Supervisors survey the tricky path to Room 200
For example, Chiu is barred from even declaring publicly that he wants the job and describing how he might lead, although he is widely known to be in the running.
The board can't officially name a new mayor until the office is vacant. Sup. Bevan Dufty, who is already running for mayor, told us the board should wait for Newsom to act. "I felt the resignation should be in effect before the board makes a move," Dufty said.
Sups. Sean Elsbernd, Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Eric Mar did not return the Guardian's calls for comment.
PIECES OF THE PUZZLE
Adding to the drama of the mayoral succession decision will be the new Board of Supervisors' inaugural meeting on Jan. 8, when the first order of business will be the vote for a new board president, who will also immediately become acting mayor if the office has been vacated by then and the previous board hasn't chosen a new mayor.
While Newsom and his downtown allies are clearly banking on the hope that the new board will select a politically moderate caretaker mayor, something that three of the four new supervisors say they want (see "Class of 2010," Dec. 8), the reality is that the new board will have the same basic ideological breakdown as the current board and some personal relationships that could benefit progressives Chiu and Avalos.
Daly said downtown is probably correct that the current board is more likely than the new one to directly elect a progressive mayor who might run for the office in the fall, such as Campos or former board President Aaron Peskin. But he thinks the new board is likely to elect a progressive as president, probably Campos, Chiu, or Avalos, and that person could end up lingering as acting mayor indefinitely.
"They really haven't thought through Jan. 8. Downtown doesn't like to gamble, and I think it's a gamble," Daly said. "There's a decent chance that we'll get a more progressive mayor out of the leadership vote for board president."
Avalos said it "would be a disaster" for the board president to linger as acting mayor for a long time, complicating the balance of power at City Hall. But he wouldn't mind holding the board gavel. "I think I would do a good job as board president, but I'm not going to scratch and claw my way to be board president," Avalos said. "I'd be just as happy to be chair of the Budget Committee again."
Avalos said he thinks it's important to have a mayor who is willing to work closely with board progressives and to support new revenues as part of the budget solution, which is why he would be willing to support Chiu, Campos, or Mirkarimi for mayor, saying "All of them could do a good job."
Given the progressive majority on the board, it's also possible that there will be a lingering standoff between supporters for Chiu, a swing vote in budget and other battles who has yet to win the full confidence of all the progressive supervisors, and former Mayor Art Agnos, who has offered to serve as a caretaker. Some see Agnos as more progressive than the other alternatives pushed by moderates, including Sheriff Michael Hennessey and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission head Ed Harrington.
Moderates like Dufty are hopeful that a couple of progressives might break off to support Hennessey ("From the first minute, he knows everything you'd need to know in an emergency situation," Dufty said) or Harrington ("I could see him stepping in and closing the budget deficit and finding a good compromise on pension reform," Dufty said) after a few rounds of voting.