Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

It’s official: Gay former CA state Senator Mark Leno to run for SF mayor

Mark LenoGay former state Senator Mark Leno will formally announce his bid to become San Francisco’s first gay mayor Thursday morning at City Hall.

The Democrat has signaled for months that he would be a mayoral candidate in 2019, as Mayor Ed Lee is barred by term limits from running again.

A former city supervisor then state assemblyman, Leno was termed out of his state Senate seat in December, sparking speculation that he would seek to succeed Lee. On his Facebook page this afternoon (Wednesday, May 3) Leno posted, “Tomorrow, I will make a major announcement about my plans for the future.”

In a text message to the Bay Area Reporter, Leno, 65, confirmed that he would be pulling papers for the mayor’s race. He has invited supporters to join him at the elections department offices, Room 48 in the basement of City Hall, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

During an interview in November, Leno had told the B.A.R. that he was mulling over a mayoral bid and would make a decision by the end of 2017. He had said the main “question I am asking myself is what is meaningful to me, and what can I do to address that” should he be elected to Room 200 in City Hall.

After news broke in January that Leno had hired the political consulting outfit SCN Strategies – headed by Ace Smith, Sean Clegg and Dan Newman – it was all but certain that he was running for mayor. In February, during an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle’s 10 Questions feature, Leno further cemented his mayoral campaign plans with his response to the very first question.

“I am 100 percent sure that I will be running for Mayor of San Francisco in 2019 – as sure as I am that Hillary (Clinton) won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, that 3-5 million fraudulent votes were not cast and that this new president is a dangerous liar,” Leno said, referring to last year’s presidential race.

At the unveiling last month of the city’s renovated LGBT Community Center, which Leno helped lead the initial capital campaign for, and at the March dedication ceremony for Openhouse’s senior housing aimed for LGBT elders, Leno was introduced as the city’s next mayor at both events.

Well liked by his political colleagues, Leno has morphed over the years from being part of the city’s more moderate camp to now being embraced by progressives. He will be a formidable mayoral candidate, as he has extensive ties across the state that will allow him to tap into a vast donor network.

And he is sure to draw national attention within LGBT political circles as Leno is vying to become the leader of the U.S. city most often identified with the LGBT movement. None of the past out mayoral candidates have been successful, though gay former city and state lawmaker Tom Ammiano came the closest during his historic 1999 write-in campaign.

What is unclear is who will also enter the 2019 mayor’s race against Leno, who will be the first high-profile candidate to take out papers. Among moderates, the names most often floated include Supervisors London Breed, the current board president, and Mark Farrell, who represents the Marina, as well as state Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco.)

As for progressives, Supervisor Jane Kim tops the list, while rumors continue to swirl that Supervisor Aaron Peskin could run. Yet Peskin had told the B.A.R. in the fall he was encouraging Leno to run and would back his bid.

One wild rumor making the rounds is that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the minority leader, could jump into the race if Democrats do not take back the House in next year’s midterm elections.

Then there is Kara Swisher, a lesbian and co-founder of the San Francisco technology news website Re/code. Last year, she said she would enter the 2023 mayor’s race but in March suggested she could seek the office sooner.

— Matthew S. Bajko, May 3, 2017 @ 5:28 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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