The case for a real mayoral race
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I made it through the week without anyone calling to complain about my analysis of the mayor's race, so maybe for once I got it right: unless Gavin Newsom drops out or a third strike drops and it's pretty bad, we already know what things are going to look like in the fall.
So we might as well get on with it: Matt Gonzalez and Ross Mirkarimi should get together and talk it out, then one of them should just go ahead and announce.
For a long list of reasons, there has to be a real mayor's race this fall and Tony Hall plus a few nutcases against Mayor Newsom doesn't count. The progressives need someone to rally around, to get the old troops out and in the streets and some new ones trained and energized. We need to keep Newsom on the defensive, to keep our issues out there, to hold him accountable not just to his donors but to the rest of the city.
Never discount what a good challenge can do: there are a lot of reasons why Sup. Bevan Dufty has moved a few steps to the left over the past few months, but one of them is absolutely the fact that he had a progressive candidate running against him in the fall.
Besides, I actually think Newsom can be defeated.
Just look at his record. Since he hasn't accomplished much of anything, he's vulnerable on almost everything. Other than same-sex marriage, his major legacy at this point seems to be trying to hand out the city's information technology infrastructure to Google and EarthLink. Go team.
And the city's two leading Greens both have a distinct advantage at this point nobody is going to accuse them of jumping into the race to take advantage of Newsom's personal problems. Long before city hall got all steamed up, Mirkarimi and Gonzalez were talking about running on the issues.
Gonzalez can raise a lot of money. Mirkarimi has done something few progressives ever pull off: turning public safety into one of our top issues. Like almost all candidates, they both have strengths and weaknesses, but in the end, it looks like one of them is going to be our contender this fall, and that's not at all a bad thing.
We went after District Attorney Kamala Harris a couple weeks ago when she tried to make some changes in the pretrial diversion program that would have cut back on its effectiveness. Harris did the right thing; she and Public Defender Jeff Adachi reached an agreement that preserved the best of the program, which tries to steer first-time misdemeanor offenders into counseling and out of the criminal justice system.
Harris didn't have to do that; the program is entirely under her control, and she could have told Adachi (and us) to take a hike and done it her way. But she showed that she's a reasonable DA who is willing to listen.
Now, however, the thugs at the Police Officers Association are attacking her for her willingness to include misdemeanor noninjury assaults on cops as crimes that are eligible for diversion. (This is typically stuff like someone spitting at an officer or brushing against him or her during an arrest. We're not talking about serious assaults here.)
Harris is standing up to the POA, but the rest of the city, including the mayor, needs to get behind her. *