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Now onto No. 6 in my list of great local political and policy stories to look out for in the coming year:

6. The Race for Mayor of San Diego

In a pretty naked attempt to build up suspense about whether he’s going to actually run for mayor or not, businessman Steve Francis has spent months forming “exploratory committees” and sending new operatives out to announce that they might be running his campaign if, perhaps, Francis does, maybe, decide to, potentially, run for mayor. And they’ve asked for contact information from reporters, just in case, maybe, he decides to run for mayor.

Ooooh, I just can’t wait to find out!!!

The suspense is killing me.

Please. Francis will soon announce his bid and will begin holding press conferences to denounce the mayor’s decisions, point out (maybe exaggerate a little) his errors or failings and otherwise make the case for why Francis is a better choice for mayor. It will be interesting to learn what theme he’ll latch on to. Does he come from Sanders’ left? He has courted and conversed with the populist city leaders: Donna Frye and City Attorney Mike Aguirre. Or does he hammer Sanders from the right, claiming he hasn’t cut government enough, he’s too liberal on things like gay marriage, booze and medical marijuana? Who knows — we will soon enough.

Many speculate that a more liberal entrant to the race will appear the minute Francis fully commits to run — that, more specifically, Donna Frye will run. I don’t see that happening. Frye has run twice in the last three years. I can’t see her excited to mount another campaign for mayor.

John Lamb, the newly returned columnist at CityBeat, wrote the other day that Francis had asked Frye to sign a letter committing to not running if he decides to maybe, potentially, perhaps run for mayor.

I asked her about that.

She said Lamb’s report was inaccurate.

“It did not happen. Sure, I had lunch with Steve Francis last year, and I probably will again this year. But that’s it,” she said.

So, how about the real question, has she evolved from her statement to me months ago that she wasn’t likely to run for mayor?

“I’m not interested. Where people find intrigue is when I say I won’t rule it out,” she said. “By that I mean if something odd or really significant happened then I would consider it. There are circumstances in which I would do it. What would happen if Sanders said he didn’t want to run again, for instance?”

Although, I have been known to be very wrong. If Francis didn’t have so much money and ambition, I would have thought Sanders’ reelection was a sure thing a long time ago. But Francis will serve to keep the incumbent mayor on his toes. Every politician should know his job is something he has to earn.

SCOTT LEWIS

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