In just seven weeks, Mayor Ed Lee has managed to raise more money for his campaign than his opponents — including those who have been running for mayor for more than a year.
About 1,900 donors filled up Lee’s war chest in the weeks following the mayor’s Aug. 8 entrance into the race in pursuit of a full four-year term. The contributions totaled $748,008, according to campaign finance filings filed Thursday with the Ethics Commission covering the period between July 1 and Sept. 24.
Lee, seen as the favorite in the battle to be San Francisco’s next elected mayor, surpassed the fundraising totals of candidates such as former Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who launched his bid for The City’s top elected office in 2009, and state Sen. Leland Yee and City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who began raising cash last year. Dufty has raised $616,800 so far, Yee has raised $586,550 and Herrera has collected $718,723 in contributions, the second highest of the 11 main mayoral candidates behind Lee.
Unlike most of the other main contenders, Lee is not accepting public financing, a source of matching funds that has helped boost the war chests of other mayoral candidates. On top of Herrera’s contributions, he has received nearly $600,000 in matching public funds. Candidates receiving public financing agree not to spend more than $1,475,000 in both private and public funds. They can receive up to $900,000 in public funds.
Political consultant Jim Ross, who ran Gavin Newsom’s first mayoral election, said Lee’s fundraising performance was “really remarkable,” especially given that Lee has never run for public office before. He has worked as a city government employee for 20 years.
“There’s a lot of people who have an interest in how The City is run,” Ross said of the contributor list. Helping Lee’s fundraising effort is the power of incumbency. Lee receives contributions from those who would like to see his support “on an issue, idea, or proposal” or “they support his policies,” which were manifested as interim mayor since January, according to Ross.
The contributor list includes those with real estate firms, contractors, construction firms, venture capitalists, tech workers and numerous city government employees.
Lee’s campaign has spent a lot of the money raised. The campaign reported having $392,207 remaining in cash, but that doesn’t include $115,758 in debt.
“We’re raising money and spending it at exactly the right time,” Lee’s campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker said. “We’ll continue to raise what we need.”
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has seemingly been the most conservative spender of candidates so far. With $567,884 sitting in his war chest, he has the most cash on hand.
The election is Nov. 8.