The city charter specifies that the president of the board of supervisors immediately steps in as acting mayor until the supervisors vote to decide the interim mayor to fill the rest of the term.
It will take six of the 11 votes and they can select anyone in San Francisco who is at least 21 years old, so the jockeying is underway.
The dilemma for some is whether to select a caretaker who will not run for election in November 2011, but will simply guide the city until then.
"It should be someone who is non-political, someone who has the city in mind first and foremost," outgoing Supervisor Sophie Maxwell said.
But will she get a say? Maxwell is among four current board members who are termed out and will leave office in January. A new board takes over Jan. 8 and Newsom is so concerned, he has talked about delaying his scheduled Jan. 3 swearing-in to guarantee the new board gets to make the vote.
It's not clear if he can do that legally and on Thursday Newsom said as long as the process is transparent, he doesn't care about dates.
"backroom deals at the Board of Supervisors with people changing one position for another position. These are not just rumors. I know those conversations are taking place and that is not this city," he said.
Former Mayor Willie Brown says he's been approached by many people to throw his hat into the ring, but he is certain about one thing.
"No, no, no. I'm not pursuing anything or anybody," he said.