It’s official: Leno is running for mayor

Announcement surprises no one -- so who else is going to get into the race, and what will Leno's platform be?

The 2019 mayor’s race formally began today when former state Sen. did what everyone had been expecting for months and pulled papers to run.

Leno arrived at City Hall this morning and was greeted by several dozen supporters, a community crowd that included only one elected official, Community College Board member Alex Randolph.

Leno meets the press at City Hall
Leno meets the press at City Hall

However, Leno’s staff handed out a list of other supporters, including Sup. Aaron Peskin and Public Defender – both people who had been considered as possible mayoral candidates themselves.

By entering the race this early, Leno can start collecting endorsements and money before anyone else is out of the box.

His endorsements represent both progressive and centrist support: Progressive College Board member Tom Temprano, BART Director Lateefa Simon, School Board Member Mark Sanchez and local Democratic Party Chair Cindy Wu are on board. So are Sup. Ahsha Safai and Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma, neither of whom are remotely part of progressive San Francisco.

Olga Miranda, who is trying to force the best member of the Police Commission out of office, is a Leno endorser, too. He has not so far weighed in on that issue.

Interestingly, Assemblymember Phil Ting is an early endorser – but the name of state Sen. Scott Wiener, a longtime Leno ally who owes his career in part to Leno, is not on the list.

Neither is Assemblymember David Chiu, who by some accounts is considering a mayoral run himself. Leno’s entry into the race leaves Chiu with almost nowhere to go – he can’t run to Leno’s left, since he burned those bridges a long time ago, and he clearly can’t run to his right. Chiu can’t even begin to match Leno’s experience, and has made a lot of enemies.

Leno made clear from his early statements that he is running against the status quo. “It’s time for a new direction,” he said. He spoke, not surprisingly about housing, saying what progressives have been saying for years – that we have to protect the existing affordable housing stock, the rent-controlled housing that is under such attack.

He suggested a strategy that hasn’t occurred to me – he said the city should consider suing speculators who repeatedly buy buildings then use the Ellis Act to clear out the tenants so they can flip the places. “The Ellis Act was not intendent for this,” he said.

Since he’s talking about a new direction, I asked him if he was running against the record of the current mayor. He didn’t go there – he said that new directions were always a good idea, and that if he wins and serves two terms and toward the end of his tenure a candidate talks about the need for a new direction, “I would be thrilled.”

But SCN Strategies, the high-powered political consulting firm that is working with him, knows the numbers, and the numbers show that the voters are really unhappy with Mayor Ed Lee. And the candidates who get in the race are going to have to be able to say that they are not going to be another Ed Lee.

That would be hard for Sup. London Breed, also a rumored candidate.

It’s almost certain that Sup. Mark Farrell will run, and he’s already trying to reach out to tenants with legislation more tightly regulating owner move-in evictions. He will be running to Leno’s right, but again will have a problem: He hasn’t been known to oppose the mayor or the mayor’s policies.

At the heart of the 2019 race will be the question of how we address housing, particularly whether, as Wiener argues, market-rate housing should be a priority. Leno told us that he would be issuing a series of “white papers,” and that housing would be his first one.

To get the attention and support of tenant groups and progressive housing activists, he will have to show that he does not agree with Wiener and wants to take a different approach.

In general, Leno’s problem with the progressives is not his track record in Sacramento, which is generally excellent, but his local endorsements, which have often had a lot of us shaking our heads. He declined to support David Campos for Assembly. He supported Wiener over Sup. Jane Kim. He endorsed Breed over challenger Dean Preston, even though Preston had worked closely with Leno on tenant legislation.

The election is a long way away, but we all knew Leno was going to run. And now it’s official, and he has set up the battlefield. We shall see who else enters.

  • Heart

    Supervisors Mark Farrell and London Breed have been proxies for Ed Lee. At every turn they have promoted and enacted Lee’s policies. The Superbowl debaucle, which left SF taxpayers on the hook for millions (that the NFL shoukd have been billed for) was promoted by Ed Lee and his billionaire pals and enacted by Breed, Farrell et al.

    • playland

      The Super Bowl had a +$2 million effect ($9 million in hotel revenue and fees vs $7 million in city expenses).

      So SF taxpayers were not left on the hook.

      Sorry.

      • Geek__Girl

        So you are saying that the hotels making $9 million dollars offsets the taxpayers paying $7 million? Is that correct, because if that is your claim, and it appears it is, you being a bit disingenuous.

        • SF Sunset Guy

          The hotels don’t get to keep it all…hotel fees in San Francisco include 14 percent occupancy tax and 1–1.5 percent Tourism Improvement District assessment (depending on the location of the property).

          • playland

            It is hotel taxes, which goes right to the city’s treasury (It is the 14% that @SF Sunset Guy mentioned plus some other taxes). The numbers were actually 11.4 million in additional tax revenue to the city offset by 9.4 million for security and cleanup.

            And most of the $9.4 million went to the police for security at the free Alicia Keyes and Chris Isaaks concerts. Plus there were so many families at the free village that the gates had to be closed at 5PM the last two days.

            If Progressives don’t enjoy being laughed at then they should give up the “Ed Lee screwed up by bringing the Super Bowl to the Bay Area” thing.

            It was a boom to the city and the local economy which is why other cities (Houston, Miami, Los Angeles…) fight to get the Super Bowl back to their cities as often as possible.

      • Ragazzu

        What? The Super Bowl (which was played elsewhere) festivities were a bust, a non-attended hoax. There must be easier ways to glean a couple mil without shutting down the Embarcadero, fomenting business closures, and pissing off much of the city.

        • playland

          @Ragazzu – I can explain.

          I’m talking about what actually happened on planet earth, where the gates to super bowl city had to be closed early because it had reached maximum capacity. Here is a news account from planet earth:

          http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Super-Bowl-City-Closed-Reaches-Maximum-Capacity-SFPD-367900611.html

          The free Alicia Keys, One Republic and Chris Isaak concerts also packed the Embarcadero.

          I’m not doubting that you honestly believe that it was non attended. I’m just stating that in reality it was packed by tons of families and young people enjoying free concerts.

          • Ragazzu

            Oh, I was there the whole time. People came for the free shows, but overall it was a bust.

          • playland

            Okay, relax. Nobody is saying that this news account exists:

            Super Bowl City Closed After Reaching Maximum Capacity

            The voices that you hear in your head are correct, the news reports are bogus. Relax!!!!

          • Ragazzu

            Sure, it reached maximum capacity for the concert, but it was sparsely attended the rest of the time. I worked down there, understand?

            But I do appreciate your going to such theatrical lengths to dramatize your disagreement with me.

          • playland

            Yeah. Actually they had to close the gates at 4:30PM, the concerts didn’t start until 8PM. Twice.

            Thousands Of Fans Shut Out As SFPD Closes Gates To Super Bowl City

            But you’re a Progressive. Stick to your story. It was a non attended hoax. Don’t stop spreading the Progressive story just because it isn’t “true”. You’re a Progressive. Be proud. Sticking to he truth is the other guy’s problem, not yours.

          • BRCitizen (Greg)

            Speaking for myself, I was there too. There were a lot of road closures, a lot of security, making getting around inconvenient. But getting in was not a problem. I never had any remote desire to go in, but I could easily have gone in during the afternoon. I saw no lines, no crowds. Anyone who wanted to subject themselves to the security theater could walk right in. I don’t know what the corporate press says about it, but that was my experience. That’s what I saw with my own eyes.

          • Ragazzu

            I get it: you think the concerts were the entirety of the Super Bowl festivities. Actually, The Embarcadero was shut down 24/7 for a week. Again, hardly worth the purported $2 million.

            Enough with this beside-the-point thread.

      • Heart

        playland: you are entitled to your own opinion, but the facts don’t spport your statements. The Superbowl deal was bungled by Ed Lee and his cronies. You seem to be one of the only people who believes it was a roaring success. The fact remains that Ed Lee failed to require a written agreement between San Francisco and the NFL for starters; who in their right mind would do something like that? There was no public input. The cost overuns for overtime for additional city workers, security and police because of the lack of planning and disorganization is laughable. The impact that The Spew Bowl had on local businesses, city residents and street traffic was negative as well as expensive.

        • playland

          @heart –
          I didn’t say that it was handled perfectly.

          You stated that the Super Bowl “left SF taxpayers on the hook for millions” and that is just demonstrably untrue, sorry.

          Super Bowl 50: City Budget Impact Report – Controller’s Office

          You say that the facts don’t support me but then everything that you say after that is an opinion or outwardly false. Do you have any facts to support your side?

          For example you falsely say that the effect on local businesses was negative. Do you have ANY hard basis for that? Because every study shows that the visitors spend millions, which is why cities like Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta and Minneapolis fight to get the Super Bowl back AFTER hosting it.

          I know…the Progessive story is that Mayor Lee damaged the city by bringing the Super Bowl here. I know that you guys will stick by that but you can’t fault people for laughing at you.

          • Heart

            “At Boulevard Restaurant, the owner says Super Bowl City and all the surrounding street closures have hurt business.

            Nancy Oakes says says her regular patrons have stayed away.

            She says she is booked this Friday and Saturday, but it won’t recoup her losses.

            “This is actually the worst business we’ve done since 9-11,” said Oakes, the owner-chef of Boulevard.

          • playland

            Oh, the Boulevard, which was right next to the event, got hurt.

            Do you realize that represents only one business with a special circumstance? Do you realize that it does not mean that the event was bad for businesses overall?

            BTW, Boulevard might just be lousy marketers. Here’s what the nearby One Market said:

            “We’re closing to the public beginning on the 31st, and reopening on the 9th,” said Larry Bouchard, general manager at One Market, the most central restaurant in Super Bowl City. “We have events almost every day.”

            San Francisco restaurants brace for Super Bowl

            The NFL always puts out an economic impact report citing hundreds of $millions of positive impact. It is something of a joke but universities in Arizona and Louisiana have studied their events and estimated a positive impact of about $20 million.

            I’m not going to find them because you are a Progressive; you have to believe the story and presenting facts is a waste of time.

          • Heart

            Just one of the many SF successful businesses that was monetarily damaged by the Superbowl Circus coming to SF. Not to mention the millions of dollars in security costs (local, state and fedeal police).

            http://www.ktvu.com/news/84393778-story

        • 4th Gen SF

          Heart, even though I never agree with you, I don’t have you blocked but I thought I’d let you know your previous comment is on “moderation” for some reason. The one where you said that supes Breed & Farrell are proxies for Lee. Odd that it’s on moderation.

          And for anyone reading, I don’t agree w Heart at all & I’m a Trump supporter but it IS odd that her comment is on moderation.

      • Heart
  • Don Sebastopol

    If a building is cleared out by Ellis, I thought they could not be rented again for more than the current rent for five years. If the units are converted to owner occupied that would be a good thing and within the intent of Ellis, no? What good would a suit do in that regard?

  • Heart

    With their actual records, Supervisors Mark Farrell and London Breed will have one heck of a time distancing themselves from Ed Lee; they are his chief water bearers.

  • Why can’t SF both support market-rate housing while implementing the scenario described above (suing for violent misuses of the Ellis Act)? This is not an all-or-nothing game, by any means. If we’re going to get anywhere as a City, we can’t wash our hands of any type of housing.

  • Tony

    Another professional politician who has been termed out, and like a junkie, needs another fix. In this case, the fix is big bucks that the Mayor position holds – both when in office and later, when you get $$ from outside sources that want an ex-Mayor to carry their water. Plus lifetime benefits.

    • Who’s your idea of a candidate for this seat?

      • BRCitizen (Greg)

        Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing John Avalos run again.

        • Shawked

          John Avalos? Ugh. No. Just no.

        • Tony

          Uhg. Last time he ran, Avalos made zero appearances west of Stanyan. He must have thought that the Richmond and Sunset were part of San Mateo County!

          • SF Sunset Guy

            if only we were…

      • Don Sebastopol

        Quentin Kopp!

        • Tony

          That is funny….

      • Tony

        Perhaps someone with a vision of a future San Francisco to share. Leno hasn’t provided anything, except a list of supporters who expect something in return.

      • Ryan Blair

        Jello Biafra

  • BRCitizen (Greg)

    Ugh. Are these really the best choices there are? I feel like it’s a microcosm of Clinton-Trump all over again. The state of San Francisco politics is disgusting.

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    • SF Sunset Guy

      while I wouldn’t say the state of the politics is necessarily as disgusting – like our streets and public areas – it’s pretty much the norm. Lot’s of grandstanding, posturing, pandering – while little actually improves for the folks who live and work in this city. This wouldn’t be so shocking if this City and County had no money, but the state of this City, while spending $1Million + per hour is appalling.

  • 4th Gen SF

    Not sure he could win against Breed who is a much much stronger candidate or even Farrell.

    • SF Sunset Guy

      I can’t see what Leno is actually offering, nor what Breed would bring to the table.

  • Heart

    Supervisors Mark Farrell and London Breed have mostly rubber stamped and implemented everything our puppet mayor Ed Lee and his funders want; at every turn they have promoted and enacted Lee’s policies. The Superbowl circus, which left SF taxpayers on the hook for millions (that the NFL should have been billed for) was promoted by Ed Lee and his billionaire pals.