I’m not going to tell Ed Lee he can’t run for mayor. I know he promised he wasn’t going to. I know that if he hadn’t made that promise, he wouldn’t have had the six votes to win the office. I think Lee believed at the time that he didn’t want to run in November, and he may believe it now.
But this is still a democracy, and if Lee thinks the situation has changed and he’s the only person who can properly lead the city over the next four years, he ought to put his name forward.
Right now, though, he’s allowing the “draft Ed Lee” movement to get out of control.
Chinatown powerbroker Rose Pak and political consultant Enrique Pierce (who runs the clearly misnamed Left Coast Campaigns and loves to tout his progressive credentials) have set up an office, are raising money, and have hatched this plan to get Lee to agree to put his name on the ballot and not actively campaign.
The operation — which, let’s remember, carries Ed Lee’s name on it — has already run afoul of the law. The Ethics Commission — hardly an aggressive political watchdog — says the campaign had improperly filed as a political action committee. That’s not Lee’s fault — he has nothing to do with this. But it already taints his reputation.
Lee, by all accounts, has done a far better job with the budget than his immediate predecessor. He’s actually been talking to people. He listens; he accepts logic; he tries to make thing work. I admit, the bar is pretty low — Gavin Newsom was a complete asshole. Still: Lee’s a decent guy.
But he has some heavy political baggage — and most of it has to do with his connections to sleazy operators like Pak and Willie Brown. As long as he’s linked to people who treat campaign finance laws, lobbying rules, and political ethics with disdain bordering on hostility, he’s going to have trouble keeping the public trust.
And right now, those same people are raising money — money that is already being spent on a political campaign — and the noncandidate is letting it happen.
Run if you want, Ed. But if you’re going to keep your promise, then it’s time to call Pak, Pierce and company and tell them to quit.