Chris Cunnie running for sheriff?

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It appears that the race for San Francisco sheriff is about to get more competitive: Chris Cunnie, the former Police Officers Association president, the former undersheriff and chief district attorney investigator is getting close to deciding to run, numerous sources tell me.

I haven't been able to reach Cunnie directly, but he's been calling around to local political types and talking about the race, and several people close to him say he's about ready to make the jump.

Cunnie was widely expected to run when incument Mike Hennessey appointed him as undersheriff more than a year ago, but Cunnie left that job for personal reasons and appeared to have no interest in trying for the top position.

But he's apparently changed his mind, and he would be the third candidate in the race and likely to get more traction than Paul Miyamoto, a captain in the Sheriff''s Department who has no prior political experience.

At this point, however, Hennessey has already endorsed Ross Mirkarimi, who is by any account the front-runner. He's the only candidate with any electoral experience and he'll have the progressives united behind his campaign. Cunnie's time as the POA boss will hurt him on the left.

It's not clear why Cunnie has decided to enter the race, but I think it's safe to say that a lot of powerful people in this town are worried that Mirkarimi -- a stalwart progressive who happens to have been very involved in law-enforcement issues -- could wind up in a citywide office from which he might at some point seek to run for mayor. Cunnie would make it much safer for the more conservative types.