Why Gonzalez didn't run

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matgon.doc

By Tim Redmond

So it looks as if there won't be much of a mayor's race this fall after all. I know that Matt Gonzalez took a hard look at it; he met with a good campaign consultant, talked to possible supporters and donors, took a poll ... and decided that he wasn't going to win.

Gonzalez didn't want to run a symbolic campaign. He didn't want to do what Tom Ammiano did in 1999 -- galvanize the left, build a movement, and fall short of dethroning a powerful incumbent. Gonzalez felt like he did that once, and if he was going to enter the race, he wanted to know there was a real chance of victory.

But Gonzalez has been out of politics for a couple of years, and has dropped a bit off the political radar. His "maybe-I-will-maybe-I-won't" game over the past six months has demoralized a lot of possible supporters. And he couldn't come up with a plan to crack Gavin Newsom's teflon: The early numbers had him losing, 60-20.

It's too bad. I still think that if Gonzalez had started early, say back in January, we might have had a real race. I understand his frustration: No matter how badly Newsom screws up -- Muni's a mess, the murder rate is soaring, he slept with a staffer who was married to his good friend -- the mayor remains almost impossibly popular.

That, I think, could change with a real candidate challenging him -- but it won't be Matt Gonzalez. So it's time to start thinking about the Board of Supervisors in 2008.