City Beat

Steinberg hints at Sacramento mayoral campaign

Video: Steinberg says he's taking a 'serious look' at running for mayor

"I do think I have a deep well of support," says former state Senate leader
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"I do think I have a deep well of support," says former state Senate leader

Darrell Steinberg certainly sounds like a guy who has decided to run for Sacramento mayor.

Steinberg told reporters Thursday that he’s sure he and Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who announced her candidacy for mayor the day before, “will have a good campaign.”

“It will be on the issues, I’m going to run on my record,” he said before clearing his throat.

“If I run,” he continued.

Steinberg – the former state Senate president, assemblyman and Sacramento councilman – made his remarks before addressing the Harry Truman Democratic Club at downtown’s Sterling Hotel. In what sounded a lot like a campaign speech, Steinberg provided the club with his thoughts on the city’s proposed minimum wage increase, tackling homelessness and education.

“Man, if this wasn’t some kind of a hint, I don’t know what was,” Steinberg told the crowd at the end of his speech.

Ashby announced her run for mayor on Wednesday, the morning after Mayor Kevin Johnson said he would not run for re-election after his current term ends next year. During her announcement, Ashby said Steinberg has “made Sacramento proud,” but that “he had a time on the City Council and it was a while back, but I think Sacramento wants to move forward.”

Asked for her response to Steinberg’s remarks Thursday, Ashby was complimentary.


“I think he is a good person and a person I’ve worked with a lot in the past and I would hope that a race between someone like me and someone like him, that Sacramento would have a great dialogue and it would be an above-board campaign season,” Ashby said.

Steinberg said he expects to make an announcement about a potential run within the next few days.

Josh Pulliam, a campaign consultant working for Ashby, said Steinberg may be “dragging (his decision) out in the hopes that something he deems ‘better’ comes along.”

Steinberg’s name has been mentioned for a possible gubernatorial appointment to fill the state attorney general’s post for the remaining two years of Kamala Harris’ term if she wins her campaign for U.S. Senate. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Sacramento Democrat who replaced Steinberg on the City Council and then in the state Assembly, said earlier this month that he will run for attorney general in 2018.

Steinberg said Thursday he wasn’t waiting on a potential statewide appointment before announcing his mayoral intentions.

In the meantime, some members of Sacramento’s political establishment are already lining up behind him.

A staff aide to Councilman Steve Hansen handed out signs at the Truman Club meeting that read, “Run Darrell Run.” Hansen has endorsed Steinberg, as have Assemblyman and former Councilman Kevin McCarty and Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna.

“He has the right combination of state and local experience, and the energy to be an outstanding mayor,” McCarty said.

Former Mayor Heather Fargo, while stopping short of endorsing Steinberg, said “he would be a fine mayor and would certainly bring a lot to the table.” Councilman Jeff Harris also did not give his official endorsement, but said he was “deeply pleased to encourage (Steinberg) to run.”

Ashby, in her second term representing North Natomas on the City Council, so far has the support of the firefighters union and Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.

In Steinberg’s speech to the Truman Club, he advocated for universal preschool in the city and said that while he supports an increased minimum wage, “there ought to be more consensus” on the increase before it is approved. The City Council is scheduled to vote on a minimum wage plan Tuesday that would gradually increase the rate to $12.50 an hour. The proposal is opposed by key labor and business groups.

On homelessness, Steinberg said the problem “is getting worse; there are more people (on the streets) and we can’t keep up.” He said he would propose using $100 million from Proposition 63 – a 2004 initiative he helped write that taxes millionaires to pay for mental health services – to help finance permanent housing for the homeless.

At her announcement speech, Ashby said homelessness “is not an issue we can skirt anymore.”

“We need to take it head on if we want to be the type of city we are destined to become,” she said.

Beyond that, Ashby said Thursday she would wait to respond to Steinberg’s proposals until he enters the mayoral race.

“Darrell has said that he has a lot of options and he is trying to decide which one he wants to pursue,” she said. “If he decides to pursue mayor of Sacramento, we’ll have a lot of opportunities to debate the issues.”

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