Newsom pushes ‘caretaker’ mayor

Mayor Gavin Newsom has been holding close to his vest whether he will delay assuming his statewide post — if he is legally allowed to — to ensure the decision of who should serve as interim mayor for a year falls to the new Board of Supervisors.

That would take the decision out of the hands of the current board and away from the direct influence of Supervisor Chris Daly, Newsom’s most outspoken critic and progressive stalwart.

The progressive bloc on the board has long battled with Newsom and his moderate allies. Progressives have what could be seen as a golden opportunity to put a progressive ally in the Mayor’s Office, who can then run for election in November 2011. But the progressives cannot coalesce behind one person.

Newsom is scheduled to be sworn in as lieutenant governor Jan. 3, providing the current board with a chance to vote on an interim mayor during their scheduled Jan. 4 meeting. It takes six votes to appoint an interim mayor.

Newsom, however, continues to explore the option of postponing the swearing-in until after the new board members are sworn in, which some say would make the board a more moderate legislative body.

On Friday, he told reporters: “I can’t just walk away and see everything blow up and there are a few politicians in this town that want to serve an ideological agenda. The board should pick a caretaker, not a politician. That’s my criteria.” 

A caretaker would serve out the term and not run for election.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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