The Phil Ting for Assembly campaign is under way

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Just a few days after the race for mayor of San Francisco ended, Assessor-Recorder (and mayoral candidate) Phil Ting began his next campaign -- for state Assembly.

The Westside district now represented by Fiona Ma opens up in 2012, when Ma will be termed out. And Ting was moving to set himself up as the frontrunner almost as soon as the ink had dried on on the final results from the mayoral election (where he finished a disappointing 11th, behind even Green Party candidate Terry Baum). Philting.com, which had been the official website for Phil Ting for Mayor, has been switched over to Phil Ting for state Assembly. I got an email Dec. 7 inviting me to a reception for his Assembly campaign; several prominent local politicians told me Ting had called even earlier than that to ask for support.

And he's getting it -- both state Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano are on his already-impressive list of endorsments.

Which is no surprise: The 12th District (which will become the 19th under the new redistricting) is the more conservative side of San Francisco, and by the standards of the state Assembly, Ting would be a pretty solid progressive. He actually understands tax policy, and he's made a huge issue of removing the commercial property loophole from Prop. 13.

So now comes the interesting part: Who's going to run against him?

Ting has a relatively cordial relationship with Mayor Ed Lee, and didn't spend much time in the campaign attacking the appointed incumbent. He's a former executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, where Lee worked in his early days as a tenant and civil-rights lawyer. There shouldn't be any reason for the mayor or his pals to try to drum up a candidate to take on Ting ... or should there?

Ting is not an enemy of the Willie Brown-Rose Pak folks. But he's not a loyal ally, either. The most obvious conservative/pro-downtown candidate, one the mayor and his big-business pals could count on, would be Sup. Carmen Chu. I couldn't get her on the phone, but in the past she's been only lukewarm about running. The other strong potential candidate would be Sup Sean Elsbernd, but he told me he's absolutely not running. "I was very interested during my first few years on the Board, but since my son was born, there's no way I would consider it," he said. "I am not a candidate and shouldn't be talked about as a candidate."

So will we see a "Run, Carmen, Run" campaign? Or will Brown and Pak think about it and realize that giving the mayor an appointment to Ting's office might be a real advantage? Would they rather control a state Assemblymember -- of the county assessor?

Stayed tuned to this one.