Going, Going, Gavin: What's Next For Newsom, City, State?

It's unlikely anyone has ever publicly announced he's taking a job so he can spend less time with his family. But countless folks turning in their resignation letters have chalked up the decision to jump ship to a desire to spend more time with the fam. Gavin Newsom joined that lengthy list today. And with his dead gubernatorial dreams still warm, the politicos on SF Weekly's speed dial speculated about what comes next for Newsom, San Francisco, and the governor's race.

One of the "wild rumors" Newsom has spent much time angrily dismissing -- along with the rumors he'd quit the governor's race shortly after the birth of his child, which turned out to be way off base -- was that he'd turn his flailing campaign for the top job into a more realistic shot at the lieutenant governor's seat. It's hard to rush off into a new political race moments after claiming your exit from your last race was undertaken so you could be a better father and mayor. But -- that's what politicians do.

Still, can you name our current Lt. Gov.? With the exception of Gray Davis, the position hasn't exactly served as the threshold to greatness -- and that may be the first sentence in which the terms "Gray Davis" and "greatness" were ever juxtaposed. For every Davis, there are many Garamendis, Bustamantes, and Leo McCarthys.

"I think it would be a mistake [to run for Lt. Gov.] ... if he's looking at his future," said political consultant Jim Ross, who ran Newsom's 2003 mayoral campaign. Yet Ross' opinion was far from unanimous. "I wouldn't be surprised if there's a deal in place for him to be lieutenant governor," said another Ross, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. For Newsom to drop out was "an astute decision -- but not one that was made in a vacuum."

When we asked Mirkarimi if he liked it better when Newsom was out of town politicking or in town politicking, he laughed: "Good question."

"It'd be greedy of me to say I only like it when he's here and we agree," said the supe. "It's important for the citizenry to have the undivided attention of the board of supervisors and the mayor. It's important for all hands to be on deck."

That being said, Mirkarimi wasn't certain the ostensible return of Newsom would change much around City Hall. "In the mayor's eyes, he's never stopped, and he's mayor 24 hours a day. But I think the apex of his governing was felt before his re-election."

With Newsom again skulking about the halls of City Hall, the question is raised: Will more candidates jump into the gubernatorial race? Former State Senator and city Supervisor Carole Migden thinks so. She thinks Rep. Jane Harman -- who is well-known in her native Southern California and independently wealthy -- or someone else from Southern California might make the jump. It also warrants mentioning that State Treasurer Bill Lockyer has more money than God right now.

Still, Jude Barry, a San Jose-based consultant who ran Steve Westly's gubernatorial campaign, didn't foresee anyone getting in Jerry Brown's way on the race to the Democratic nomination. "It's too late and the hill is too high."

Finally, Eric Jaye -- the mayor's former longtime Svengali who testily parted ways with Newsom in July  -- said he didn't see this in political terms, but parental:"Every parent in San Francisco understands this decision. They understand what happens when a child is born. In a good way, they cause you to focus on your priorities." 

SF Weekly managing editor Will Harper and staff writer Ashley Harrell contributed to this report.
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