Overheard in Fog City: Chiu to Run for Mayor?

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on December 31, 2010 with 9 Comments

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. Photo by Luke Thomas.

By Luke Thomas

December 31, 2010, 2:05 pm.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu today confirmed a recent rumor suggesting the soon-to-be acting mayor of San Francisco is considering a run for mayor in 2011.

Chiu said he has engaged in discussions about a possible run for mayor with campaign manager Nicole Derse. Derse, you’ll recall, successfully ran Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s 2004 election campaign and worked on the 2008 campaign to elect President Barack Obama.

Nicole Derse. Photo via Facebook.

“A lot of folks have been reaching out to me about a potential (mayoral) campaign,” Chiu told FCJ, adding, “Nicole and I have been friends for years and she reached out to me.”

Derse has not responded to a request seeking comment at the time of publishing.

When asked if he has committed to running for mayor, Chiu said, “Absolutely not.”

On January 3, Mayor Gavin Newsom will assume the Office of Lieutenant Governor whether he is sworn in or not.  If the current Board of Supervisors fails to appoint an interim mayor at its final meeting on January 4 (six votes are needed and supervisors cannot vote for themselves), and the new Board fails to appoint an interim mayor on January 8, Chiu would remain acting mayor until a new mayor is elected at large in November.

Such an outcome would provide Chiu with incumbency status, a distinct advantage over a growing list of mayoral contenders that includes City Attorney Dennis Herrera, termed-out Supervisor Bevan Dufty, State Senator Leland Yee and former Supervisor Tony Hall. Though they have not filed as yet, State Senator Mark Leno, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Michela Alioto-Pier, and former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez, are rumored to be considering mayoral candidacies.

Chiu said he would be “surprised” if the current Board of Supervisors does not vote for an interim mayor on January 4 despite Newsom’s threat to delay his swearing in.

“A lot of people are looking at that legal question,” Chiu said, referring to whether Newsom can still claim to be Mayor of San Francisco when his term as Lt. Governor begins on January 3rd. Due to conflict of interest considerations, electeds are barred from holding multiple offices.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Overheard in Fog City: Chiu to Run for Mayor? are now closed.

  1. whoever becomes mayor, I hope they will consider:

    1. Scrapping the dig to Chinatown and instead put a moving sidewalk through the Stockton Street tunnel.

    2. Implement a serious plan to make all city computers use open source software that will end proprietary licensing fees and outside consultants– and give jobs to local IT professionals.

    3. Improve commonsense police foot patrols. At least get rid of their Harley hogs– how about these vehicles?

    Whatever… think more “small is beautiful”; think “elegance as opposed to crude, expensive, and noisy”; think more “community sharing and less user fees and exclusivities”

    Some food for thought?

  2. “Chiu has shown he can work with different factions,”

    How do you figure this, examples, please?

    There is this false notion that has been established from local to national in politics that when progressives and liberals demand equity in deal making that we’re somehow demanding a revolution. The political center of gravity in the media has shifted that far to the right. We are at the point where it is regularly painted that demanding 50% is tantamount to demanding 99%. This was the convention used for the America’s Cup deal making, where Daly’s move was excoriated by the downtown booster/screechers until it wasn’t and now everything is okay.

    From both sides, it is not the end of the world to settle for 50%, not for progressives, not for moderates or even conservatives. Still waiting for 50% on a regular basis…most all I’m seeing is 10% with 90% of that sucked down by nonprofits.

    Arguably, Campos and Avalos have banked more wins than Chiu whose perceived viability rests on keeping that 50% number down to 10%. Avalos got 50%.

    So as far as banking wins goes, what is the substance of the case that David Chiu can work productively with different factions as measured by outcomes?

    So the previous poster would support Avalos and Campos but wants to go in the opposite direction as myself or Brooks? Does that make sense on the policies to anyone or is it just ad hominem? The politics of cliques and cooties are alive and well in San Francisco. Its all about friends getting the seat. Perhaps more so than the “left coast” it should be the “let my friends coast.”


  3. Leno is the new chair of the Senate budget committee, which is one of the most powerful government positions in the state and country. Being an executive like a mayor has its perks, but I’m not convinced he would think dealing with the headaches of the SF budget would be as challenging as dealing with the budget of the 7th or 8th largest country in the world – and he’ll have far fewer people yelling at him on a daily basis.

    Yee will be a strong candidate, but some of his skeletons won’t go over so well in the east and central sections of the city. Petty theft is still theft.

    I think Chiu measures up well with Yee and Ting (another mediocre politician) since Chiu has shown he can work with different factions, which is a major positive for a vast number of voters other than the 20% of “progressives” who seem to view compromise as weakness.

    Sure, I’d like to see Avalos or Campos as strong mayor candidates, but I think the voters will need to see more from them as legislators before ranking them very high on their ballots in 2011.

    Mirkirimi has the connections to the police and firefighters from his long tenure in the DA’s office, which would help his campaign with more moderate voters, but I think a lot of progressives won’t be all that supportive since he really hasn’t produced much important economic legislation in his six years in office (plastic bag ban?) and his autocratic and insular governing style hasn’t won him a lot of supporters among the progressive ground troops. He reminds me of a rehashed Agnos – good with the sound bites, but lacks any vision for making the world a better place and doesn’t like to hear or consider contrary points of view.

    Gonzalez is a wild card since he taps a lot of hope and idealism from broad segments of the city and not just the hard-core political junkies. If he and Mirkirimi were the only two progressive candidates, I think people would be surprised how much energy Matt’s campaign would generate compared to a lackluster response to Mirkirimi.

    San Francisco is a very Asian, affluent, well-educated and socially aware city. Mr. Chiu fits those constituencies very well. I think he stands a good chance of making to the final two in an RCV election. If the race is still close and it’s Leno or Yee or Mirkirimi who comes in number three, Chiu will likely have a majority of the next ranked vote on those ballots.

    Perhaps the best reason why a Chiu candidacy sounds exciting is that if Marc Solomon and Eric Brooks are so quick to dismiss him, then that’s the best vote of confidence for me. Whichever way those two are headed, I want to be going in the opposite direction.

    Let’s take the next year to figure out how we’re gonna try and crawl outa this quagmire that Newsom has buried us deeper in. Then let everyone crazy enough to want the job start, at least theoretically, on equal footing and duke it out. They can spend the next year proving to us that they can function, in the public interest, in the jobs we are already paying them to do.
    Mike is probably one of, if not the, most honorable, dedicated public servant we have had for decades. If he wants it, the Mayoralship would be fitting laurel wreath to mark the culmination of an illustrious career.
    Just my 2c.

  5. Agreed, Yee has been around the block more times than we can count, plays for keeps, and will run circles around novice Chiu while Leland benefits from Chinese surname IRV vote transfers of David’s second and third choices. Ditto for Ting.

    Chiu’s win in D3 in ’08 was based as much on Peskin’s endorsement and clearing the field of progressives than on Chiu’s field operation, no disrespect to David Ho’s talents. After Chiu’s tenure as Board President, David would be more on his own in a citywide race than he was in ’08 in D3. And I don’t see where he has put together the coalition through governing to make that up from this standpoint.

    The more Chinese Americans on the ballot, the better it is for Leland unless his negs are raised and result in him being Perata-ed or Reilly-ed. I don’t see any sort of cooperative campaign alliance between Ting and Chiu that would paint themselves as everyone’s second choice like Quan and Kaplan did in Oakland, not unless they come across some seriously stuffed red envelopes this month. To what extent are Leland’s negs inside baseball and to what extent would they resonate within the Chinese American community in a competitive race?

    Chinese American surname vote transfers are somewhat of an autopilot operation, and in D1 in ’08 the ideological overlay couldn’t put Sing over the top against Mar.

    45% chance of Chiu becoming interim mayor with six votes. 20% chance of Chiu winning in November if he is NOT IM, 15% if he is.


  6. Chiu would be a fool to run for Mayor. Yee and/or Leno would wipe the floor with him.

    And the progressive movement simply will not get behind a mayoral candidate who hasn’t even finished his first term, and who has voted much too far to the center on key issues like Lennar.

    So he wouldn’t be able to win as a centrist -or- a progressive.

    If Chiu does this, he will be rightly seen as a premature wanna be. He’s not ready. And whoever is advising him should tell him so.

  7. So “. . . the soon-to-be acting mayor of San Francisco . . .” means that no one willing to do it has the votes to become interim mayor?

    @marc: “You can only make yourself swing vote so many times before people wise up.” Could you provide, a list, or at least a few concrete examples?

  8. It is not that one can’t win elections by shoe leather organizing in the absence of policy, but if the compass points that have guided Board President Chiu are any indication, there doesn’t seem to be any discernible reference points to his game.

    It is one thing to make the trains run on time, quite another to make them run in a direction that gets us where voters want to go instead of in the direction the politician wishes to travel. You can only make yourself swing vote so many times before people wise up.

    I know I’ll never get a job in the Mayor’s office this way, but the problem we’re seeing is that so many involved in politics are putting their employment prospects in a job market that is a game of dwindling musical chairs before moving any sort of political agenda.

    All the while, locally in California and nationally, the position of average folks is deteriorating while those of the business and political elites are improving. This is the desired outcome for conservatives, not so much for progressives, liberals and moderates.

    The center cannot hold under these conditions.


  9. Great, the plot thickens!!

    Another nice holiday gift. This one from David Chiu. Now, I’m no expert on these interlocking successions (neither, apparently, is anyone in the City Attorney’s Office) … but, Newsom could stay until the end of his term if he wants, right? If he could get Jerry Brown to hold the Lite Guv seat open, he could finish his mayoral term in SF and then take the oath for State second-in-command. Thus, he doesn’t violate any pesky ordinances about holding two jobs cause he’ll only have one. And, as an added bonus, by finishing out his term he’ll keep his commitment to his Downtown stake holders. Oh, and the people too.

    And, who the hell says Chiu is a lock for Board President? All the numbers I’m crunching say Elsbernd or Kim.

    You do know that early in the day that Matt Gonzalez called to announce in an only mostly facetious muse that he’d volunteer to be the ‘Interim Lt. Governor’ pro bono if he’s needed.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    Go Warriors!