OK, it’s time to wrap up the Winners and Losers of the 2008 election. I have a couple more entries for the next few days.

First, it’s time to wrestle with these two: City Councilwoman Donna Frye and Mayor Jerry Sanders. Were they winners in the last election? Or did they come out weaker?

Obviously, Sanders won reelection in June. Frye has two years left in her term. So, personally, they aren’t going anywhere.

But they both were keenly interested in the last election. Ever since I asked for your thoughts on the Winners and Losers this round, I’ve gotten tons of emails arguing that Frye was a big loser in the election and others that said Sanders was the loser. It’s a little hard for my big brain to square that. There’s really no way, in my mind, that Sanders and Frye were both losers coming out of the Nov. 4 election. If one lost, it would be logical to conclude that the other won.

I think I’m going to come down on the middle. They both lost and they both won. But they come out of the election in much different places than they were before.

Let’s start with the mayor. No doubt he was hoping that April Boling won in District 7 of the City Council and that Phil Thalheimer won in District 1. They lost and so the mayor lost. I also don’t think he’s all that excited about having Carl DeMaio on the City Council. Some Republicans heart the young wonk, DeMaio, but others think he’s a powder keg that will blow up in their faces.

And while we’re at it let’s talk about this obsession over Republicans vs. Democrats on the City Council. I believe, and have argued for some time, that the supposed split between them is artificial. Right now, the two biggest buddies on the City Council are Jim Madaffer and Scott Peters, a Republican and a Democrat respectively. They agree on pretty much everything. DeMaio and Frye have teamed up too? The interparty admiration and intraparty warfare is not exclusive to either side.

I would bet $100, for instance, that the mayor is much more excited to work with Todd Gloria, a Democrat, than DeMaio. There are only a couple of votes a year that break down along party lines. More often than that, there’s a deeper and more nuanced split: establishment vs. reformers; labor vs. business (which is not always the same as Dem vs. Rep); and sincerity vs. game playing.

Maybe you all can help me come up with a new way to describe the real division on the City Council. Is it just Rep. vs. Dem? No way, right?

But I digress. The mayor clearly had other hopes for how the City Council elections would turn out and the two big races went against him.

On the other hand, the mayor was engaged in a prolonged political death match with the city attorney. The mayor will march live for four more years. The city attorney is cleaning out his office. This is a big win for the mayor who says he’s desperate to have a lawyer at his side to advise him and his staff on the big issues — that Aguirre has provided only obstruction, if that, over the last couple of years.

This is a win, however, that comes with a price: Now the mayor has no excuse. Aguirre has been a fine foil for the mayor. Hiccups and hindrances can be blamed on the city attorney. At least, they could.

Now it’s a whole new game. The mayor will have fewer excuses to get things done. We’ll see if he does. Sure he can blame the City Council, and a more labor friendly body may oppose his privatization initiatives and any hopes for a new pension system. But a good leader could forge compromises in tough times with a City Council that sincerely accepts that we’re in a financial downturn.

As for Frye, the calculation is similar. Did she come out stronger or weaker with the election results?

Well, before the election, she seemed to be working hardest for City Council candidate Stephen Whitburn, in his bid against Gloria (again, if the only thing that mattered on City Council was party affiliation, Frye would have no reason to get in this race as both Whitburn and Gloria are avid Democrats).

Obviously, Whitburn was beaten pretty handily in the race. And now Gloria might not be so happy with Frye. Though I doubt he’ll hold much of a grudge, Gloria probably won’t support Frye for City Council president. Whitburn would have.

Frye also donated to Aguirre’s re-election campaign. She may not have knocked on doors until her knuckles bled for him, but she did support him. And now he’s gone.

These two are losses.

On the other hand, Frye endorsed Sherri Lightner and Marti Emerald in their bids and was supportive of them. Think about who those two are replacing: Peters and Madaffer. They may work together like peas and carrots but those two have been anything but Frye’s friends on the Council. Now two Democrats are replacing them and they appear at least open to listening to Frye. She’s got a whole new group of potential friends.

This is a win.

Frye, along with City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, also shepherded Proposition C to the ballot. This set aside a portion of the budget to ensure Mission Bay and certain parks were protected.

This is another win.

No, Frye and Sanders did not get everything they wanted out of the last election. But they both got a couple of things they did want. And now they are both in a position to take advantage of it.

We’ll see if they do.


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