Speaking to reporters after a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday, the mayor said cryptically that he has had "interesting discussions about the future of the city," according to news reports.
"That doesn't necessarily translate into elections, but there are interesting discussions going on," Lee added, while dodging direct questions about whether he would categorically rule out a run. "I would just leave it at that."
For the city's political tea-leaf-readers, the remarks amounted to a certain, but "subtle shift" from the interim mayor's position over the past six months, during which he has steadily and forcefully denied any intention of running.
The interim mayor was put into power in January after promising a fractious Board of Supervisors that he would serve out the remainder of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's mayoral term without plotting a run for re-election. But in recent weeks, a group called "Run Ed Run" has been distributing campaign materials around the city and advertising on Internet websites calling on Lee to enter the race.
The campaign for frontrunner Leland Yee, the veteran state legislator, jumped in Thursday and released a Youtube video, "Promise," that featured clips of Lee telling television reporters and the Bay Citizen editorial staff during a February newsroom visit that he would not run. The video, layered over an ominous soundtrack, features a host of other politicians -- including Newsom back in January-- calling for a caretaker mayor who would not run.
It ended with the message: “Help Ed keep the promise. Say NO to Run Ed Run.”
You can watch the video here: