Newsom’s nemesis may make move for throne

Supervisor Chris Daly — known for his headstrong activism and unrestrained criticism of Mayor Gavin Newsom — picked up the paperwork this week to enter the race for mayor.

Whether Daly will actually run — as he suggested a few days ago — will be known by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for November’s election.

Months ago, Daly said he would enter the race for The City’s top office if no other member of San Francisco’s progressive camp stepped up to challenge Newsom. He then backed away from the vow, citing his desire to spend time with his wife, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child.

Instead, Daly tried to encourage former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez — who ran against Newsom in 2003 and garnered 48 percent of the vote — to take a second stab at becoming mayor.

Gonzalez, a private-practice attorney, toyed with the idea for months, but said publicly last week that he would not run.

Daly went to the Department of Elections on Wednesday afternoon and picked up the documents that would allow him to nominate himself for mayor and launch a campaign. The deadline to file those papers is today.

If Daly runs and decides to accept public financing for his campaign, he will be required to participate in at least one debate against the other candidates.

Newsom said he’d be ready to engage Daly in a face-to-face forum. “I’m happy to have a discussion in a framework that’s appropriate to discuss our vision of the future. I’d look forward to that,” he said.

Whether Daly has a chance of beating Newsom — who enjoys high poll rankings — is doubted by many, including Daly himself, who told The Examiner in May that it would be hard to compete against the multimillion-dollar campaign that his political enemies would certainly finance.

“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 in May. He did not return phone and e-mail messages left for him Thursday.

In recent months, Daly has also lost some of the support he had from other progressive members on the Board of Supervisors after he publicly accused Newsom, during a heated budget discussion, of hiding a cocaine problem.

In response, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin removed the supervisor from his position as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. When Daly subsequently asked his board colleagues to support his budget priorities against the Mayor’s, he found no backers.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano said Daly’s recent public criticisms of his progressive allies on the board would need to be mended before he could go forward with a successful campaign.

One of Daly’s prominent supporters, who wished not to be named, said his discussions with the supervisor left him with the impression that “he’s just getting in the race to raise issues.”

David Latterman, a San Francisco political analyst, said Daly was a “a smart guy” who could control the tenor of the race, but not the outcome.

“If he makes it about issues and ideas, he could actually further it for the progressives,” Latterman said, noting that far-left leaning Democrats and Green Party members were in the majority on the Board of Supervisors and making inroads on the Board of Education.

“If he turns this into an anti-Newsom diatribe, and goes after him in a very personal way, it could get very ugly very fast.”

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?


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