SAN FRANCISCO -- Since he officially announced his candidacy Monday, San Francisco has been buzzing with the news that acting Mayor Ed Lee will indeed seek a full term -- and the city hasn't given its new contender the warmest welcome.
Lee was greeted with boos, hisses and air horns during Monday night's mayoral debate at the Castro Theatre (so much so that the moderator told the audience to "stop booing the mayor," according to SF Appeal). That same morning, as Lee filed papers at City Hall to confirm his place in the race, a man was arrested for interrupting the scene, loudly heckling the mayor for "breaking his oath."
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The cold reception comes after months of speculation as to whether Ed Lee -- whom the Board of Supervisors appointed as interim mayor to fill the position vacated by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom in January -- would declare his candidacy for a full mayoral term. The decision to tap Lee as temporary mayor at the time hinged partially on his disinterest in running for a four-year term.
Earlier rumors of Lee's possible candidacy created sharp divides among San Francisco politicos, with some local leaders (like Senator Dianne Feinstein) championing a run, and others (like former supervisor Chris Daly) lambasting the mayor for "feigning" reluctance, suggesting his original intention was to enter the race all along. Meanwhile, the community-organized "Run Ed Run" campaign, which generated 51,000 supporters and the Chronicle revealed to be funded by powerful interest groups, dismantled upon Lee's declaration.
Much of the resistance to Lee's candidacy announcement came from the crop of other mayoral hopefuls, who chided him during Monday's debate for changing his mind to run. "He didn't change his mind, he broke his word," Supervisor John Avalos said.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu questioned the ethics behind the "Run, Ed, Run" push. State Senator Leland Yee asked Lee to resign now that he has "broken his promise." City Attorney Dennis Herrera highlighted Lee's pattern of succumbing to external pressures, citing the fact that he initially resisted the interim mayor position until advisers convinced him otherwise. "Will he be his own man in the future, and stand up and say no and take unpopular positions?" Herrera said. "That's what this race is all about."
Perhaps the sharpest criticism following Lee's announcement came not from a fellow candidate, but from Daly, who has vocally opposed Lee's potential candidacy from the beginning. "Ed Lee is a liar and should be greeted as such," he wrote in the description of his new Facebook group, "Ed Lee's a Liar," which orchestrated protests outside both City Hall and the Castro Theatre Monday. The man arrested while Lee filed papers is listed as a co-founder of Daly's Facebook group.
For his part, Lee maintains that he's done nothing wrong and simply wants to serve the people of San Francisco. "I've worked very hard to change the tone of government in the city," he said during Monday's debate, "and the last seven months showed we can get a lot done when we set politics aside."
A recent CBS News poll showed Ed Lee leading the pack of candidates, with 35 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him if the election were held today.
WATCH (courtesy of CBS News):
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