For a brief period beginning last December, London Breed had gained entry into a club that has, of late, almost exclusively belonged to white men: the ranks of big-city mayors.
Breed, a 43-year-old African American woman and president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, had automatically become the city’s acting mayor following the sudden death of Ed Lee, who had served for seven years before succumbing to a heart attack on December 12.
Only two women have ever served as mayor of San Francisco, and both of them originally took office not by election, but after a death. The first was Dianne Feinstein, who assumed the mayoralty after the assassination of George Moscone in 1978. She stayed in office for a decade, turning her accidental ascendancy into a two-term stint as mayor, and she used that perch to launch a bid for Senate, where she is now running for her fifth full term.