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City Attorney Dennis Herrera takes public step toward a mayoral run

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San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera speaks during a news conference at San Francisco’s City Hall Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

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City Attorney Dennis Herrera took the first step toward a potential run for mayor on Wednesday.

Herrera pulled papers with the San Francisco Department of Elections to qualify for his mayoral run in June, according to the department website.

But that doesn’t mean he will run.

“I continue to seriously consider a run for mayor,” Herrera told me Wednesday night. He added that he will continue “to talk with folks about being a potential candidate and keep all my options open. I will make a final decision by the deadline of Tuesday, January 9th.”

The first step in a potential candidacy is obtaining nomination papers from the Department of Elections, which must be filed with accompanying signatures by Jan. 9 to become an official candidate.

So Herrera has waded into the waters of candidacy, but is still mulling whether he’ll dive in fully.

San Francisco’s top litigator was the first Latino elected to the position, and gained prominence for many high-profile cases in his position, including suing California to knock down a ban on gay marriage in the state. That lawsuit catapulted his name into national headlines — forever making him a household name in the local LGBT community.

Herrera hails from New York and arrived in San Francisco in 1988, according to the City Attorney’s Office. He began his political career after he was appointed to various city commissions in the 1990s by then-Mayor Willie Brown. He was elected to the City Attorney’s Office in 2001.

In August 2017, Herrera’s office filed suit against the Trump administration for threatening to strip funding from sanctuary cities like San Francisco. At a City Hall news conference announcing the suit, Herrera told reporters the president’s actions endangered San Francisco.

“In the name of public safety, this president is undercutting law enforcement by trying to withhold money used to fight crime,” Herrera told reporters. “This might make sense to this White House, but it doesn’t make sense for most Americans.”

Though his name has been seen in headlines across the U.S., a survey by Public Policy Polling of 627 San Francisco voters, conducted on Dec. 18 and 19, shows Herrera’s favorability lagging in The City behind his would-be mayoral competitors.

The poll shows Herrera at 10 percent favorability as the “first choice” vote for mayor, with rumored candidates Assemblymember David Chiu at 11 percent and Acting Mayor London Breed at 20 percent. Announced mayoral candidate Mark Leno, a former state senator, had 26 percent of those polled picking him as first choice for mayor.

Supervisor Jane Kim and former Supervisor Angela Alioto have also announced mayoral runs. Alioto’s name was not polled by Public Policy Polling, and Kim had 5 percent of those surveyed ranking her as a “first choice.”

Herrera unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2011 against the late Mayor Ed Lee and a bevy of other candidates, ultimately finishing with 11 percent of the vote, behind only former Supervisor John Avalos and Lee himself, who earned 19 and 30 percent of the votes respectively.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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