If Newsom wins, San Francisco will get a new mayor a year early — and the district-elected Board of Supervisors will choose the person to fill out the last year of Newsom's term. Technically, the current board will still be in office then, but the task may well fall to the next board — which makes the local November elections even more important.
"Everyone is gaming this out and trying to figure out what happens," political consultant Alex Clemens said during a post-election wrap-up at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association office. "There will be a lot of dominoes to fall and deals to be cut."
Meanwhile, Newsom's nomination for lieutenant governor places many San Franciscans in an uncomfortable position, one that was illustrated well by Newsom's victory speech, in which he proudly rejected taxes. Although most San Francisco progressives are disenchanted with their fiscally conservative mayor, few would rather vote for Maldonado.
Tim Paulson, the SF Labor Council president, was at the Newsom event gritting his teeth as he talked about the opportunity progressives now have to work with "a mayor of San Francisco we have issues with." Now, he noted, "There is going to be a real campaign around this man. It could establish a narrative for what California is about."
At Delancey Street on election night, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris talked about getting "tough and smart on crime," addressing gang-related criminal activity but also focusing on corporate criminals. She talked about cracking down on predatory lenders, supporting health care reform, and protecting California's environment. And she made a point of dragging in BP.
"It must be the work of the next attorney general to ensure that the disaster and tragedy that happened in the Gulf of Mexico never happens in California," she said, warning of attacks on AB 32, which set California's 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal into law in 2006.
Of course, Harris now has to take on her southern counterpart, Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley, who is a moderate but comes in with much stronger law enforcement support. If Harris wins, it will go a long way to prove that opposition to the death penalty isn't fatal in California politics, and that voters are finally ready for a women of color as the top law enforcement official — a first in state history.
But she and Newsom will both have to overcome likely attacks for the San Francisco's crime lab scandal, one of many hits to be magnified by the size of Whitman's war chest.
Whitman, who trounced opponent Steve Poizner in the primary, is riding the crest of a new wave of Republican-style "feminism," starring her, Fiorina, and Fox news pundit Sarah Palin as female champions of the right-wing agenda. A few short months ago, it looked as if Brown was in serious trouble. But that was before Whitman and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner got into an $85 million bloodbath that left the winner of the GOP primary badly wounded. Whitman wants to play off the populist uprising by portraying herself as an outsider running against a career politician; Poizner gave her a huge scare by hammering her ties to Goldman Sachs.
That Wall Street narrative is one Democrats will push against Whitman and Fiorina. "I think it is stunningly politically tone deaf to nominate two Wall Street CEOs to the top of the ticket," Newman said. Voters will decide whether they are fresh voices with new ideas or corporate hacks who laid off Californians and made fortunes with dubious stock market deals.