These days, Supervisor David Chiu is just full of surprises. First, he stunned attendees of Chris Daly's farewell roast by showing up, less than 24 hours after Daly excoriated him as the anti-Christ of San Francisco progressive politics and dropped the world's most famous Donkey Kong reference.
Today he announced he is withdrawing his name from consideration for the vacant District Attorney's position, jolting many of his fellow City Hall dwellers.
Chiu hasn't yet returned our calls, but did put out a press release stating, "Right now my strong belief is that I can best serve San Francisco from City Hall."
The board president's intelligence and political acumen often make it appear as if his every last move is calculated to the nth degree. City Hall sources familiar with Chiu's thinking say that's not always so: "If you're only looking at the political advantage angle, sometimes you miss why people actually make decisions," says one. Chiu wants to work on a new board where he can count on more overt support from incoming supes Malia Cohen and his longtime friend Jane Kim. "Supervisor Donkey Kong" won't be around. There was never a quid-pro-quo deal to vote for Ed Lee for interim mayor or heavy mayoral negotiations about who would replace Chiu as District 3 supe, because Chiu purportedly bowed out before it got to that point.
Another City Hall denizen didn't buy that, using a popular term for equine excrement to describe the "David's just following his heart" line of thinking. "He wanted that job," says the source. If Chiu took the DA position and was replaced by a moderate -- or a progressive tasked with voting for a moderate to be the next board president -- it would have purportedly created too foul an epitaph for his legislative career for him to countenance.
If Chiu loses his board presidency, he may yet rue his decision to stay put. One politico SF Weekly spoke with described Chiu's decision to stand pat as "the dumbest career move ever." Under Mayor Ed Lee, Chiu would have probably been doled out a nice departmental budget. He could have likely gotten himself re-elected in 10 months. He could help whip a dysfunctional DA's office into shape and bide his time while Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, and even Nancy Pelosi left public office.
That's one way of looking at things. On the other hand, serving two years on a potentially more harmonious board could be a better career move than 10 months as DA.
In any event, what's certain is David Chiu is sticking around. Just about everything else remains opaque.
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