Political buzz will blanket San Francisco on June 2, with re-election campaign events for the mayor and the district attorney taking place on the same day as a gathering of progressive activists that is being organized by Supervisor Chris Daly largely to announce a challenger for the mayor’s seat.
With less than six months until the November election, the mayor’s contest has provoked ongoing speculation about who — if anyone — will step into the ring to pose a real threat against Mayor Gavin Newsom, who continues to enjoy relatively high popularity ratings among voters.
Daly, a frequent Newsom critic, announced last week that The City’s progressives would hold a convention to consolidate a platform and get behind a candidate.
Daly said he called for the convention because he felt for the sake of “progressive unity” that the ongoing discussions about who should run for mayor should come to a conclusion — and a candidate.
“Setting June 2 as a deadline — this is me using my position as the progressive whip,” Daly said.
Many of the top names discussed as possible mayoralcontenders have already gone on record saying they’re not interested in competing for the job in 2007, including Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin.
Former Mayor Art Agnos said he’s been approached by people about possibly running, but that he’s not convinced he’s the person for the job.
Former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez — whose last-minute run for mayor in 2003 forced Newsom into a runoff — is the progressives’ “strongest challenger,” Daly said, but the Green Party member has been noncommittal about giving it another try. Gonzalez did not return phone and e-mail messages from The Examiner on Friday.
Another person who did not respond to messages was Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whom Daly and others call a strong contender for 2011, when Newsom is termed out of office.
In light of Newsom’s popularity, the progressives’ best strategy might be to use the race to prepare for the future, political analyst David Latterman said.
“Do they really think they’ll be able to get somebody to beat Newsom?” Latterman asked. “I suspect they’re doing this for Mirkarimi, so he can get his name out for four years from now.”
Daly said he still believes Newsom can be beat. Some have suggested that he’s the man for the job, but he said he has numerous reasons — including a baby due on Oct. 30 — not to run.
“I have no doubt I could field a strong, energized campaign, but the question is could that translate into a victory in November?” Daly said, adding it would be hard to compete against the multimillion-dollar campaign he suspects his opponents would wage against him.
Newsom has raised more than $1 million for his campaign, according to his top campaign consultant, Eric Jaye, who said the mayor’s popularity is a result of his performance in office.
“It’s a testimony to the strength of Gavin Newsom as mayor that they [the progressives] have to go to such extraordinary lengths to find someone to run against him,” Jaye said, dismissing accusations that the campaign team scheduled a volunteer rally on June 2 to draw attention away from the progressives’ convention.
Newsom was equally dismissive of the idea.
“I’m hardly consumed by a meeting that Chris Daly is organizing to find a candidate to run against me,” Newsom said.
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