Ed Lee made the decision to run for mayor of San Francisco on Sunday evening. That’s what the mayor and his people are telling us, even as they reserved the MayorEdLee.com Web site on August 3, had a bevy of campaign and fundraising events lined up — the campaign raised its first $1,000 as of Wednesday, according to mandatory filings — for immediate impact and effect following the mayor’s decision, and in general prepared for a campaign kickoff… prior to having secured a candidate.
“Some of us came together — on our own — to have something in place to hit the ground running in case he decided to run,” said campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker, who told the Appeal that the email he sent Sunday night advising of Monday’s morning announcement was done as a volunteer.
“It was really only Sunday night when he [the mayor] said, ‘Guys, I’m in,'” Winnicker, who was last in the public eye as previous mayor Gavin Newsom’s spokesperson, said.
This, anyway — that Ed Lee took weeks to mull his decision, coming to it only on Sunday evening, at which point everything was conveniently ready to go, including a front-page interview in the Monday Chronicle — is the bill of goods San Franciscans are being sold.
But who’s going to buy it? And moreover, will it matter? “The voters will tell,” said an opposing consultant via email.
Those who see Ed Lee’s Monday announcement as contrived have a body of evidence. To wit:
Campaign Prepared Prior to Announcement
The MayorEdLee.com campaign Web site was reserved Wednesday, August 3, days before Lee had decided, according to his own admission. The decision by Lee’s campaign to employ DC-based Bullseye Interactive to design the site has, incidentally, raised some eyebrows, with local journalist Steve Rhodes asking “If (Lee) is all about creating tech jobs in San Francisco, why is his website by Washington DC’s Bullseye Interactive?”
Timed For Chinese Lucky Day
The first Chinese-American mayor in San Francisco history, Ed Lee’s first day as a political candidate was August 8, or 8/8. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture (the Beijing Olympics began on August 8, 2008, at the auspicious hour of 8 PM), and Ed Lee just happened to go after Chinese voters on the lucky day, scheduling a merchant walk on Irving Street in the Sunset District — the heart of state Sen. Leland Yee’s territory (Yee was the Sunset’s supervisor and west side voters are seen as his base).
Think the eight doesn’t matter? Recall that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency switched the numbering of the Bayshore Express bus from 9 to 8, many say for just this same reason.
Opposing Consultants Out of Picture Early
Pension reform’s been a key concern of Mayor Lee’s, but so have the proper political consultants for pension reform. In 2010, the No on B campaign recorded a nearly 20-point victory, after polls showed the pension reform measure winning by double digits.
That campaign was run by Stearns Consulting, who is managing Yee this cycle. The mayor’s staff has removed Stearns from consideration to run the counter campaign to Jeff Adachi’s “Son of B” pension reform measure, possibly as early as May.
Cops, Firefighters on Board Before Decision
As the San Francisco Examiner revealed this week, quietly included into the mayor’s pension reform measure is language that excludes the city’s public safety employees from wage concessions until 2015 if Adachi’s measure passes. City police and firefighters will have until 2013 to reduce their benefits packages if the mayor’s pension reform measure passes.
Just how on board are the police and firefighters? It was Police Officers Association head Gary Delagnes who on Thursday told reporters — not in so many words, but accurately, it turned out — that Ed Lee’s announcement was coming Monday.
Does Ace Smith Work on Spec?
Members of the Lee administration and current members of his campaign staff — including day-to-day campaign manager Bill Barnes, a former legislative aide to former supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier and Chris Daly — were seen exiting and entering the Sansome Street offices of strategist Averell “Ace” Smith throughout last week, according to the city’s political insiders.
Smith’s SCN Strategies has been retained as the campaign’s political consultants, and Smith — described by the LA Times as “the man to fear” and veteran of many campaigns far higher-profile than this one — is not known as the kind of person who would work for free, on spec, or otherwise unsure of a paycheck. So when, exactly, did SCN come on board? Neither Smith nor his firm responded to a request for comment, but many believe that the campaign was ready to go, prior to the candidate making a decision.
No opposing campaigns contacted for this story would comment on the record to the Appeal, but Joanna Rees (who incidentally employed Smith until he quit her campaign earlier this year) offered perspective on Monday. When asked if Ed Lee did indeed come to his decision organically, she said “I think all the facts point to that it is a no.”
The Lee campaign will not deny much of the above — indeed, the campaign defended the “just in case” preparations to the Appeal.
“There’s nothing wrong, when you’re going to make a decision like this, to think about it and start to plan,” said Winnicker on Monday following Ed Lee’s appearance at the Castro Theater.
“But I can tell you 100 percent he came to this decision over the weekend — we’ve been working nonstop the last 48 hours.”
Yet not before preparing in the days, weeks — and perhaps months — prior.