SANF November 2010 : Page 48

TOP: JIM HERD; BOTTOM: COURTESY OF GAVIN NEWSOM 48 THE CHART SAN FRANCISCO NOVEMBER 2010 Who’s your mayor? With Gavin Newsom becoming either lieutenant governor or a lame duck, a decade’s worth of pent-up ambition is rushing the stage. Is this—for better or worse—the progressive bloc’s chance to run San Francisco? BY CHRIS SMITH OVER THE YEARS, MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM AND HIS PRO-gressive opponents have engaged in a near constant pissing match. They’ve gutted each other’s programs and taken every opportunity to kick sand in each other’s faces. So it’s more than a little ironic that if Newsom wins his race for lieutenant governor on November 2, he’ll be handing the keys to Room 200 to these enemies for at least a year and, if they can make voters like them, maybe for the next fi ve. Progressives already control the board and will proba-bly continue to, even with bulldog prog Chris Daly retir-ing; they’ve also stolen off with the obscure but powerful San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (SFDCCC), where they steer local party endorsements and try to steamroll moderates. Should Newsom go to Sacramento, they can seize the mayor’s offi ce, too. (The board gets to pick Newsom’s interim replacement.) Of course, the prospect of really running the city must be as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Whoever takes the mayoral reins in January will confront a budget disaster of Old Testament proportions and will likely have to slash services and raise taxes; it’s hardly the stuff of elec-toral gold. Depending on how things go under its rule, the left could either be set up for a long reign unheard of in a modern American city—or, as one political con-sultant I interviewed for this story put it, “Thus could endeth the progressive experiment.” Looking into the crystal ball, city hall watchers plot the intrigue like courtiers in a comedy of manners. At center stage is Aaron Peskin, the irascible “president of What happens on Nov. 2? This year’s swearing-in of the Democratic County Central Committee, whose mainstream liberal members, including no-show powerhouses from Dianne Feinstein to Nancy Pelosi, are routinely outvoted by Aaron Peskin (short guy in front of seal) and his progressive faction, including David Chiu (third from right). N Newsom’s bid for lieutenant governor may be the most progressive thing he’s ever done. If he ends up in Sacramento, the board of supes, which is run by his left-leaning opponents, gets to choose an interim mayor. Does Newsom become lieutenant governor? the progs” and bête-noire-for-life of moderates. If Newsom wins, some believe that the interim throne may be Peskin’s for the taking. But maybe not: He has serious baggage—if you believe the citywide polls, he’s as popular as bird fl u—and no one really knows whether he has the pull to get six votes on the board. Much of the speculation has had board president David Chiu, the so-called Chinese Obama, getting the nod. But as we went to press, rumors were swirling that Chiu may be on the outs with his own board allies and with Peskin, thanks to his centrist dealmaking. Alliances change quickly here, though, and he could also easily slip in at the end—exactly as he did to become board president last year. Or the board may think twice about the looming budget mess and decide to appoint a “care-taker” mayor who will, à la Hippocrates, do no harm. In that case, the whole process will just get kicked down the road a few months. Regardless of who’s sitting mayor in 2011, expect a war of all against all for the offi ce in next fall’s cam-paign. “We’ll see everyone who was too afraid to run against Gavin,” says Paul Hogarth, a progressive activist and a writer for BeyondChron. But the farther you stray from Peskin and Chiu as mayor, the less likely the full-on progressive agenda—which would probably mean higher taxes on corporations, tougher rules for developers, more affordable housing, and maintaining social services—will hold sway. State senators Mark Leno and Leland Yee both have liberal cred, but neither is particularly beholden to the SFDCCC’s agenda. City attorney Dennis Herrera has already announced his run for 2011, but as his gang injunctions show, he’s not exactly reliably progressive. If DA Kamala Harris runs, she’ll be what passes for our law-and-order candidate. Many other half-bold names—Phil Ting, anyone?—may run, but probably not effectively. Then again, who can tell? “If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen,” says lobbyist Sam Lauter, “they’re lying.” page for a flow chart of the roughly million ways events could play out. Turn the G M A O V I S N W E

The Chart

Chris Smith

<B>Who’s your mayor? Oh, what a tangled web Gavin might weave. On the eve of his potential departure from Room 200, we map the fleet of progs angling for their first real shot at the city’s top seat.</b><br /> <br /> OVER THE YEARS, MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM AND HIS PROgressive opponents have engaged in a near constant pissing match. They’ve gutted each other’s programs and taken every opportunity to kick sand in each other’s faces. So it’s more than a little ironic that if Newsom wins his race for lieutenant governor on November 2, he’ll be handing the keys to Room 200 to these enemies for at least a year and, if they can make voters like them, maybe for the next five.<br /> <br /> Progressives already control the board and will probably continue to, even with bulldog prog Chris Daly retiring; they’ve also stolen off with the obscure but powerful San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (SFDCCC), where they steer local party endorsements and try to steamroll moderates. Should Newsom go to Sacramento, they can seize the mayor’s office, too. (The board gets to pick Newsom’s interim replacement.)<br /> <br /> Of course, the prospect of really running the city must be as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Whoever takes the mayoral reins in January will confront a budget disaster of Old Testament proportions and will likely have to slash services and raise taxes; it’s hardly the stuff of electoral gold. Depending on how things go under its rule, the left could either be set up for a long reign unheard of in a modern American city—or, as one political consultant I interviewed for this story put it, “Thus could endeth the progressive experiment.” <br /> <br /> Looking into the crystal ball, city hall watchers plot the intrigue like courtiers in a comedy of manners. At center stage is Aaron Peskin, the irascible “president of the progs” and bête-noire-for-life of moderates. If Newsom wins, some believe that the interim throne may be Peskin’s for the taking. But maybe not: He has serious baggage—if you believe the citywide polls, he’s as popular as bird flu—and no one really knows whether he has the pull to get six votes on the board.<br /> <br /> Much of the speculation has had board president David Chiu, the so-called Chinese Obama, getting the nod. But as we went to press, rumors were swirling that Chiu may be on the outs with his own board allies and with Peskin, thanks to his centrist dealmaking. Alliances change quickly here, though, and he could also easily slip in at the end—exactly as he did to become board president last year. Or the board may think twice about the looming budget mess and decide to appoint a “caretaker” mayor who will, à la Hippocrates, do no harm.In that case, the whole process will just get kicked down the road a few months.<br /> <br /> Regardless of who’s sitting mayor in 2011, expect a war of all against all for the office in next fall’s campaign.“We’ll see everyone who was too afraid to run against Gavin,” says Paul Hogarth, a progressive activist and a writer for BeyondChron. But the farther you stray from Peskin and Chiu as mayor, the less likely the full-on progressive agenda—which would probably mean higher taxes on corporations, tougher rules for developers, more affordable housing, and maintaining social services—will hold sway. State senators Mark Leno and Leland Yee both have liberal cred, but neither is particularly beholden to the SFDCCC’s agenda.<br /> <br /> City attorney Dennis Herrera has already announced his run for 2011, but as his gang injunctions show, he’s not exactly reliably progressive. If DA Kamala Harris runs, she’ll be what passes for our law-and-order candidate. Many other half-bold names—Phil Ting, anyone?—may run, but probably not effectively.<br /> <br /> Then again, who can tell? “If anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen,” says lobbyist Sam Lauter, “they’re lying.”

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