Confirming a widespread rumor of many months, San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí has filed paperwork making it official that he will run for mayor against London Breed in 2024.
Safaí's larger political aspirations have been pretty well known, but he likely isn't taking lightly the fact that Breed is an incumbent of four years with plenty of friends with deep pockets. She was basically the anointed successor to Ed Lee in a long-running cabal of moderate politicos and donors.
Still, the mood of the city is by all accounts grim, and lots more people will be voting in the 2024 mayoral election than typically vote, because it will be occurring for the first time in decades during an even-numbered, general-election year. That was approved by voters this past November, effectively giving Breed a freebie year – but it sets up a potentially more dramatic contest against the backdrop of a presidential race, and the race to replace Dianne Feinstein in the Senate.
"People are very dissatisfied with the current mayor, dissatisfied with the condition of the city and they’re looking for change," Safaí said in a statement to the Chronicle Monday. "A lot of the people that I represent and work with and have talked to all over the city want someone that’s [sic] going to fight for working families, that’s going to fight to get the city back on track. I have heard overwhelmingly that they want new leadership."
As the Chronicle is quick to point out, Safaí will need to spend the next 18 months convincing voters that he represents real change and different strategies than Breed, given how he represents the moderate bloc on the Board of Supes that often agrees with her. The voters who will be most motivated to replace Breed are going to be progressives.
Safaí has been critiquing Breed for a few months leading up to this announcement, telling reporters things like he "didn’t hear a spirit of collaboration" from the mayor during her State of the City address in February. And it's not as if SF voters are typically all that fond of the Board of Supervisors as a body, though they may like their own individual supe.
Poll numbers from the fall showed Breed's approval rating slipping significantly in 2022, from 49% to 36%. But a full 77% of respondents expressed their displeasure with the Board of Supes in that same poll, so technically that puts Breed still out ahead of the 11 of them, Safaí included.
Assuming we don't see significant improvement in the situation with downtown being a ghost town, or with fentanyl and other drugs being dealt in the Mission and Tenderloin, there is likely to be some appetite for change come November 2024. But a progressive challenger to Breed has not yet emerged.
Will Board President Aaron Peskin, who has spent most of the last two decades in City Hall and who unsuccessfully sought the mayor's office in 2011 when Gavin Newsom left office, throw his hat in the ring? Peskin will be termed out of his D3 Supervisor role in 2024, having served a total of four non-consecutive terms and terming out once before. Or will someone else emerge as the tea leaves continue to be read about Breed's fate?
We shall see in the coming months.