Ed Lee’s Undeclared Campaign Already Taking Shape

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IS ED RUNNING AND HIRING?: Mayor Ed Lee is about to become a first time candidate. He has already been meeting with consultants and we can expect more musical chairs among the political consultants working for the many candidates when Lee announces his campaign team. Last week mayoral candidate and ex-Supervisor Bevan Dufty announced his new campaign manager, Alex Tourk, who had been running City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s campaign until he resigned in early May. Guess which campaign Ed Lee’s new consultant used to work for…. 

TORPEDOES AWAY: As the new favorite to win November’s mayor’s race, an array of political figures is directly and indirectly opening fire on Lee. Mayoral candidates – City Attorney Herrera and Board of Supervisor President David Chiu – collaborated with each other last Thursday by initiating a joint statement co-signed by mayoral contenders: State Senator Leland Yee (whose campaign manager Jim Stearns reminded Lee about his promise not to run in a video), former Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier and entrepreneurJoanna Rees. All five candidates are demanding a probe into Run Ed, Run’s backers…PESKIN FIRST: The statement came after SF Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin (Chiu’s predecessor and supporter for North Beach/Chinatown District 3 supervisor in 2008) had launched his letter to the SF Ethics Commission to investigate the relationship among $112 million city contractor RecologyChinese Chamber of Commerce’s Rose Pak and the Run, Ed Run campaign’s Progress for All, which is trying to draft Ed Lee to run for mayor. The Commission will examine the issue on August 8 … KOPP NEXT: Days later retired Superior Court Judge and former State Senator Quentin Kopp did the same with SF District Attorney George Gascon

WIN-WIN FOR CHIU: Considering Herrera is City Attorney and Chiu’s a former Assistant DA, the two attorneys know something about election law. A win-win situation shaping for Chiu: He wins and he becomes mayor. Chiu loses but helps Herrera become mayor – a City Attorney appointment maybe in the offing as discussed here last week…

OUT OF ROSE’S GARDEN: By co-writing the statement with Herrera, Chiu has written off some major allies and former colleagues in the APA community. Ironically, Chiu was Chinatown Community Development Center’s board chairman where he earned his “affordable housing” credentials. Progress for All was led by Gordon Chin, the retiring director of CCDC, and Victor Hwang, SF District Attorney hate crimes prosecutor and former head of the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (formerly Nihonmachi Legal Outreach). Backing them allegedly with political and financial support was Rose Pak….

ROSE AND ART: Rose has been a major confidant helping increase APA representation in major policy posts with mayors like Willie Brown (1996-2004) and Art Agnos (1988-1992). Former Chinatown social worker and later Mayor Agnos worked with Pak on major APA appointments like current Chinese Hospital board president James Ho as Deputy Mayor – probably the highest APA appointees at the time (Ho’s also husband of former bank exec Doreen Woo Ho, a recent Mayor Lee appointment to the SF Port Commission). Agnos selected Asian Law Caucus managing attorney and future mayor Ed Lee to implement a whistleblower ordinance. Agnos also provided post-1989 earthquake relief in Chinatown after demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway artery…

ICEBERGS DEAD AHEAD: Chiu and Ed Lee, when he runs, are on a collision course seeking support from the APA non-profit housing and civil rights community, like attorney and College Board member Steve NgoAsian Law Caucus executive director Titi Liuand Chinese for Affirmative Action director and former SF Police Commissioner Vincent Pan and Angela Chan, current Police Commissioner and Asian Law Caucus staff attorney. Both Chiu and Lee have a major influence on non-profit and business contractor funding…

Supervisor Jane Kim

JANE’S MENTOR OR JANE’S FRIEND?: Chiu’s working relationship with District 6 (SOMA/Little Saigon) Supervisor Jane Kim will be delicate considering she like Chiu came up through the CCDC ranks, especially with incoming director Norman Fong. Kim, a former Chiu roommate, is one of the Board President’s strongest allies – both passed legislation to keep Twitter’s workforce in Kim’s District 6. Chiu has appointed Kim to “juice” committees like the Budget/Finance and Rules Committees. But Ed Lee has been Kim’s mentor in her rise in SF politics, even helping to land her a job at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Is Kim already in the process of breaking up with David to be with Ed? ….

FOURTH TIME THE CHARM?: Former assistant DA Bill Fazio is contemplating another run for District Attorney challenging appointed incumbent George Gascon. Fazio is the widower of Lepeti Tuitele Fazio, a member of Samoan royalty in America Samoa. She had died in a tragic March 2009 accident just days after her brother and Paramount Chief had passed away of natural causes. In 2010, Fazio won a seat on the SF Democratic Party’s central committee after three closely contested losses for District Attorney in 1995 and 1999 against eventual winner Terence Hallinan and then 2003 against incumbent Hallinan and Kamala Harris who went on to become DA and California Attorney General this year. Fazio served as criminal defense attorney in 2007 for Supervisor Ed Jew’scriminal and civil cases filed by the DA Harris and City Attorney Herrera…There’s no shame in losing three times, considering Hallinan himself ran twice before becoming SF Supervisor, including losing to Harvey Milk in 1977, the city’s first gay Supervisor…

VIETAM FOR DA: Meanwhile, Vu Trinh is likely the first Vietnamese American candidate for SF District Attorney. The criminal defense attorney advises the State Bar of California criminal law. The multi-talented and multi-racial Attorney General Kamala Harris was the first APA, Indian and African American elected to SFDA in 2003…


A weekly look at prognostications and prevarications on the Mayor’s intentions

With the countdown to the August 12 filing deadline, Mayor Ed Lee has changed his tone after more than six months of denying a run and desire a return to his old City Administrator’s position. Run Ed Run campaigns, rallies and more than 51,000 signatures are speaking the loudest now.

However, Lee and his supporters for the first time have faced a barrage of questions about how one Run Ed Run campaign committee was financed and supported.

Veteran campaign manager Johnny Wang of JKW Political Consulting said, “The longer he waits, the pressure for him to run will only increase as well as the temptation. I think he will run.”

The successful manager of a 2008 citywide measure restoring JROTC in public schools noted Lee has served SF well by being an administrator and less a politician especially during tough economic times. “He [has] focused on getting the job done and less on initiating grand plans or political posturing,” said Wang.

However, Wang like others has raised one of Lee’s thorny dilemmas, “He did promise not to run.”

“I would imagine there’s a mental ping-pong match ongoing,” said architect and savemuni.com Central Subway critic Howard Wong.“Running for public involves very personal factors, which vary from one person to another.”

But Lee will have to weigh personal considerations with his supporters.

“There are unknown promises and conditions [tied to his appointment as interim Mayor] and the influence exerted by those establishing those promises and conditions,” said Wong.

MISS ME?: Email Samson Wong at potsticker@prodigy.net.



About the Author

Veteran columnist has appeared in up to 450,000 households weekly in the SF Independent, Examiner (2000-04) and AsianWeek since 1996. As Editor-in-Chief (2003-07), AsianWeek and Samson received wide recognition from the California Legislature, New American Media, League of Women Voters, GLAAD, Organization of Chinese Americans, SPUR and APA civic groups. Thru the SF Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, SF Elections Task Force and Chinese American Voters Education Committee, Wong helped boost APA influence from 25,000 in the 1980s to over 50,000 voters by the early 1990s.