Everybody knew Gus Newport had no chance to defeat Warren Widener for Mayor in 1979. Widener had been in office for eight years and Gus was completely unknown.
An attractive poster, in the new BCA colors designed by Mal Warwick and Peter Babcock, was not expected to help much. However, the poster's "Democrat for Mayor" slogan was unusually pragmatic and electoral in tone. Winning was the goal.
Mayor Widener was loathed by the progressive community for being elected with left wing votes in 1971 and then becoming the leader of the conservative coalition. This betrayal remained unforgivable. Widener had by now run left, right, and center in his ten years on the Council.
Gus Newport was lucky to have even received BCA's nomination for Mayor. Gus barely led Councilmember John Denton after an eight ballot marathon, two- week convention ordeal, in which no candidate achieved the necessary 2/3 votes to win. By agreement, the trailing contender, John Denton, then withdrew, and asked BCA to nominate Gus Newport by acclamation. The longest primary fight in BCA history left relatively little bitterness to mar the campaign.
On April 17, 1979, Gus Newport defeated Warren Widener for Mayor, the biggest upset in modern Berkeley history. BCA partisans partied all night.
It was the Berkeley Republicans who later took credit for this result, by having denied Widener crucial votes in an organized boycott. The Republicans were tired of being marginalized by their Democratic partners in the conservative coalition. Widener was sacrificed, but the Republicans had demonstrated their power, and the 1981 election would be very different.