The Coup Clan: SF Progressives Scheme To Put A Real Leftist in the Mayor's Office

With SF mayor Gavin Newsom having won the race for Lieutenant Governor, speculation is beginning as to who will be appointed to serve out the remainder of his term (he's got about a year left to go). In most normally operating jurisdictions, the outgoing executive usually gets to appoint his replacement, the idea being if the voters can't have their chosen candidate serve out his term, then he should at least be able to pick his replacement to fulfill the will of the People. Not in San Francisco! No, here, the Board of Supervisors gets to choose the new mayor. As a majority of the Supes are Greens and Progressives, there is a certain amount of chop-licking as City progressives contemplate having a "real" leftist in the mayor's office for the first time in 20 years. Don't let a crisis go to waste, right?

The solid left majority on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to do what city voters haven't done for more than two decades: put a progressive in the mayor's office.

Not since the election of Art Agnos in 1987 has a progressive served as mayor, and his tenure ended four years later when he lost his re-election bid to Frank Jordan, the more conservative former police chief. The only progressive mayor before Agnos, George Moscone, was assassinated in 1978, three years into his first term.

Now, with Mayor Gavin Newsom, a San Francisco-style moderate, set to leave office in early January to become lieutenant governor, the Board of Supervisors can appoint his replacement to finish his last year.

"This is a golden opportunity for the progressives," said David Lee, a political science lecturer at San Francisco State University who heads the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. "Mayor is the holy grail of city politics. ... This is their moment."

At the same time, he said, the progressives must make sure the appointment isn't perceived as a raw power grab and end up alienating voters heading into next November's mayor's race.

I know out-of-towners will not believe this, but the last 3 mayors have been relatively conservative. That's as compared to the loons who have run against them, of course. But, it's true that there hasn't been a real leftist mayor since Art Agnos' term ended in 1992, and for good reason. Agnos was a terrible mayor who let the homeless run wild at Civic Center (and everywhere else downtown) and had a hard time figuring out how to clean up after the 1989 earthquake. Also, I seem to recall Agnos decreed that the buses would not be cleaned, so as to save water during a drought. He really was the Jimmy Carter of mayors. Since then, we've had a series of business friendly mayors who have supported the sort of development that have improved life in the City, but which the City's left never fails to oppose.

San Francisco leftists are like leftists everywhere. They can never get everything they want thanks to dark reactionary forces that thwart the will of the People - never mind that the People have never demonstrated any great appreciation for socialism. But, give the City's left an inch and they'll take the mayor's office for a year with God knows what results. Rent controlled doghouses? A 90% increase in the hotel tax? Illegal aliens voting in local elections? (not a joke. this was an initiative on the City ballot this year). A year is a long time when you are out to cause mischief, and progressive "achievements" have a funny way of taking on a life and mythology of their own.

UPDATE: unrelated, except for the "liberal Bay Area mayor" angle, Oakland's mayor-elect, Jean Quan, just got her car booted for unpaid parking tickets.

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