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Breed pulls ahead of Leno in fundraising for June mayor’s race

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(Examiner file photo)

Board of Supervisors President London Breed now leads the pack in fundraising for the June mayoral contest, reporting $870,000 in contributions raised in under four months.

Breed began fundraising in early January and candidates were required to report Thursday how much they had raised as of April 21.

Closest behind Breed was former state senator Mark Leno, who raised $371,000 in contributions between January and April 21. In 2017, he raised $417,000, for a combined $787,000.

“London Breed is humbled, energized and inspired by all of the support she’s received from donors,” Breed’s campaign spokesperson, Tara Moriarty, said in a statement. “Nearly 3,000 people, 64 percent of whom are from San Francisco, have contributed to her campaign.”

Leno was also “humbled” by the “overwhelming support from all corners of San Francisco,” campaign spokesperson Zoë Kleinfeld said. The contributions have come from “nearly 3,000 donors,” which shows the appetite for “fundamental change in City Hall” — one of Leno’s main campaign promises.

Breed’s contributors include polarizing figure Ron Conway, the tech investor who was late Mayor Ed Lee’s most prominent backer, and his wife Gayle Conway, who each contributed $500 to her campaign in January. At that time Breed was also serving as acting mayor, after Lee died. Other Conway family members also donated to Breed’s campaign.

Tony Winnicker, who was the late-Mayor Ed Lee’s top advisor, also contributed $500 to Breed in early January. In April, Steve Kawa, Lee’s retired chief of staff, donated $500 as well.

Breed was replaced on Jan. 23 by the Board of Supervisors, who named then-District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell as mayor. Conway’s support of Breed was one reason cited by progressive board members who voted to remove her from the mayor’s office, along with a desire to deny anyone in the mayor’s race the advantage of incumbency.

But Breed has been able to capitalize on her mayoral moment, according to political consultant David Latterman. “She got her name out there and she was able to leverage that into money,” Latterman said.

Independent expenditure committees, or Super PACs, are also spending big bucks in the contest.

On April 25, Gayle Conway contributed $200,000 to a PAC to attack another mayoral contender, Supervisor Jane Kim. The political committee is called San Franciscans Against Domestic Violence and criticizes Kim for her 2012 vote to reinstate former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi after he was convicted of misdemeanor false imprisonment.

Kim began fundraising in late December and has raised a total of $409,080.

“Jane has always relied on grassroots support rather than big money backers,” Kim’s campaign spokesperson Julie Edwards said. “We have the resources we need to win.”

In addition to the Gayle Conway-funded PAC, other third-party groups have spent $233,932 supporting Breed, with the most, $173,807, from the San Francisco Firefighters Local 798 union, which includes a $9,000 contribution from Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer.

Kim has benefited from $196,418 in third-party spending supporting her, with the most from Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

Leno called on Breed Friday to “denounce the three special-interest, billionaire-funded Super PACs that have spent over $360,000 on her behalf and to attack her opponents.”

Moriarty, however, shot back, accusing Leno of helping to orchestrate Breed’s removal as mayor and running negative ads against her. “Leno was the first to go negative, and that’s all he’s doing, even now.” She also pointed to the PAC backing Kim, who is aligned with Leno’s progressive politics. “So spare us the hypocrisy,” she said.

Latterman said these three candidates “have the money to do what they need to do.” He added, “It’s a fair fight.”

The candidates are also receiving additional matching funds through The City’s public financing program.

The fourth highest fundraiser in the contest of eight candidates was civil rights attorney and former city supervisor Angela Alioto, who reported $190,571 in contributions this year.

This story was updated with additional information and comment.

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