Ed Lee’s mayoral campaign kickoff Saturday had signs, buttons, balloons, stickers, speeches and spirited chants of “Run, Ed, run!” — all the fanfare you could think of such an event having, except for one critical element.
As a new “campaign headquarters” for the interim mayor was getting packed with loud supporters, a mariachi band and a Chinese parade dragon, Lee was visible only as a speck in the distance, atop Twin Peaks at the annual Pink Triangle dedication for The City’s Pride weekend.
Maybe he heard the rally’s clamor below, but no matter how much people want to chant it, Lee just keeps politely declining a full-time shot at San Francisco’s most powerful office, a job he currently holds on an interim basis.
Behind the campaign without a candidate are powerful members of the political action committee Progress for All, who say if Lee doesn’t end up tossing his hat in the ring by the Aug. 12 deadline, it won’t be for lack of effort on their part.
“The public might have to require him to run,” said Willie Brown, the former mayor who turned up at the event to talk up Lee. “He shouldn’t be able to just skate. It’s his duty.”
Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey reiterated Saturday that Lee doesn’t plan on running, and said she is not aware of the mayor ever requesting that Progress for All cease its activities.
“He’s looking forward to returning to his position as a city administrator,” Falvey said, referring to Lee’s pre-mayoral role in city government. “He’s glad that people think he’s doing a good job.”
The cynical among San Francisco’s political scene read more into the campaign than just an Ed Lee lovefest.
While Progress for All is technically a political action committee with the ability to raise funds freely, Ethics Commission Executive Director John St. Croix told The San Francisco Examiner last week it appears on the surface to operate more like independent expenditure committee supporting one candidate. In that case, individual donations would be limited and could endanger his efforts under campaign finance law.
Chinatown political powerhouse Rose Pak, one of the committee’s co-chairs who was instrumental in getting Lee appointed mayor, said she’s “not sure of the technicalities” of the group. Donation forms were readily available at the welcoming table of the Run, Ed, Run office, a former Chinese restaurant that was revamped and cleaned of graffiti for Saturday morning’s event, according to neighbors.
Gordon Chin, another committee co-chair and the executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, said he’s “dead sure” Lee will run for mayor, despite repeated, albeit courteous, refusals.
“It ain’t over until the mustache sings,” Chin said.