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Thursday, February 2, 2023

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Home Featured The real story behind the D8 fundraising reports

The real story behind the D8 fundraising reports

Mandelman raises more than Sheehy, sets up competitive races for June and November

Mandelman at his campaign kickoff

The Chron announced this morning the “winners” in the campaign fundraising races for 2018 and 2019, after the candidates filed their July 31 six-month disclosure statements – and it appeared from the story that Sup. Jeff Sheehy was well ahead of challenger Rafael Mandelman.

And this morning, I got a press release from the Mandelman campaign announcing that Mandelman was actually ahead in the fundraising.

Mandelman at his campaign kickoff

Here’s what’s really going on – and what the early fundraising shows for this crucial D8 seat:

There are two elections for D8 supervisor in 2018. Since Sheehy is an appointed incumbent, by law he has to face the voters at the next scheduled election – and since there’s no 2017 election, that’s June 2018.

The four-year term that Scott Wiener was elected to and Sheehy is filling ends after 2018, so that seat will be up, again, in November.

So if the June election is close, it’s entirely possible that the two will run against each other again in November.

If Mandelman wins in June, he takes the seat immediately, and would run in November as the incumbent. If Sheehy wins in June, he remains the supervisor until the November election, when he can seek another term.

Sheehy has set up one campaign account, apparently for both races. He’s raised $104,000. Mandelman has two accounts, for the two entirely separate races; he’s raised 88,789 for June, and $18,875 for November. That’s a total of $107,000 and change, which puts him ahead of Sheehy – a remarkable feat for a challenger taking on an incumbent who has the full support of the mayor and his entire corporate power structure.

So Mandelman is very much in the running here, and will be able to mount a serious campaign.

The two committees also indicate that Mandelman is thinking ahead — even if he loses in June, if it’s close he will likely try again in the fall.


Campaign contribution reports at the San Francisco level tell you a lot about a candidate. With $500 individual limits, no one contributor can “buy” a candidate’s vote or loyalty, although the top contributors tend to get their phone calls returned.

That’s why you typically see lobbyists donate the maximum to incumbents (and in open seats, to candidates most likely to win).

But patterns emerge that show what interests in town see which candidate as best for their issues and financial concerns.

In the case of the D8 race, here’s what I see from analyzing the patterns:

Mandelman has more donors, and more folks who gave less than $500. I counted 353 people who kicked in money, and many gave $100 or $250. Sheehy has fewer donors – 296 – and more of them gave the maximum.

At least a third of the people who gave money to Sheehy also gave money to Mayor Ed Lee, according to the Mandelman campaign.

Overall, Sheehy has a lot of donors in the health-care business, which is no surprise because he’s worked for UCSF for many years. Mandelman has more donors who are lawyers, which is no surprise because he’s been active in the legal community for years.

Beyond that: Many of the big real-estate and landlord interests in the city gave money to Sheehy – and not to Mandelman. There’s always real-estate money in local politics; when David Campos ran against David Chiu for state Assembly, both got real-estate money (although Chiu got more than Campos). In this race, the real estate folks are clearly more comfortable with Sheehy. Mandelman has a couple of real-estate brokers who chipped in, but not much.

Meanwhile, employees of Zepher Realty gave to Sheehy, as did several people association with mega-landlord Russ Flynn and two members of the Sangiacomo family. Two name partners in the developer law firm Reuben, Junius, and Rose – James Reuben and Andrew Junius – gave the maximum $500.

Chinatown landlord Pius Lee is on the list, as is realtor Victor Makras.

Jim Lazarus, a senior executive with the Chamber of Commerce, is a Sheehy donor. So are two senior employees of the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Former mayoral advisor Tony Winnicker kicked in, as did current Lee communications staffer Frances Hsieh.

You get the picture: Lee’s allies, and the real-estate folks, really want to keep Sheehy in office. But even so, Mandelman has been more than competitive.

“I am grateful to my friends and supporters, and we will be able to raise the funds we need,” Mandelman told me.


None of the reports from the other district supe candidates mean anything right now, since in most of the open seats, top contenders haven’t even declared or started raising money.

The mayor’s race, though – that’s interesting (if not surprising). Mark Leno got into the race very early, partly because everyone knew he was going to run anyway, and partly to get a solid running start on anyone else who might be thinking about that 2019 election. And he has: Leno collected $166,000 in the 12 weeks since he announced his candidacy. Again, not surprising – Leno has always been a good fundraiser. But it’s just a start in what will almost certainly be a campaign costing every candidate upwards of $1 million.

So far, not a lot of tech money in any of the races. Mandelman has a few contributors who work at Google, but the big players have stayed out. That’s because they will probably wait until next spring to create independent expenditure committees that operate with no contribution limits.

That’s where the local tech titans like Ron Conway show what they want to see in local politics. We will be watching.


  1. Tim dismisses so easily Mandy's donors who work at Google. Let's just say if it were Sheehy with those donors – he'd be all over that like white on rice.

  2. What's this about Mandy paying a city employee for campaign work? Mandy's been in so many political campaigns over the years that he has probably perfected this kind of slight-of-hand:

    From Chron today: ""Mandelman paid $10,000 to political consultant Nathan Allbee, who is currently a full-time legislative aide to Supervisor Hillary Ronen. The disclosure prompted questions from board clerk Angela Calvillo, who said she confronted Allbee after hearing talk in City Hall.""

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