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Politics & Policy

Campos falters as Mahmood, Haney lead in Assembly District 17 fundraising

New campaign finance numbers filed Monday show former San Francisco Supervisor David Campos’ campaign falling behind in fundraising in the state Assembly District 17 race, while startup founder Bilal Mahmood and current Supervisor Matt Haney appear to be pulling away from the pack. 

While contributions continued pouring in throughout January and will pile up over the next two weeks leading up to the Feb. 15 special election, Monday’s updated numbers paint a more complete picture of who has the most spending power. 

The primary election this month is to replace David Chiu, who relinquished his post in the Assembly after being appointed to serve as San Francisco’s city attorney. If no one receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will face off April 19 to finish off the rest of Chiu’s term through the end of this year. 

In disclosure forms summing up all campaign bundling and spending for 2021, Haney’s special election campaign reported more than $448,000 raised by the end of last year. He has tacked on an additional $73,300 in 2022, bringing the total to $521,300.

However, Haney also had a previous Assembly campaign account established for the June and November elections, and he raised $358,000. He told The Standard that $200,000 of that money was transferred over to his special election account and his total fundraising for the Feb. 15 race is closer to $700,000 total. He had an $18,800 cash balance in his general election account as of the end of last year.

Records show Haney—who also has massive support from super PACs, which are not limited in how much they can spend independently supporting or opposing candidates—used his advantage as a sitting elected official to rally support from the business community in the critical fourth quarter of the year. 

"This is a race where we needed a lot of people to help us quickly, and they’ve done that," Haney said.

Coming in with similarly deep pockets to start the year is Mahmood, who raised over $454,500. He also got a big boost of $319,200 at the start of this year for a total of $773,739 in his pocket. Of course, more than half of those funds, $400,003, was Mahmood’s own money, most of which he plunked down just last month. 

“I think as a first-time candidate raising so much across the city proves there is a lot of momentum around our race,” Mahmood said. 

Even without using his own money, Mahmood’s 2021 contributions have surprisingly outpaced Campos’ $359,200—a total that includes money raised for a previously planned run in 2026. Campos’ campaign manager said the 2026 committee was set up in the summer of 2021. Campos has raised an additional $47,100 since Jan. 1, bringing his current total fundraising to $407,300. 

But Campos said his total contributions are closer to $500,000 when accounting for small-dollar donations raised this year that aren’t yet recorded by the Secretary of State. The January numbers only reflect contributions above $1,000, which must be reported within 24 hours. 

“I will have raised more money for this primary than the last one, even though I had to do it in half the time with no corporate contributions,” Campos said. 

All three candidates are well ahead of Thea Selby, who raised just over $92,400 in 2021 and added $16,800 last month. Selby, a member of the City College Board of Trustees, acknowledged her low fundraising numbers in a text message to The Standard.

“Female candidates have historically been underestimated and underfunded but it's not big money that wins this race—it's the votes and voices of the AD17 neighbors and local businesses I've worked with for years,” Selby wrote.

The January numbers only reflect contributions above $1,000, which must be reported within 24 hours. 

Campos, who previously served on the Board of Supervisors, is not accepting campaign contributions from corporations for the special election, which seems to have limited his ability to match the fundraising totals he had in his 2014 campaign.

“There is a reason why we don’t have a Medicare for All, a Green New Deal or a true living wage,” Campos’ Campaign Manager Daniel Anderson told The Standard. “And that reason is a system of campaign finance that allows corporations to fund campaigns. We are breaking that mold right here and right now.”

The circumstances of this special election are especially peculiar, as Chiu’s resignation last year created a race that only allows the winner to serve out the rest of this year. Separate elections for the AD 17 seat will occur in June and November for a two-year term running through 2024.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect contributions Supervisor Matt Haney raised in a general election campaign account before the special election was declared, as well as comments from David Campos on small-dollar contributions his campaign collected.