San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi jumps into mayoral ring 

The surprise entry into the mayoral race by Public Defender Jeff Adachi on Friday shook up yet again the campaign for The City’s top elected post.

Adachi’s decision comes on the heels of interim Mayor Ed Lee announcing earlier in the week that he would compete for a full four-year term in the November election. Like Lee, Adachi had long denied he would run for mayor.

“Just when you think it couldn’t get weirder,” said political consultant Jim Ross, who is not working for any of the candidates.

Adachi said Friday he made the decision “in the last couple of days” after listening to what mayoral candidates were saying in the debates. “I want to see a real debate in this race among the candidates,” Adachi said.

The field now has 11 major candidates who are either office holders or those with fundraising prowess. A total of 16 candidates were in the running after the filing deadline closed Friday.

When Lee entered the race last week the tone of the campaign took a negative turn as some candidates attacked Lee for going against his word not to run when he was appointed to the interim mayor post in January. The mayoral contest is now expected to only intensify with the addition of Adachi, who has been pushing a pension-reform measure that will compete against one backed by Lee and labor unions.

Ross predicted that Adachi’s candidacy will make pension reform the top issue of the race.

Critics of Adachi’s pension efforts said his mayoral announcement only confirmed what they suspected all along.

Police union head Gary Delagnes said that Adachi has tried to use his pension effort — which has been financed by millionaire businessmen Michael Moritz and George Hume — to turn himself into a “formidable” mayoral candidate, “which I do not think he is.

“I’ve always referred to him as a narcissistic liar,” Delagnes said.

After filing to run, Adachi said he decided to run “to restore integrity and financial accountability to The City.”

When asked about how the pension campaign could help his mayoral bid, he said, “I think it’s important we make sure that pension reform campaign stays about pension reform.”

Corey Cook, a political science professor at the University of San Francisco, said while Adachi has faced criticism from labor leaders about using the pension issue for political gain, “I don’t think that argument resonates with voters.”

Adachi worked as a deputy public defender for 15 years before being elected as San Francisco’s public defender in March 2002.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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