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Joanna, Jilted

Joanna Rees's new campaign manager---a little touchy towards...

Joanna Rees's old campaign manager, Ace Smith, now working with Edwin Lee.

One of the things that caused me so much confusion yesterday in the Edwin Lee announcement was that I knew Ace Smith already had a candidate in the Mayor's race: Joanna Rees. In fact, the two parted earlier this year. But Rees has been likened to Austin Beutner to me, so after learning that Smith/Clegg were representing her, I took special note of her activities.

And as soon as I saw Ace Smith's name linked to the interim Mayor's, I thought: he wouldn't possibly ditch one candidate, and then, after taking in that insider view, hire onto another campaign, mid-race, would he?

He did.

In fact, it turns out that Smith was sending feelers down LA way last week, wondering if some political operatives might be fresh for the plucking. He had to do this because most of the talent in San Francisco is already tapped out in the race. And so it turns out that even that weird Facebook posting (by a man who hops onto Facebook about as often as he hops onto a motorcycle) about looking for financial officers, in the same breath as saying how excited he was to work for Edwin, was all legit, if very uncharacteristic.

Because Joanna Rees's team for a time was the same as Beutner's, I began following her and also the race in general long ago. I have to confess that over time I began rooting for Rees. Look what she'll do--and I guarantee you that she didn't do this kind of retail politicking with any input from Smith/Clegg--she'll stand out on a streetcorner with an ironing board and talk about her campaign.

And indeed, while she "welcomed" Lee into the Mayor's race, she also let loose this blast:

If anything, the ethically questionable sideshow that brought us to today’s announcement serves as a stark reminder of the widening disconnect between insider power struggles at city hall, and neighborhoods concerned about creating jobs, strengthening schools, and ending the cycle of deficits that puts vital city services at risk.

Edwin Lee is a popular figure in San Francisco; he has created an aura of competence. He immediately becomes the frontrunner, not at all because of Smith. Rees and Smith parted company in early March, a lapse in time that doesn't exactly constitute a jilting. But questions about how truly ethical it is for Lee to hire the team once employed by one of his competitors might come to the fore--if Smith-smitten mainstream media garner enough courage to ask them.