The city has not had Republican leadership since 1964. Somehow, rather than bringing unity, this common ground is scored with difference.
All politics are local, but some are more local than others. When Ed Lee, then in his second term as the mayor of San Francisco, had a fatal heart attack in a supermarket, this past December, city leaders gathered to exchange an old civic emotion: sentiment buoyed by opportunism. Within hours, London Breed, the president of the Board of Supervisors and Lee’s acting successor, had hosted a press conference to praise the fallen leader and set a strong course. “He believed in a city where a poor kid from public housing could become mayor,” Breed, who grew up in public housing, said. “Our city’s values have never been more important!” A swift response across the political landscape made that clear enough. Although the conference was hastily assembled, its attendees included Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a former mayor who is running in this year’s gubernatorial election. California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris, reportedly called Breed that day to talk.