San Francisco Special Election and The LG Race

With SF Mayor Gavin Newsom now officially running for Lt. Gov, this could make a significant difference for that race as well as the future of San Francisco’s governance:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s idea of holding a special election to name his successor if he’s elected lieutenant governor appears to be DOA.

Newsom doesn’t have the six votes on the Board of Supervisors needed to place a charter amendment on the November ballot to require an election, and there doesn’t appear to be much interest downtown for an expensive and rushed petition to get the 47,000 signatures needed to go around the supes. (SF Chronicle)

Thing is, this is ultimately a good government measure. People should get the right to vote for their mayor, but as Supervisor Chris Daly pointed out, they should also get the right to vote for their Supervisor.  I think they would likely get a good chunk of support for a measure that allowed for special elections for both offices.  However, I don’t think that option is on the table.  So, we work with the system that we have got. It may not be perfect, but it generally works.

Of course, this leaves a problem for Mayor Newsom. Much of his base of support will only support him if he can ensure that he won’t be replaced by a mayor significantly to his left.  And with a majority of the Board of Supervisors being to his left, that seems to be the likely scenario.  Under the State Law, if he won LG, he would take office on Jan 3, 2011, and any new board of Supervisors wouldn’t be seated until Jan 8, 2011. Thus, any gains made by “moderates” in the 2010 board elections won’t affect the Mayoral appointment. The current board is the board that chooses Newsom’s replacement.

So, that leaves Newsom one option to win back his friends, bump back his swearing-in date.  At this point it is far from clear if that is possible, and to do so for the sole purpose of affecting his replacement would certainly look hyper-political. And it would likely leave a bad taste in the mouths of San Franciscans.

Of course, there is an option in the LG race as well. In order to get to the general, Newsom will have to defeat Janice Hahn: whom we found impressive in an interview in November.  Newsom has an early lead in polling that he spread around before entering the race.  However, that almost certainly reflects name ID more than anything else.  

Hahn faces an uphill climb, and it is unclear whether she can raise enough money to raise her name ID up enough to compete with Newsom.  On a related note, she’s filed an FPPC complaint against Newsom for potentially exceeding voluntary spending limits and taking too much money from a few donors, saying that the Gov. campaign and the LG campaign should be considered one race. The outcome of that decision could also have serious ramifications for the LG race.

3 thoughts on “San Francisco Special Election and The LG Race”

  1. For San Franciscans, the key difference between voting for Newsom for lite guv and recalling him is that in the former, he also gets banished to Sacramento. So voting for Newsom is actually worse than recalling him.

    Peskin for Mayor!

    And really, the Chair of the SF Dem Party should be expected to ascend to mayor upon a vacancy.

  2. We need a good LG, not a soap opera.  

    Janice Hahn will bring tremendous energy, determination, and courage in the fight for our values in Sacramento.

    Newsom brings drama, controversy, and turmoil.

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