Candidates for District 8 Supervisor - the seat formerly held by Harvey Milk - have raised more money than all the other candidates in all the other supervisorsâ€™ races across San Francisco combined. In reports filed with the San Francisco Ethics Com-mission on Feb. 1, the four primary candidates for the District 8 Supervisor seat have raised a total of $161,939.
Candidate Scott Wiener has also raised eyebrows with a $10,000 contribution from SFBSC Manage-ment, a company that runs strip clubs in North Beach.
Rebecca Prozan won the District 8 fundraising race, bringing in a total of $54,391, a remarkable sum for a first-time candidate this early in the process. â€śFrankly, I canâ€™t believe how well we did,â€ť said Prozan
Prozan is shadowed closely by Wiener, who raised $51,134 for the seat. Laura Spanjian brought in $35,435 and Rafael Mandleman raised $20,979.
In addition to running for District 8 Supervisor, Wiener, Spanjian and Mandleman are running for Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC); a separate election that will be part of the June primary ballot (the Supervisor election is in November). This allows them to raise funds separately for a DCCC post, and unlike the $500 contribution limit for supervisor, there are no limits on individual contributions for the DCCC, a statewide office.
This has become a way to get around campaign spending limits for San Francisco candidates. In the last election, David Campos and David Chiu employed the same strategy to win their seats on the Board of Supervisors. Using the â€śno limitsâ€ť fundraising for DCCC, a candidate is able to raise vast sums of money for DCCC and spend it getting their names out there for voters and paying campaign consultants, etc. Presumably, they do a strict accounting to make sure the money is spent on DCCC, but running a lavish campaign in June before a different November election has proved strategically successful in the crowded fields of district elections.
So in looking at their supervisor war chests, itâ€™s also important to take into account the money they have raised for DCCC.
Thatâ€™s where the $10,000 strip club money comes in. In addition to his $51,134 Supervisor war chest, Wiener has piled on another $48,406 for DCCC, for a fundraising total of $99,540. Wiener also has a $5,000 donation from another strip club management company among his DCCC monies. His other largest contribution is $3,000, which he received from his Aunt Leah.
All four candidates claim to lead the pack in grassroots contributions: Spanjian - whose press release announced â€śRaises $35,435 from 300 Individual Donorsâ€ť - reports 234 donors on her filing. Prozan has 237 donors to her campaign. Wiener cites the â€śbreadthâ€ť of his donors. His forms indicate there are 172 of them. Mandleman points out that heâ€™s raised more money than any progressive candidate has in the past at this stage in the race. He has 57 donors on his report.
Still, Mandleman says he has â€śjust begun,â€ť and heâ€™s going to run a good campaign with the money he has. â€śI donâ€™t expect to match Scott,â€ť but he points out that in the Gavin Newsom/Matt Gonzales mayoral election, District 8 voted for Gonzales by a wide margin. And Gonzales didnâ€™t have nearly the funds that Newsom had.
Wienerâ€™s list of contributors is heavily peppered with real estate and property owner interests. He has been criticized for raising money outside the district - specifically with hosting a fundraiser in Pacific Heights, but he says, â€śIâ€™m proud of what we were able to do - especially the breadth of the fundraising.â€ť In his fundraising for supervisor, â€śNinety percent of the donations came from San Francisco residents and 50 percent from District 8 residents - so itâ€™s very grassroots kind of fundraising.â€ť And of his 25 campaign events to date, â€śTwenty-three have been in the District,â€ť and of the other two, one was two blocks outside District lines and the other was the Pacific Heights event.
Still, concerns have been raised about the North Beach strip club donations, which one District 8 candidate described as â€śicky,â€ť while another wondered how the â€śhousewives in Noe Valley would feel about that.â€ť Wiener maintains that an active role in working on issues surrounding San Francisco nightlife led to the North Beach management companyâ€™s donation to his campaign.
Following Wienerâ€™s combined DCCC and supervisor war chests of almost $100,000 is Prozanâ€™s supervisor campaign funds of $54,000. Although Mandleman seems way behind with this $21,000 funds raised, heâ€™s also raised another $13,000 for DCCC, bringing his total to $34,000. Spanjian has only raised $3,400 for DCCC, so her $38,000 total closely matches Mandleman.
Spanjian is limiting her contributions to $150 each, which none of the other candidates are doing. However, she will go back to her supervisor donors to contribute the same amount to her DCCC race, so there will effectively be a $300 limit per donor.
What makes District 8 unique in this election cycle is what the candidates have in common: theyâ€™re all gay men or lesbians; theyâ€™re all attorneys, theyâ€™re all Jewish, and theyâ€™re all well-known and respected for their history of activism in the city. The two gay men running are Wiener and Mandelman. Wiener has longstanding affiliation with the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and is generally seen as the most conservative of the candidates; Mandelman is the former president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and is considered the most progressive candidate in the race.
The two lesbians in the race, Spanjian and Prozan, have both been past presidents of the Alice club. Prozan is an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco and Spanjian is Assistant General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Both are seen as progressive, Spanjian a bit more so. Spanjian has a long track record of advocating for civil rights, social justice, environmental stewardship and government efficiency. Prozan is more of a pragmatist; she knows city government inside and out as the former liaison to the LGBT community for Mayor Willie Brown and she knows how to get things done. Her business card features her name, her phone number and e-mail, and the words, â€śCall Prozan. Sheâ€™ll know what to do.â€ť
Itâ€™s still an open question whether a lesbian can win in District 8, which has many more gay men.
Over in District 6, progressive lesbian Debra Walker is the handsâ€™down front runner in a sea of 20 candidates for the seat being vacated by the termed-out Chris Daly. Walker is a full-time artist, she serves as a SF Building Commissioner, is a former Milk Club president, a long-time land use and housing activist, and a state Democratic Party official. The District 6 battle has been described as â€śhers to lose.â€ť Walker has raised $28,864 for her race. Sheâ€™s also running for DCCC, where sheâ€™s raised another $21,165, giving her a total of $50,029. None of the other candidates have raised any significant amounts of money.
However there are two late entries in the race that may prove significant. Former Police Commissioner Theresa Sparks has moved to the district and entered the race, as has School Board member Jane Kim. Neither have raised funds yet, but both will be strong candidates. Kim is in many ways a heterosexual version of Walker. Theresa Sparks will be more moderate. Progressives fear that their votes will be split between Kim and Walker and the more moderate Sparks could win with the vote divided.
Another late entry into the District 6 race is the drag queen activist Anna Conda. Sheâ€™s turning her activism to elective office for the first time. Her grassroots politics are well thought out, and she promises to enliven the race.