Breed rivals Leno with more than $300K raised in mayor’s race

London Breed has catapulted her mayoral war chest to rival the sizable financial backing of former state Sen. Mark Leno amid allegations that sexism and racism led to her ouster as acting mayor.

Maggie Muir, her campaign manager, told the San Francisco Examiner late Wednesday that Breed has raised more than $300,000 since announcing her bid for mayor less a month ago on Jan. 5. Breed is now closer to matching Leno in terms of campaign contributions than other candidates.

Campaign finance records released Wednesday show Leno brought in around $418,000 in contributions in 2017. Leno’s campaign spokesperson Erin Mundy said he has raised an additional $62,000 since.

The news comes after the Board of Supervisors removed Breed from her position as acting mayor last Tuesday and chose Mark Farrell as interim mayor. Breed is now back to serving solely as the president of the Board of Supervisors.

Muir said Breed raised the funding from more than 1,000 donors. Breed’s time as acting mayor may have also given her a bump in name recognition with voters, which political insiders speculated could help her gain ground over Leno’s spending.

The finance records show Leno spent more than a fifth of his mighty $418,000 war chest last year. Leno spent upward of $93,000 in 2017 with another six months left before the election in June.

Leno’s opponents claim his sizable financial backing is an unfair advantage for reaching voters, since Leno raised money long before the other candidates declared intent to run.

Leno began to fundraise for his campaign in May 2017 — more than two years before the election was scheduled to take place in November 2019 — but the sudden death of Mayor Ed Lee on Dec. 12 bumped the election up to June, leaving Leno’s competitors with less time than expected to fundraise.

In just 11 days, campaign finance filings show Supervisor Jane Kim received $51,080 in campaign cash. Kim began to fundraise the day she declared her intent to run for mayor Dec. 20.

“It’s a five-month race,” Kim said. “The City has never seen a mayor’s race like that. Instead of doing things sequentially, we have to do 10 things that’d happen in a sequence at the same time.”

Kim said her campaign contributions have since surpassed $100,000.

Kim and other candidates who fundraised last year had to file campaign finance reports with the Ethics Commission Wednesday. Candidates who filed include mayoral candidate Amy Farah Weiss, a homeless advocate, who raised $7,589.

Former Supervisor Angela Alioto, who is also running for mayor, did not begin to collect contributions until 2018.

Alioto said she has around $66,000 in the bank from January contributions and is undaunted by Leno’s contributions so far.

“It’s absolutely surmountable,” Alioto said. “My campaigns have never been about money in the bank, though I think we will equal his by the time we’re finished … Think Seabiscuit.”

After spending, Leno’s war chest stood at around $338,000 as of Dec. 31.

Leno’s campaign shared the campaign contribution records with the Examiner. As of Wednesday night, the Ethics Commission had not released Leno’s official filings to the public.

Leno’s contributors include a range of professionals, from real estate attorneys and developers to state senators and college professors.

Leno had contributions from employees of Paragon Real Estate Group, Forest City and Reuben, Junius and Rose. Founder Peter Acworth, whose business was formerly housed in the Armory, also contributed.

Dale Carlson, co-founder of Share Better SF, who unsuccessfully championed Proposition F to tighten regulations on Airbnb in 2015 but subsequently won stricter regulations at the Board of Supervisors, contributed $250 to Leno.

“I don’t know that he’ll take a harder line on tech, but he was a very strong supporter of what we were trying to do with Airbnb,” Carlson said. “He’s a reasonable guy, it wasn’t that he was saying with Airbnb ‘we’re going to stop this altogether,’ he took a measured approach to it.”

Leno received few contributions from people working in the tech sector. Among those few were Meena Harris, who listed her profession in Dec. as head of strategy & leadership at Uber, though she has political ties to San Francisco through her aunt, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

Kim’s contributions include donors from the tech sector. This is to be expected, insiders said, as she represents the South of Market neighborhood, where many tech industry startups are located.

Mikkel Svane, CEO of software developer Zendesk, donated the maximum allowed $500 to Kim’s campaign. Other tech industry donations include software engineers, product managers, developers, “evangelists” and more from Apple, Netflix, Strava, Dropbox and Yammer, among other companies.

When asked to respond to the more than $50,000 Kim raised in less than two weeks, Alioto said, “Wow.”

“OK, the race is on,” Alioto said.

Michael Barba and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez
Published by
Michael Barba and Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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