Mayor remains mum about lieutenant governor race 

Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said his decision to run for California lieutenant governor will partly hinge on how much political influence he could have in the post.

Newsom canceled his trip to Vancouver, Canada, this week to meet with reporters and clear up rumors that he planned to announce his bid for lieutenant governor Tuesday.

The mayor said he will make a decision by March 12, the deadline to declare candidacy. If he decides to run, he would be up against front-runners Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles councilwoman, and state Sen. Dean Florez of Shafter in the Democratic primary.

This week is the deadline for candidates to file a ballot statement, but Newsom was quick to say “don’t read into it” if he does file one. Yet if he doesn’t file a statement, Newsom said it would suggest he might not be seriously committed to a campaign.

“I have not made up my mind,” Newsom said. “When I do, I’ll make sure all of you know. Don’t believe any rumors until then.”

Newsom said he is still analyzing how effective he could be as lieutenant governor and what the job entails. Among other things, the lieutenant governor serves as the acting governor when the governor is absent. The lieutenant governor also presides over the business of the state Senate. In the event of a tie, the lieutenant governor must cast the deciding vote.

Newsom reminded reporters of his reason for dropping out of the gubernatorial race: a commitment to his family and The City. Those concerns are still looming as he considers embarking on another statewide campaign, he said.

Political strategists are curious about why the mayor is waiting so late in the game if he does plan to run.

“Time is getting very, very short,” said Garry South, who ran Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign. “We are less than four months from the primary — that’s not a lot of time.”

But Newsom, who still has $40,000 left from his gubernatorial campaign, said he can easily pick up where he left off.

“I put a year of my life into statewide politics, so it’s not as if I can’t dust off that experience and move pretty quickly,” Newsom said.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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