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Group Quietly Begins Effort to Push Mayor Ed Lee to Run for Re-Election

 
Lee denies any interest in running, but his supporters have already begun gathering signatures

Updated 1:25 p.m. on May 18, 2011 

At least two former San Francisco supervisors have quietly begun to gather signatures and raise funds to push interim Mayor Ed Lee to run for re-election in November, people with knowledge of the group’s activities told The Bay Citizen.

The supervisors have close ties to some of Lee's most prominent political supporters, including former Mayor Willie Brown and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Since Monday morning, former Supervisors Michael Yaki, Leslie Katz and Jim Gonzalez have made phone calls to solicit money for a fund that would not be subject to campaign disclosure laws or contribution limits, according to people who have been told about the preliminary pitches.

Independent expenditure committees that receive contributions to pay for political causes must file disclosure forms, according to city campaign finance laws.

After an inquiry from The Bay Citizen, Yaki confirmed the existence of the group, but denied that its efforts thus far have gone beyond gathering signatures in support of a Lee candidacy.

Yaki also disputed the extent of Katz’s involvement, saying that he and Gonzalez conceived the efforts — and represented no organized interests. Gonzalez is a Sacramento-based political consultant who once served as chief aide to then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein in the 1980s before she appointed him to the Board of Supervisors in 1986.

“We’re not asking for any money at this point,” Yaki said. “This is strictly a sort of grassroots push. Basically, what I’ve seen from talking to people and listening to others is that there’s a lot of people who would like to see Mayor Lee run, but people are just waiting for something to happen.”

He added: “Money is a very, very premature subject at this time.”

Lee’s spokesman Christine Falvey said the mayor had no connection to the effort.

“He is focused on pension and budget this week and can’t afford any distractions,” said Falvey. “But he is looking forward to returning to his post as administrator.”

The group’s formation this week represents the first milestone in what political insiders expect to be a long and likely amorphous campaign over the next several months to push Lee to run.

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