Broke-Ass City: Why I’m getting into the mayor’s race

There is something truly amazing happening in San Francisco. It has nothing to do with The Giants or The Bay Lights or even a particularly good strain of weed that’s going around.

It has to do with City Hall and it is fascinating: everyone is afraid of Mayor Ed Lee.

If you’re not paying attention it’s hard to notice. I mean, Lee’s public demeanor is that of a friendly, well meaning uncle, the kind who’s always quick with a smile and an encouraging pat on the back. So I don’t mean people are physically afraid of Ed Lee, nobody thinks he’s going to give them a wedgie or a noogie.

But people are terrified to run against him and this is particularly strange considering that a KPIX poll in December had his approval rating at 47 percent.

Read that again: the mayor’s approval rating is 47 percent and nobody wants to run against him. I mean the KPIX weather person is probably correct more often than 47 percent of the time … and she predicts weather … in San Francisco.

So how does this happen? How is it that someone with less than 50 percent of the voters’ confidence, is running basically unopposed? I’m not very good at math but those odds seem pretty good for anyone one who wants to challenge him.

Maybe I overstepped the line. Technically there are people running against Ed Lee. In fact there are something like 20 of them, but in the grand scheme of S.F. politics they are each considered at best, a protest candidate, and at worst, a fucking lunatic. So really he’s running unopposed.

Ed Lee is the champion of big business and downtown money. He’s giving free rein to developers so that they can do pretty much whatever the hell they want, and he’s letting huge tech companies slide by on taxes because they are funding his campaign.

So where’s a progressive candidate to take up the cause and fight for the rest of us? Where’s the Matt Gonzalez of 2015?

I reached out to my buddy Nate Allbee, a political consultant who ran David Campos’ 2014 campaign, to find out. He told me, “Everyone is scared shitless of the mayor. Nobody wants millions of dollars of Ron Conway or Reid Hoffman’s money poured into smear campaigns accusing you of murdering women. These are like the Koch brothers of San Francisco.”

And Allbee knows what he’s talking about, Hoffman and Conway are on record spending hundreds of thousands of dollars wrongfully trying to paint David Campos as a supporter of domestic violence. Holy fucking shit, right?! That’s not just trying to win an election, that’s trying to ruin someone’s life.

Considering Team Ed Lee has already raised over $2 million, it makes sense that candidates who we all thought would run, like Tom Ammiano and Mark Leno, have decided to sit this one out.

So I’ve decided to run for mayor instead. Yes, really.

Do I think I’m gonna win? Come on, I’m not as dumb as a I look, but I’m fascinated by all the shit I mentioned above. San Francisco is beyond growing pains, it’s getting stretch marks. And for me, as a writer and chronicler, there’s no better way to see this first hand than throw myself in the middle of it. I plan on exploring San Francisco’s ridiculously crooked political process from an outsider’s perspective. I wanna see the guts of the system and I wanna see how far I can take this whole thing without fully playing the game.

And I want you to come along with me, both in print and in person. From now until November I will be chronicling my exploits as a mayoral candidate right here in The San Francisco Examiner. And if you want to get involved in person email me at and/or come to “Broke-Ass Stuart’s Bar Mitzvah Party: Celebrating 13 Years in SF” this Sunday night at Rickshaw Stop where I will be officially announcing my candidacy.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in The San Francisco Examiner.