Jean Quan, right, as a council member in 2011
at a protest for Oscar Grant. Insiders says she’s
thinking about a return to the council in 2016.

OAKLAND | 2016 | Granted, it’s early. But Oakland’s 2016 election season is quietly taking shape and surprisingly loaded with intrigue, including the possible return of ex-Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to vie for Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan’s At-Large council seat and a potential challenge to Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney by former longtime West Oakland Councilmember Nancy Nadel.

In addition, veteran Councilmember Larry Reid may retire next year and there could be a rush to fill his East Oakland’s District Seven seat. Also, former Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker is set to give Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley his strongest challenger yet, making him the most credible threat to a sitting county supervisor in more than two decades.

Speculation about whether Quan might take on Kaplan in 2016 began almost immediately after the pair finished third and second last year, respectively, in the Oakland mayoral campaign behind Libby Schaaf. A stat often offered by Quan supporters is the 1,100-first-place-vote advantage that Quan had over Kaplan in that race. However, Kaplan ended up in second place after the ranked-choice tabulations, thereby indicating that she has stronger overall support among city voters.

Other 2014 mayoral candidates may also be eyeing a chance to challenge Kaplan. Parker said some community groups urged him to run for the At-Large council seat. And Joe Tuman, who finished fifth in the 2014 mayoral race, may consider a run as well. But Kaplan appears to be taking Quan’s potential challenge the most seriously, sources said. In an interview, Kaplan said she’s focusing on the many challenges facing the city. “It’s not just about her,” Kaplan said of Quan. “It’s about all the work to be done in Oakland.”

For Kaplan, facing a reelection battle against a former colleague with extensive experience is nothing new. In 2012, Kaplan soundly defeated former Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente for the At-Large seat. “This situation is not particularly shocking given what happened last time and voters are going to have to make a decision on where we are as a city,” said Kaplan. “We have a major housing crisis and someone has to do something about it.”

A close supporter of Quan’s previous campaigns said the former mayor’s interest in the At-Large seat is due in part to a perception that Kaplan is not hardworking. “I think Jean would be happy if this made Rebecca be more productive,” the supporter said, adding that “Jean still thinks she has something to offer city government.”…