If the Matier and Ross report in the San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 11 is to believed, then Mayor Gavin Newsom is actually taking his alcohol problem seriously. Mimi Silbert, who runs Delancey Street, told the dynamic duo that Newsom has been showing up every night for three or four hours of intense counseling and therapy. Good for him. If his problem is bad enough that he needs that much help, he'd probably be better off taking some time away from work, but I'm not him, and at least he's trying.
Or so they say.
Of course, if the whole "treatment" thing is just an attempt to gain sympathy from the public and take the story away from his sordid affair, I suspect Newsom's visits to Delancey Street will start to taper off fast in which case a lot of people who have friends and family who truly have struggled with alcoholism will be properly pissed at his honor the mayor.
It's going to sound like a cliché at this point, but I kinda think it's true enough to make it our mantra for the fall: Newsom has been doing a rotten job of late, and if his personal problems are to blame for that, then he needs to get the hell out of politics until he's a lot stabler, and if his personal problems aren't to blame, then he's just a weak and lame mayor. Either way, four more years doesn't work.
Which brings us to the real question that was on everyone's mind at the Guardian's 40th anniversary party last week: who?
Let me throw out some thoughts.
I'll start with the wild card. There isn't one. I see nobody hiding in the bushes who can run as a progressive and mount a serious campaign. We've got what we see. (Don't talk to me about Art Agnos; the guy would have to enter a political 12-step, make a lot of amends, and admit all the things he did wrong as mayor last time around, and it ain't happening.)
So here's Scenario One: Newsom toughs it out, nothing else awful drops, and he stays in the race. Honestly, very few people are going to challenge him. Not Mark Leno, not Carole Migden, not Dennis Herrera, not Aaron Peskin. They don't want to look like they're exploiting Newsom's personal problems, so they all wait four years.
So the left candidate is Ross Mirkarimi or Matt Gonzalez. If Gonzalez wants it, Mirkarimi steps out of the way. That could set up Matt vs. Gavin, round two, with Gonzalez as the candidate of the left and the Residential Builders Association, leaving people like me (who think land use is supremely important) tearing our hair out. And let's remember that Jack Davis, the political mastermind, is going to be a player this time, and it won't be with a loser like Tony Hall.
Scenario Two: Newsom decides, for whatever reason, to withdraw and it's a free-for-all. Gonzalez is suddenly not the leading candidate; that's probably Leno, Herrera, or, on the outside, Kamala Harris. Which leaves the progressives with a sticky choice: stay with Gonzalez or accept someone who on paper (and on the record) is more centrist but will promise a whole lot to get our support and could be the odds-on favorite.
Throw in public financing and ranked-choice voting, and the election's going to be like nothing there ever was in this town. I can't wait. *