SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The race for mayor in San Francisco could become a serious showdown. Rumors of State Sen. Mark Leno challenging incumbent Mayor Ed Lee are picking up steam, and Leno is not denying the possibility of a campaign.

In 2003, Gavin Newsom defeated his closest challenger by 22 points. Four years later, Newsom won by nearly 70 points. And in 2011, Mayor Ed Lee won by 20 points.

“It has been about 10 years since we’ve had a really high-profile showdown for the mayor’s race,” said KPIX 5 political analyst Melissa Griffin Caen.

But that might be about to change.

“Right now, at this moment, Mark Leno is the candidate best positioned to put a challenge to Mayor Ed Lee, no question,” Griffin Caen said.

The first thing to know about a Mark Leno campaign – he wouldn’t be running if he didn’t think he could win.

“One thing you know about Mark Leno is that he does not lose. He’s never lost an election, he’s very careful,” Griffin Caen said. “If he’s running, or considering running seriously, he’s got evidence that he could actually win.”

What would the campaign look like? Our analyst said Lee would focus on his record, which includes attracting businesses. But from Leno’s perspective, the tech-driven business boom presents a target.

KPIX 5 reached out to Mayor Lee’s office Tuesday, they did not return our call.

We also reached out to State Sen. Leno. In a statement to KPIX 5 he said, “Since my return to San Francisco after completing this year’s legislative session, many people have been asking me to consider a mayoral run. To those who are asking, I am listening.”

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