The Usual Suspects has been a source for San Francisco political junkies since 1995. Originally a blast fax, discussing potential and real candidates for various offices in San Francisco, it evolved into a mass email and then a website over the next couple years. The site’s name came from Claude Rains’ immortal line in the movie Casablanca – “Round up the usual suspects.” San Francisco’s political intrigues occasionally remind some people of the complex and mysterious world of Casablanca, and we felt it would be a nice tribute to link our town to the movie.
Of course, the Bryan Singer movie “The Usual Suspects” came out shortly after the website debuted, trumping the immediacy of the original reference. (Fortunately, the wheels within wheels within wheels depicted in that movie are a similarly appropriate match for our city’s convoluted politics…)
Suspects links to stories about local politics and websites that cover local political issues. It serves as a centralized web presence where those interested in San Francisco politics, elections, and governance can quickly find the information for which they’re searching. Suspects also frequently holds content found nowhere else on the web that originates from scholars, pollsters, and journalists, and we’re proud to host their work. We are media enthusiasts, and our enjoyment of reading and watching and surfing for the next big story led us to start Suspects.
Suspects links to what’s being written in the Chron, Mercury, Weekly, Ex, Asian Week, Noe Valley Voice, and so on, without fear or favor. We strive for an impartial outlook in these pages. Let us know if we’re failing.
From its founding till May 2016, Suspects was operated by Alex Clemens and his team at Lighthouse Public Affairs (formerly Barbary Coast Consulting), a communications and strategy shop.
In June 2016, Alex passed the torch of operating and updating Suspects to The United Democratic Club. President Justin Jones and Vice President Derek Remski strive to carry on the 21-year tradition of Suspects by remaining impartial, not carrying advertising, and trying (and frequently failing) to be funny.
As a chartered Democratic Club, sometimes we advocate for some of those things covered in these pages, but we make a point to avoid editorializing about the things we work on when we write and update these pages. You’ll always be able to see who updated the stories on any given day – feel free to drop us an email if you think we missed a story or said something poorly. (We’re pretty responsive.)
What They Say About Suspects
“Matt Drudge couldn’t lift Alex Clemens’ mouse. Alex is the uber-political blogger, not just for The City, but for all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world. If you’re not going to read The Usual Suspects you may as well move to Elko, because that’s how close you’ll be to the pulse of San Francisco politics.
Dr. Michael Cornfield, Research Director | The George Washington University Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet
“Suspects is THE definitive web source for reports on San Francisco politics. Suspects is a one-stop shop for political news about the City, with links to all the articles one needs to read, frequent reports from political researchers, and news items that are nowhere else to be found. The Usual Suspects is informative and fun. I love it.“
David Binder, CEO | David Binder Research
“The Usual Suspects is my home page. It’s the first thing I see when I turn my computer on and the last thing I see before I turn it off. I always check it first before I read my Chron & NY Times. A work of genius, it’s my informational cockpit for surveying & keeping up with San Francisco’s political world.“
Professor Richard DeLeon | San Francisco State University
“Suspects has become the most important news source in San Francisco for people who follow local politics and policy making. Suspects puts the ‘they’ in ‘that’s what they say.’”
Gabriel Metcalf, Executive Director | San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association
“When news of the recall stay order came from the 9th Court of Appeals on Monday, Alex Clemens was the man in the know. The consultant’s Web site, www.sfusualsuspects.com, posted the news before Matt Drudge or Fox News…“
San Francisco Examiner, September 19, 2003
“As a political reporter, Alex Clemens’ ‘The Usual Suspects’ is an important gauge of my work. If I get up in the morning and haven’t penned something worthy of the pithy, witty Suspects treatment, my day is desolate.“
Adriel Hampton, former political editor | San Francisco Examiner
“I’m totally addicted. It’s been going on now for a couple years — but getting worse and worse this season– especially now that I can count on Suspects to post reports from news outlets I might not normally see. It’s a terrific service. Nothing else comes close to giving me that special high. And yeah, even I, as a political reporter for several years with more than ten in the biz, feel a little like Adriel does about it from day-to-day, too. I guess it’s because Suspects helps us all keep moving, as they say at Oat Willie’s head shop in Austin, TX: ‘Onward through the Fog!’ Kudos and Cheers! Keep it coming.“
Savannah Blackwell, former political reporter | San Francisco Bay Guardian