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THE RECALL ELECTION | RECALL NOTEBOOK

Shock, Pride Among S.F. Democrats

October 09, 2003|From Times Staff Reports

San Francisco proved to be California's alternative universe with the recall election.

As the recall soared to victory and Arnold Schwarzenegger trounced Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante statewide, voters here held fast to their Democratic roots. About 80% of San Francisco voters rejected the recall, and Bustamante received 63% of the votes, compared with 19% for the Republican front-runner.

As the city's political isolation came into clear focus late Tuesday, reactions ranged from shock to grief to liberal pride.

"Are we the wackiest state in the union, or what?" said political strategist Darcy Brown, as she watched Gov. Gray Davis' televised concession speech at San Francisco's City Hall. "Can you believe this?"

Some grasped at straws, taking solace in the presence of the Kennedy clan in Schwarzenegger's victory entourage. "Maybe that will help," said a wistful Sue Bierman, a member of the county' s Democratic Party Central Committee and a former county supervisor. "I hope they have some influence on him."

But Rebecca Reynolds-Silverberg, who chairs the 12th Assembly District's Democratic Caucus, was close to tears. She had just left Democratic Party headquarters, where the planned party had turned into a wake.

The big names -- U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer -- never showed. Instead of popping champagne corks, the four activists who lingered under a cloud of depression found an old rind of cheese in the refrigerator and made do with that.

Then, when Schwarzenegger was preparing to announce victory, Mary Jung, who headed the "No on Recall" campaign for the party's Central Committee, pulled the plug on the television.

"I think we should secede from the union. I don't want to live in California anymore. We're totally surrounded by idiots," Reynolds-Silverberg said. "I expected Democrats to hold to our party line. It's a Democratic state. Now I hope they enjoy what they wrought."

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Spam Jams E-Mail Server at Davis HQ

At the height of the recall campaign, the Davis headquarters in West Los Angeles was paralyzed when someone managed to hack into the campaign's e-mail server.

Schwarzenegger sabotage? Nixonian dirty tricks?

Apparently not.

After four days of frantic sleuthing by the campaign's information technology specialist, Noah Austin, the problem was traced to an Internet address in China's Guangdong province.

Someone had apparently used a computer "worm" to capture the user name and password of someone on the Davis campaign staff.

Then the person -- or persons -- began using the campaign's server to send out spam -- hundreds of thousands of e-mails advertising such items as sexual potency drugs, campaign staffers said.

The spammer was sending out about 60,000 e-mail messages an hour using the campaign's server.

The volume -- combined with the crush of error messages created by undeliverable messages -- shut down the campaign's e-mail system for one entire day, and created sporadic problems for four days, campaign staff said.

As a result, the campaign wasn't able to send out news releases and advisories on campaign events, said press secretary Gabriel Sanchez.

The attacks raised fears of political sabotage in the Davis campaign, as well as the prospect that the hacker had purloined sensitive campaign documents.

The FBI was called in, but that investigation didn't go far after the agency asked for copies of all the Davis computer files in an effort to trace the culprit.

Instead, Austin wrote a program that allowed him to isolate the Internet address of the hacker, which he traced to China -- relieving fears of political sabotage.

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