If they can’t draft Ed Lee, can they write him in?

Sarah Phelan

Courtroom Connect President and former Goldman Sachs employee Michael Breyer sent out an email today, in which he stated that hundreds of San Franciscans are calling for Ed Lee to run for Mayor in November.  

“Over 1,000 fans have joined a Facebook page to support the ‘Draft Ed Lee’ campaign in an effort to persuade Ed Lee to jump into the Mayor’s race,” he wrote.

Asked why he is getting involved in an effort that Enrique Pearce of Left Coast Communications is already working and consultants Michael Yaki and Jim Gonzalez are also hammering, Breyer, who was appointed to the Library Commission by Mayor Gavin Newsom, said, “We wanted to have a broad effort with hundreds and hundreds of San Franciscans hopefully making a statement that they want the mayor to run in November. I think that’s the most likely way the mayor would consider running.”

“So, my hope is that he’ll be convinced,” continued Breyer, who filed to run in the 2010 D2 Supervisor’s race and lists Newsom’s wife Jennifer Siebel, who just gave birth to a baby boy named Hunter, among his Facebook friends.

“Ed Lee didn’t want to be mayor in the first place,” Breyer observed. “He’s a civil servant in the true sense: it’s not what he would want, but it’s what’s in the best interests of the city. We want someone with a cooperative approach. He’s been going everywhere and getting input from all these groups. You may disagree with him, but he’s being honest. He doesn’t want to cut city services, but he needs to deal with these deficits.”

Asked how Lee differed from Newsom, who appointed Breyer to the Library Commission in 2010, Breyer said, “The Lt. Governor is someone who has brilliant ideas, definitely someone who has left his mark on the city. And it’s not in contrast to Newsom in particular, but in contrast to what people are used to from political leaders. Lee is not someone like Dianne Feinstein, Willie Brown or Gavin Newsom. He’s much more low-key.”

All this Lee praise is doubtless turning the stomachs of all the (it’s now up to 36) candidates who have officially thrown their hats in the ring and are consequently spending each and every moment of their lives campaigning. As one of them, who shall remain nameless, told me upon hearing the Chronicle praise Lee, yet again, for his compromise/ unity-building performance, “It’s such a crock of shit!”

Their point being that if Lee was to officially declare his intention to run, the “City Family” myth would instantly be blown to smithereens, as folks would be required to pledge their allegiance to Lee—or the other candidates’ camps. Because, let’s face it, when you get down to it, it’s pretty tribal down at City Hall.

But Breyer wasn’t convinced that Lee would be getting a bumpier reception had he officially declared. “My experience is that, across the board, people think he’s been a good mayor. It’s remarkable. In part it’s because he’s a great manager,” he said. “And I don’t think he wants to be mayor, so he doesn’t have the personal ambition, but I do hope he does it, because he cares about the city. And I don’t think he is going to change who he is. Maybe he was appointed as interim mayor, but he’s demonstrated great leadership capabilities. So, even if the intent was that he was going to be interim, he’s doing a great job, and I hope we will do what we can to encourage him to run.”

And then Breyer repeated a quote he gave to the Chronicle today, stating, “You don't pinch hit for someone who's hit three home runs in a game."

Meanwhile, Kevin Birmingham, a commenter on Breyer’s drafted.lee site , explores the possibility of recruiting Lee as a write-in candidate.
“Edwin Mah Lee is the 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, come November let’s extend his employment.” says the commenter, whose post links to a  “Write-in Ed Lee for Mayor” Facebook page. “It’s hard to get excited about any of the candidates running for mayor. For the most part they are career politicians. Our last career politician left us high and dry and used us as a stepping stone for Sacramento.”

“Why Ed Lee? Cause I like him. He has the Cities (sic) best interest at heart and has been a great asset so far. Why would we want any of the other candidates beside him? For once, let’s say no to career politicians and say YES to a hard worker. He also has a fantastic moustache!”

Now, if Lee were to be drafted as a write-in, he’d be following in the shoes of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, whose last-minute jump into the mayor’s race in 1999 forced Willie Brown into a run-off.

According to the good folks at the San Francisco Elections Department, there is a write-in process. But it involves the candidate signing nomination papers—otherwise Mickey Mouse, whose name regularly gets entered into the write-in spot, could end up being elected as mayor, instead.

Anyways, between Sept. 12 and Oct. 25, anyone can come down to the Elections Department, which is housed in the basement of City Hall, and pick up paperwork. They still have to circulate a nomination petition, but all it takes is between 20 and 40 signatures.

Hell, if Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski could manage to get enough of Alaska’s 710,231 residents to spell her name correctly and overcome the opposition of the Tea Party and Sarah "Keep her on the motorbike and out of the White House" Palin, and become the first Senate candidate in more than 50 years to win a write-in campaign, then Lee, whose name is considerably easier to spell, definitely has a chance of convincing enough of San Francisco’s 805, 235 residents to write-in his name this fall. But the question—and I know it haunts the main contenders—remains: Is Lee, deep in his heart, really open to the idea? Or is this just wishful thinking on the part of those who shoe horned Lee into the job in the first place?



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