Gavin Newsom has two years left in his term of office, but ambitious politicians are angling for his job already.
Bevan Dufty's announcement Wednesday that he plans to run for mayor of San Francisco may seem premature.
The next election -- in November 2011 -- seems like quite a while from now. Three Halloweens will have passed, two New Year’s Eves and five settings of the clock back and forth between daylight savings and standard time.
But San Francisco's always Byzantine politics are more complicated than ever, with City Hall's current boss, Gavin Newsom, contributing to an upset timetable.
No one else has stepped up to the mayoral plate yet, but rumors have floated through the City by the Bay for some time now. Names like City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi are the ones that keep popping up in political circles.
Who besides Dufty fills out the field of candidates will depend on how the gubernatorial campaign shakes out. If Newsom were to succeed in his bid for governor in 2010, he would have to leave office a year early to head to Sacramento.
At that point, the Board of Supervisors would have to appoint someone to hold the position of mayor. Supervisors like Ross Mirkarimi, Dufty or Board President David Chiu, who has also been rumored to have some interest in the mayoral slot, could end up holding the year-long position. Then that appointee could run in the 2011 election as the incumbent, getting a huge leg up on the competition, without any need for a lengthy and expensive campaign.
Dufty’s announcement doesn’t seem so early when you consider that other possible mayoral candidates like Adachi and Herrera are already running for reelection for their current positions. Because of that, they have the ability to raise money and garner publicity right now that could help them later if they shift their attention to City Hall.
Dufty, who's prevented by term limits from running for supervisor again, ends his time on the board in January 2011.
He sees that date as well within reach, and that’s why he officially declared his candidacy for the San Francisco mayoral election. Dufty said as voters flip the pages on their calendar, he will be able reach out to more and more of the ones who don’t know him as well as his District 8 constituents in the San Francisco neighborhoods of the Castro, Noe Valley, and Glen Park.
“I’m more than ready and you should expect me to be on your street corner soon,” Dufty said. “I think this time will give me the opportunity to talk with a broad cross section of the community.”
Dufty plans to run a “very grassroots, low dollar campaign.” He once again plans to limit the dollar amount that individual contributors can give to his campaign.
Dennis Herrera’s spokesman Matt Dorsey said his boss is well aware of the speculation.
“I don’t believe Dennis has made a decision," Dorsey said. “It’s something a lot of people have talked to him about doing.”
For right now, Herrera is focused on his reelection campaign for City Attorney. Despite the fact that Herrera is running unopposed in this November’s election, he is appearing in television ads to draw attention to what he has crafted as the number one issue in his campaign and a major accomplishment of his tenure: The imminent closure of the 50-year-old Potrero Power Plant and addressing pediatric asthma and other health concerns in the surrounding neighborhood.
Mirkarimi, Dufty's colleague on the board, is being coy about where his political aspirations lie.
“I’m flattered that my names keeps coming up,” he said. “The process of running for mayor is something I may consider.”
Voters will probably “start seeing a number of people who take it to the next step over the next six months to a year. I may or may not fall into that category, said Mirkarimi.”
A representative for Adachi did not return a call for comment.