Steinberg acknowledges he and Mayor Johnson don't always see eye to eye. But they worked arm in arm to keep the Sacramento Kings from leaving town. And now Steinberg is coming out in support of Johnson's proposal to give the mayor control over the city's budget and day-to-day operations - and the power to appoint the city manager.
"As the city grows and as it evolves that the form of government ought to evolve as well. And I think it’s a responsible proposal. I think it maintains the checks and balances," Steinberg told Capital Public Radio Tuesday. "Regardless of who the mayor is, let’s look at what’s best the long term in Sacramento, and I think this proposal is balanced and it’s sound."
Steinberg's support could give Johnson political cover against leading "strong mayor" opponents like the Sacramento County Democratic Party and the Sacramento Central Labor Council. The council's Executive Secretary, Bill Camp, says he respects Steinberg, who's worked closely with organized labor during his career, but calls "strong mayor" a "dumb idea" that takes power away from the city's neighborhoods.
Steinberg is termed out of the legislature at the end of the year, and he's been floated as a possible mayoral candidate in 2016. The senator has not ruled out running - but only if Johnson does not seek a third term.