Newsom scandals can’t curb campaign cash

News of Mayor Gavin Newsom’s affair with his secretary, who was also the wife of his campaign manager, may have stopped the presses earlier this year, but the campaign cash kept rolling in.

To date, Newsom has raised just more than $1.5 million for his November 2007 re-election campaign — 26 percent less than the $2.1 million brought in during the same time period for his 2003 run for office. Campaign finance statements, which listed contributions received from January to June of this year, were made public this week.

Indeed, Newsom’s fundraising results seem to reveal that the double-whammy scandal that began on Feb. 1 of this year — when he admitted to a relationship with the wife of a top adviser, adding one week later that he had “problems with alcohol” — didn’t hurt his campaign momentum.

Although Newsom’s campaign posted one contribution on Feb. 1, no others are noted on the financial statements until Feb. 5, when money began pouring back in.

“There were a couple of days where we weren’t opening the mail, we were busy with other issues,” said Newsom’s current campaign manager, Eric Jaye, who added that in the days following the news of the affair, people who attended Newsom fundraisers were told that donations were not required.

This campaign could be considered significantly different than the last race, however, since Newsom is currently facing no formidable opposition. More than two dozen candidates have declared a desire to hold the executive office, but few have made big public splashes.

To date, the strongest competitor following Newsom, in terms of fundraising, is former Supervisor Tony Hall, who brought in more than $40,000, after announcing he was running in May.

Talk that former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez — who ran against Newsom in 2003 — has subsided after the Green Party member publicly stated this week that he would not run.

That Newsom has continued to raise funds may actually be the reason no one else has jumped into the race, said David McCuen, a professor of political science at Sonoma State University.

“You raise money to send a message to people [that] it’s business as usual. He’s as popular as he ever was,” McCuen said.

Jaye did not rule out the possibility of having to raise another $5.9 million, as Newsom did for the 2003 race — noting that in 1999, Supervisor Tom Ammiano was a last-minute write-in candidate who pushed incumbent Willie Brown into a run-off, and Gonzalez filed his candidacy on the last day possible for getting on the ballot in 2003. The filing deadline this year is Aug. 10.

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?

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