Backroom meetings precede today's mayoral succession vote

Who will succeed Gavin Newsom in Room 200?
Ben Hopfer

There's been a flurry of political speculation and backroom discussions leading up to today's final meeting of the current Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to consider appointment of a successor mayor to Gavin Newsom starting at 3 p.m., despite Newsom's refusal to vacate the office and assume the duties of lieutenant governor as he was supposed to yesterday.

After Kamala Harris took her oath of office as attorney general yesterday, Newsom now has the power to appoint a new district attorney, which he's likely to wrap into his efforts to thwart progressive supervisors from appointing an interim mayor of their liking. So all eyes are on Newsom, as well as Board President David Chiu, and sources tell the Guardian that the two men met this morning behind closed doors.

Could Newsom appoint Chiu as the new DA in exchange for his support on naming a moderate as caretaker mayor? That possibility has progressives bristling with anger and privately threatening to aggressively go after Chiu if he cuts that kind of deal. The other way that Chiu might earn the progressive wrath is if he cuts a deal to become interim mayor that involves lots of support from the moderates.

But it's also possible that most board progressives would back Chiu for interim mayor, although Sup. David Campos has so far been the most reluctant among progressives to support Chiu, who generally votes with progressives but who has cut a few high-profile deals with Newsom. Sup. Chris Daly told us that he will nominate Aaron Peskin for interim mayor today and Sup. Ross Mirkarimi is backing Art Agnos, who appears to have five votes but probably not six. The moderates are likely to push for Sheriff Michael Hennessey, although Newsom's stated hope that the board consider his Chief of Staff Steve Kawa is a fantasy that only Newsom is seriously entertaining.

So far, Chiu and his people have been playing their cards fairly close to their vests, so it will be high drama going into today's meeting. But what happens today is anyone's guess, with the possibilities ranging from a deal to name a new mayor and DA to another anticlimactic punt of the decision on to the next board, which will be sworn in this Saturday.

Stay tuned.


Tell Gavin Newsom to get to work doing the job California voters elected him to do!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

But I think many of the silent majority in this City would prefer the new Board to pick the interim Mayor, since they will have to work with the new Mayor to implement his plan.

While the same complaints about Newsom for not being willing to move on could equally be raised at the four departing supervisors who also should not be trying to wield power as they walk out the door.

It's a big decision. Let's not rush it. And let's have the right people decide it.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

Without stating the obvious, this is a blog about politics. I would expect nothing less than hot air and speculation. Were you honestly expecting more?

Posted by Sean on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

"While the same complaints about Newsom for not being willing to move on could equally be raised at the four departing supervisors who also should not be trying to wield power as they walk out the door."

Let's apply this principle to the commissioner appointments that Newsom is trying to wield as he walks out the door. It's a big decision. Let's take our time and leave it to the new mayor and new board to evaluate.

I might also agree with you on the subject of the mayoralty itself, except that Newsom is supposed to be gone ALREADY. The swearing in should have been January 3rd, so Newsom should have no say whatsoever. If the old board picks the mayor, that's none of his business.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 2:29 pm


I think this whole situation comes about because these swearing-in's happen on slightly different timescales.

If the State, County and City all held their switchovers on the same day, I don't think we'd see these machinations. So I can understand why Newsom is holding off. Apparently he took legal advice that the January 3 date is not set in stone.

So I don't like it either, but the system makes it thus. Over and above that, whether you support the Mayor's delay depends more on one's ideology than anything else. If this were a progressive mayor and a conservative BOS, you just KNOW that the SFBG would be singing the opposite song.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

but the "progressives" have lost all credibility when it comes to the rules so who cares what they have to say, its all about getting over.

SF progressives complaining about Newsom scheming is pathetic after ten years of scheming.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

If Chiu were to go for D.A., he'd be going against the advice ocity hall insiders who believe he has a good shot of becoming interim mayor, as outlined in the Guardian's coverage :


Posted by sarah on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

And the office of the mayor IS NOT vacant. So all the machinations of the board are in vain - and they know it.

Poor progressives - outwitted by Gavin Newsom once again. This man has consistently beaten The Guardian and the "progressive movement" again and again - despite your shrill claims that he's an "empty suit." If this is what an "empty suit" looks like I'd hate to see of what your estimation of a genius consists.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

I agree with Lucretia. SInce the attorneys' stated that Gavin is still mayor and therefore there is no vacancy, why is this board choosing an interim mayor?

I assume the new board could overturn it after Gavin is sworn in as Lt. Gov. on Saturday night or thereafter, but maybe the thinking from this board is to get their preferred pick in place making it a bit harder for the new board to overturn it.

Although you can't blame Chiu if he is offered - and accepts - the DA position, or Mirkirimi if he's offered - and accepts - the Sheriff position, either move will further strengthen the hand of the mayor and his staunchest downtown supporters, especially in the case of Mirkirimi. D5 is a seat that progressives must keep to have any sort of poltical power and if Gavin Newsom gets to appoint a more moderate person in D5 - who will have a big advantage as an inciumbant - then I think Mirkirimi has really failed the progressive community. Same concern for any D3 replacement, which has also been a very important seat in the last 10 years for progressive ideals.

But the best part of the meeting so far is Beven asking for a 20 minute recess.

First call: "Gavin, what should I do?"

Second call: "Campaign manager, what should I do?"

Too funny.

And kudos to Daly for exposing Dufty and his obviously false statement that he was only going to vote no the *first* round. I'm pretty sure I heard four nos from Dufty on the second round too. So much for keeping your word.

And Sophie voted "yes" for Peskin! This is the choice I wish the progressives - namely Mar, Avalos, Campos, Daly and Chui and Maxwell would now rally around. He's the kind of interim mayor San Francisco needs right now. Someone who will kick some serious butt to make the changes to start to undo seven years of neglect by Gavin.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

There's no debating Serriff Hennessey's amazing career and support throughut San Francisco. Of all the interim choices I've heard, he stands at the top in so many categories.

But if I were one of the progressive supervisors voting, I'd be very concerned that if Hennessey is voted in as interim mayor, then there is a good possibility Mirkirimi would be offered the Sherriff position by Gavin and that he'd take it. (Nice lifetime job - good work if you can get it.) But if Newsom gets to appoint a D5 replacement for Ross, then it's game over. Set. Match. Game. Downtown, the real estate lobby and Gavin's biggest supporters win, hands down if they can get access to the D5 seat.

I hope Daly will save some of his (unpleasant, almost childish) anger towards Mirkirimi that he just displayed against Chiu if the scenario outlined above develops.

I still like Peskin as the best choice, but regardless of how it turns out, David Chiu seems to be the type of potential city-wide winning candidate who can help progressives get a seat at the table and I don't see the other progressive candidates for mayor having a chance of winning in November.

I noticed that it appears neither Campos nor Avalos is enamourded with Chiu - and I generaly trust their judgement the most of all of the supervisors - but I'd sure like to know who they like better for November that has a chance of winning. And I'd like to know if either one is carrying water for any of the city unions who may not want Chiu so at least I understand their point of view better during this selection process.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 9:45 pm

the guardian and peskin were warned about chiu. yet they endorsed him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

I saw that the first time I met Chiu and I did some research, what I came up with was Rose Pak.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 06, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

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