In the Battle for the Board of Supervisors, Downtown interests continue to fund District 3 candidate Claudine Cheng, but they’re also helping Joe Alioto Jr. And David Chiu’s not the only progressive in that race under fire for “Republican connections” – as Denise McCarthy took money from the likes of Gap CEO Don Fisher and Dede Wilsey. In District 11, Julio Ramos has raised money from the building trades – while real estate interests are funding Ahsha Safai. John Avalos has strong progressive support in that race, but Randy Knox (who raised no money before June 30) has the endorsement of Aaron Peskin and Bevan Dufty. In District 1, the moderate “usual suspects” are funding Sue Lee – but she also got help from nonprofit director Gordon Chin. Expect the JROTC ballot initiative to be heavily used in that race as a soft money conduit against Eric Mar. In District 4, Carmen Chu is clearly the establishment choice, but her main rival – Ron Dudum – took a check from eviction lawyer Andrew Zacks. No big surprises in District 9 (where 3 progressives are duking it out), but Mayor Newsom’s candidate – Eva Royale – has yet to raise a dime.
Campaign finance statements for the first six months of 2008 are now available at the Ethics Commission’s website
– and there are lots of interesting donors in various races. Here’s a district-by-district run-down of contributors that will raise a few eyebrows:
District 3: North Beach / Chinatown
As I reported last month
, Claudine Cheng
was the only candidate at a recent debate not to endorse Aaron Peskin’s revenue measures – probably because real estate interests are funding her campaign. With new filings reported, it’s only worse. Her contributors include ex-Supervisor Barbara Kaufmann, Melinda Mettler (Director of Advertising for the Academy of Art
), PG&E manager Mary Jung, Jim Lazarus of the Chamber of Commerce, two associates of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Government Affairs Director of Comcast, and ex-Planning Director Gerald Green.
But Cheng’s not the only one with corporate contributors who have a stake in the next District 3 Supervisor. Joe Alioto Jr.
took money from Pier 39 Limited Partnership (which owns valuable waterfront real estate), San Francisco Cannery LLC, the owner of North Beach’s Pagoda Theater
, and Nathan Nayman of the Committee on Jobs. More than any other candidate, developers have “bundled” contributions to Alioto – meaning that they give the maximum legal donation of $500, and then have several of their family members do the same.
Moreover, Alioto received a $500 contribution from retired Judge Bill Newsom (i.e., the Mayor’s father) and $250 from Gavin’s sister. Political consultant Clint Reilly also gave the maximum legal contribution to Alioto – but his wife, Janet (who ran for Assembly in 2006) donated to District 3 candidate Tony Gantner
has raised over $100,000 (a huge amount at this early stage) – and is positioning herself to progressive voters as an alternative to David Chiu
. But a closer look at which contributors are funding her campaign raises quite a few eyebrows: Don Fisher
and his wife Doris, Dede Wilsey
, ex-49ers President Carmen Policy, Warren Hellman, Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, attorney Richard Guggenheim, William Newsom, landlord advocates Janan New and Brooks Turner, Berkeley developer Patrick Kennedy, and the Plumbers Union
(who tried to evict SRO tenants at the Civic Center Hotel.)
Of course, David Chiu has also raised a huge amount – and it’s clear that he’s using his contacts from Washington DC and Grassroots Enterprise. Chiu’s contributor list includes a lot of federal government employees – and while I couldn’t find any big Republicans
, three top officials at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association gave $500 checks. Former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry (the first CEO of Grassroots) also maxed out, which will upset
net neutrality advocates. But despite Chiu’s controversial donors, unlike contributors to other candidates it’s doubtful any of these people have a stake in local decisions at City Hall.
District 11: Excelsior / Crocker-Amazon
On the August 8th deadline for candidates to return their papers, Ahsha Safai
arrived at City Hall with Assemblywoman Fiona Ma – who contributed to his campaign. But reports also show that he’s taken a lot of money from the real estate industry: he got four $250 checks from associates of Seven Hills Properties (the developer of 3400 Cesar Chavez, whose campaign donations to various Supervisors may have influenced
that project’s outcome.) Other real estate donations to Safai include folks at Maven Investments, lawyers at the firm Kay & Merkle, and developer Ron Kaufmann (husband of ex-Supervisor Barbara Kaufmann.)
has strong progressive support in the race – as his contributions come from union organizers, non-profit workers and City Hall aides who know him well after years of advocacy. Progressive Julio Ramos
also raised a decent amount – but his donations come from attorneys (including Matt Gonzalez and his law partners) and the Building and Construction Trades.
A third progressive, Randy Knox
, raised no money before June 30th – but returned his papers at City Hall before the filing deadline, accompanied by Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Bevan Dufty. Knox also took the opportunity to change his party registration from Green to Democrat, and told me he plans to rev up his fundraising machine. Another moderate candidate, Myrna Lim
, reported no fundraising activity before June 30th.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Aaron Peskin has dual-endorsed John Avalos and Randy Knox. He also told me he endorsed Avalos as his #1 choice and Knox as his #2, because Avalos had asked him first. He did, however, get his picture taken with Knox -- when the candidate filed his papers at City Hall.
District 1: the Richmond
The fundraising lists for Eric Mar
and Sue Lee
make it clear that this will be a two-way “progressive” vs. “moderate” contest. Mar’s contributions are from labor organizers, public interest attorneys, and progressive politicians like Tom Ammiano and Aaron Peskin. Lee’s donations are a “who’s who” of Downtown business people – such as Jim Lazarus of the Chamber of Commerce, former Chamber president Roberta Achtenberg, Ken Cleveland of BOMA, Nathan Nayman of the Committee on Jobs, Tim Colan of the SF Housing Action Coalition and lots of real estate money.
A few donations, however, break this pattern – making the race a bit more complicated. Lee received a $250 contribution from Gordon Chin, executive director of the Chinatown Community Development Corporation (CCDC) – a progressive non-profit. This will make it harder for Mar to depict Lee as just a Downtown pawn. Mar also has the endorsement of Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and State Senator Leland Yee. Whether that helps get him contributions from outside progressive circles remains to be seen.
But much of the “money game” in District 1 won’t be seen through candidate filings. This is the one Supervisor race where the JROTC ballot initiative will probably be used as a conduit for soft money expenditures. Expect to see lots of money spent in District 1 (officially from the JROTC proposition campaign) attacking “Eric Mar and the School Board” as a backhanded means of discrediting the progressive candidate. As a clue of what’s to come, attorney Doug Chan – who led the campaign at the School Board to save the program – gave $250 to Sue Lee, and $200 to candidate Alicia Wang
District 4: the Sunset
Appointed incumbent Carmen Chu
is the front-runner in this election to finish Ed Jew’s term, and her donations show that she is the establishment choice. Chu has taken money from the California Hospital Association, Pier 39 Limited Partnership, associates at Seven Hills Properties, Steven Falk and Jim Lazarus from the Chamber of Commerce, the head of the Hotel Council, and the San Francisco Apartment Association.
But progressives hoping to get behind a challenger in this race are simply out of luck. Her only opponent to raise serious money, Ron Dudum
, took a $500 check from eviction lawyer Andrew Zacks
– who has used the Ellis Act more than anyone else in San Francisco.
District 9: Mission / Bernal Heights
Not much to report here, because the three front-runners – David Campos
, Mark Sanchez
and Eric Quezada
– have all raised money from similar progressive sources. The bigger news, however, is that Eva Royale
– who has the Mayor’s endorsement – reported no fundraising activity before June 30th. It remains to be seen whether she will be a serious candidate.