Influence peddlers flexing financial muscle in San Francisco races

Money is starting to flow to help persuade voters in the Board of Supervisors’ races in November.

A labor union group and a pro-development group are among the first of the private interest groups funneling money into local supervisorial races by paying for political advertisements that have started to fill up mailboxes and hang on entryway door knobs.

“First and foremost, it’s name recognition,” political analyst David Latterman said of the mailers. “People don’t vote for people they haven’t heard of. That’s rule No. 1.”

Latterman, who is involved in several of the races, said given their contentious nature, many more mailers are expected.

Seven seats on the board are up for grabs, with progressives seeking to regain and build on their majority rule against moderates, who are more aligned with Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Campaign bouts have started to see so-called independent expenditures, political spending made by those not directly tied to the candidate’s campaign, seeking to sway voters.

The latest independent-expenditure filings with the Ethics Commission show the San Francisco Labor Council has spent $20,765 on mailers for three progressive candidates: District 3’s David Chiu, District 1’s Eric Mar and District 11’s John Avalos.

The Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco Political Action Committee, or BOMA S.F., has spent thousands on mailers for moderate candidates: District 1’s Sue Lee, District 11’s Ahsha Safai and District 3’s Joseph Alioto Jr., Claudine Cheng and Mike DeNunzio. The combined spending on political mailers by BOMA S.F. totals $42,370.

Corey Cook, political science professor at the University of San Francisco, said “the reality is these things don’t really have any effect” on who voters cast their ballot for. Cook said, however, that they could have a “large impact” on getting voters to vote on local measures and local elections. A large number of voters are expected to hit the polls this November because of the presidential election, but the lengthy ballot may cause some to simply not weigh in on local measures or elections and the mailers could increase their likelihood to do otherwise, Cook said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Following the paper trail

Independent spending on mailers for supervisorial candidates mounts.

S.F. Labor Council: David Chiu (D-3), $7,427.88; Eric Mar (D-1), $7,206.88; John Avalos (D-11), $6,131.08

BOMA S.F.: Sue Lee (D-1), $8,744.37; Ahsha Safai (D-11), $9,244.37; Joseph Alioto Jr. (D-3), $8,127.29; Claudine Cheng (D-3), $8,127.29; Mike DeNunzio (D-3), $8,127.29

Source: Ethics Commission

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