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Ed Lee to run for San Francisco mayor

August 8, 2011 |  9:18 am

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shakes budget director Greg Wagner's hand after signing the budget for the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year at City Hall in San Francisco on July 26, 2011.

San Francisco interim Mayor Ed Lee is expected to announce this morning that he will run for the job in November, upending a crowded mayoral field and reneging on a promise to fill out only the remainder of the term to which he was appointed.

Lee told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday that he never intended to run when the Board of Supervisors named him to the seat vacated by now-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom in January. His pledge to be a caretaker and not enter the political fray was a key condition of the votes in his favor. Two current supervisors and two former officials are vying for the seat.

But Lee's understated manner and drama-free approach to problem solving have earned the former tenants rights advocate turned city administrator a broad base of support.

Lee told the Chronicle that it was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) who persuaded him last month that the city needed his steady hand to steer clear of the paralyzing battles between moderates and more liberal progressives that have marred recent administrations. Feinstein herself was named as the last interim mayor in this city, after the 1978 assassination of George Moscone.

But critics and a number of pundits have said Lee's act of becoming a politician by entering the race will instantly tarnish his above-the fray glow.

It will also subject his backers to fierce scrutiny. Three separate efforts to persuade Lee to enter the race were launched in recent months. One, Progress for All, which conducted a polished "Run Ed Run" campaign, is the subject of an ethics commission hearing today. The committee was free from campaign limits because it was not affiliated with a candidate.


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Photo: San Francisco interim Mayor Ed Lee shakes budget director Greg Wagner's hand after signing the budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year at San Francisco City Hall on July 26. Credit: Laura Morton / San Francisco Chronicle