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Mayor’s Race More Interesting With Addition of Liberals

April 14, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ What could have been a sleepy mayor’s race with only local candidates got more interesting with the addition of Roberta Achtenberg, the highest-ranking openly lesbian official in the Clinton administration.

And the liberal buffet could be fuller still if state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown _ one of the nation’s highest-ranking black politicians _ decides to run.

Mayor Frank Jordan, a conservative Democrat by San Francisco standards, appears vulnerable after balancing the budget with $600 million in unpopular cuts.

Fellow Democrat Achtenberg could be good news for Jordan: She could scatter liberals and gays in a city where a big chunk of the voters are one or both. But Brown could dilute her support, further strengthening the race for Jordan.

Brown said he will decide next month whether to run. He’s a Democrat caught up right now in a fierce battle with Republicans to retain the speaker’s post he has held for 15 years.

``People in the community thought Willie presented an opportunity for coalition building,″ Martha Knutzen, president of the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Democratic Club, told the San Francisco Examiner. ``He’s a good, progressive candidate for mayor. Roberta could build that coalition, too, but her candidacy is in its infancy. We need to see what her messages are.″

Jordan said he doubts he will face Brown in November, since Brown would have to give up a lucrative law practice under the city charter.

``It’s going to be interesting, exciting,″ said Jordan, a former police chief. ``They’re all Democrats, they’re all toying with running.″

Just two months ago, Jordan expected to face only city politicians, including Angela Alioto and Terence Hallinan, members of the Board of Supervisors. Former Mayor Art Agnos, narrowly defeated by Jordan four years ago, is also considering a run.

With Achtenberg and possibly Brown, ``It’s a cafeteria plan for the voters,″ Jordan said. More seriously, he said: ``I’m glad there’s a full panoply of choices on the left, but I’m concerned that the left will tear itself apart.″

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