Ralph Nader's running mate is ...

Former San Francisco supervisor Matt Gonzalez!

Published February 28, 2008 6:39PM (EST)

Never-say-die independent candidate for president Ralph Nader has chosen his running mate for his 2008 quixotic quest for the White House: former San Francisco supervisor Matt Gonzalez. Poor San Francisco. Our reputation as a hothouse of woolly liberals, out of touch with the rest of the country, riding ratty bicycles in traffic while drinking black coffee and reciting Ani DiFranco lyrics, has just got a major boost in the mass media.

Here in San Francisco, we know Gonzalez as the progressive Green Party candidate who amassed a surprisingly effective grass-roots campaign that came within a few downtown power brokers of upsetting Democrat Gavin Newson for mayor in 2003. Yet, in 2007, Gonzalez refused the opportunity for a rematch, despite the fact that Newsom, who was wounded by a sex scandal, had a mixed mayoral record. Newsom went on to face a field of unlikely challengers, perhaps the best known among them "Chicken" John Rinaldi, a local Burning Man art-scene fixture. Needless to say, Newsom was swept back into office.

The immediate benefits of Gonzalez as a running mate to Nader will be obvious to any San Franciscan: Dead Kennedy tunes at campaign appearances, endorsements from post-Beat San Francisco poets and alterna-chicks giving Nader a second look.

But why Gonzalez is joining the Nader campaign has War Room flummoxed. Does Gonzalez really think he has a better chance of advancing his progressive agenda on Nader's laughably doomed ticket than he would have by running for mayor again in San Francisco, where he actually stood a chance of winning and getting something done?

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections War Room