party’s announcement of a consensus favoring Pelosi corresponds to Mayor London Breed’s controversial decision to appoint career prosecutor Suzy Loftus to fill the vacancy left by former District Attorney George Gascon. Rather than allow the first race for an open seat in over a century, the Mayor leaned on the scale late in the election cycle, allowing her preference to undermine the chance for voters to express theirs.

Similarly, Ms. Kelly’s failure to correct the ballot error may appear innocuous in the abstract, but appears distinctly less so when viewed in context. Mayor Breed’s appointment of Loftus ultimately aimed to defend an establishment threatened by the candidacy of reformer Chesa Boudin. Kelly’s comments in the press supporting Speaker Pelosi suggest that the error marginalizing Pelosi’s leading challenger may have been an intentional response to Buttar’s campaign—representing the progressive future of the party in a challenge to its corporate past—gaining support among delegates.

A detailed description and outline of Shahid Buttar’s platform, as well as his background, can be found here.

About Shahid Buttar

Shahid Buttar has been building social movements and speaking truth to power for almost two decades. Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, he has worked in both San Francisco and Washington as a legal advocate, a non-profit leader, a grassroots organizer, and a poet & musician. His passions have long aligned around a common purpose: building the movement to place human rights and human needs like peace and sustainability before corporate profits.

An early advocate for marriage equality for same-sex couples and a prolific organizer in the movement to end warrantless government surveillance, Shahid most recently built a national grassroots network for the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the organization’s Director of Grassroots Advocacy. He also challenged Nancy Pelosi for her seat in 2018, when he won more votes than any other challenger from the left in 10 years.

His writing has appeared in TechCrunch, Truthout, the Huffington Post, EFF’s Deeplinks blog, Project Censored, and various legal academic journals, and he has been quoted as an authority by outlets including the New York Times, CNN, the Nation, al-Jazeera, WIRED, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, Democracy Now!, the Intercept, and the Guardian US.

Interested parties can find out more at, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, at @ShahidForChange.