Election 2010: SF's season of political madness


You can draw -- or not draw -- all sorts of conclusions about the meaning of last night's national election, but I can tell you what the state and local results mean: A season of political madness. As of the first week in January, San Francisco will have a new mayor and (probably) a new district attorney, and neither will be elected by the voters. And if some pundits are correct and Nancy Pelosi decides to retire rather than taking a seat on the back bench, then a once-in-a-lifetime change to take a safe seat in Congress will open up. And man, will the mad scramble be on.

Gavin Newsom will be sworn in as lt. governor the same day that Kamala Harris (if her lead in the polls holds) will be sworn in as attorney general. In theory, that means Board President David Chiu will become acting mayor -- with the authority to appoint a new district attorney. That's if Harris doesn't step down a day early, allowing Newsom to appoint her replacement. Deals are being offered and tossed around already (and one of the interesting elements is that Chiu has always been interested in the D.A.'s job -- which would open up not only the board presidency but his D3 seat.)

Then the current board members will have five days before their terms end to choose a new mayor by majority vote (except that no supervisor can vote form him or herself), and in the meantime, Chiu will be both acting mayor and board president. If the supes can't make a decision, the new board -- and we still don't know who will be on that board -- will get a chance to elect both a new board president (and acting mayor) and a new mayor.

And to make it more complicated, a number of the people being looked at for the mayor's job -- and some of the people who plan to run for mayor next November -- would also be very interested in Pelosi's seat.

This election isn't over yet -- but already, I promise you, the talks are on and everyone's thinking about the deal.

It's going to be crazy -- and it also offers progressives a rare change to reshape city politics. No matter what happens with the D6 and D10 races, progressives will hold the board majority. If they can work together -- thinking about the larger agenda, not just their personal egos -- this could turn out very well indeed.