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Politics & Policy

Who’s spending money: Donors pile into District 6 race

District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey (left) and candidate for District 6 Supervisor Honey Mohogany (right) during a debate at The San Francisco Standard offices on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. | Noah Berger for The Standard

The money race for District 6 Supervisor has shifted into high gear as both campaigns move past the $400,000 mark, and third-party spending is very much in play. 

Honey Mahogany—a former aide to former supervisor and current Assemblymember Matt Haney—has received nearly $474,000 to date in her race to represent SoMa, Mission Bay and neighboring areas, putting her campaign war chest in the lead. Her campaign has spent almost $234,000 so far. 

She’s running to unseat appointed incumbent Supervisor Matt Dorsey, who has brought in about $430,000 so far, with $285,000 spent.

More than half of the campaigns’ war chests came from public financing: Both of the candidates received over $250,000 from the city.

Both Dorsey and Mahogany have been campaigning on street crime, the drug overdose and homelessness problems in SoMa and adjacent neighborhoods, and housing—in many ways differing more in style rather than substance on those issues. Put another way, the real difference between the candidates lies in their political allegiances. 

Incumbent Dorsey was appointed by Mayor London Breed after his predecessor Matt Haney was elected to represent California’s Assembly District 17. Dorsey comes to the job from decades of experience in strategic communications for campaigns and city agencies, most recently the San Francisco Police Department. He’s seen as the choice of the city’s political center.

Supporters of Supervisor Matt Dorsey and candidate Honey Mahogany listen during a debate for District 6 supervisor candidates at The San Francisco Standard offices on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in San Francisco. | Noah Berger for The Standard

Meanwhile, Mahogany is the firm standard bearer of the city’s progressive political faction, which forms the majority of the Board of Supervisors and leadership of the local Democratic Party—of which she herself is chair. As potentially the first out trans supervisor, she’s also attracted endorsements from high-profile figures like Jane Fonda.

Another factor is how the recent redistricting process will affect the outcome of this race. 

District 6, which formerly encompassed the Tenderloin and Civic Center, has historically been controlled by progressives. Redistricting shifted those communities to District 5, so it’s assumed that redeveloped neighborhoods in SoMa and Mission Bay will now carry more weight politically.

The factional battle lines are playing out in independent expenditures—or third-party, special interest spending that the candidates legally cannot coordinate with. 

These include close to $40,000 in mailers and web advertising on behalf of Mahogany by Labor Neighbor—the political action committee of the San Francisco Labor Council, the umbrella organization for most of the city’s unions. The San Francisco Women’s Political Committee has also shelled out for online ads supporting Mahogany to the tune of $15,000. Moderate group GrowSF has spent $14,644 so far on a mailer and online and social media ads supporting Dorsey. 

Interestingly, the Alice B. Toklas LGBTQ Democratic Club PAC has spent in support of both candidates in the form of billboards—a medium it has traditionally used to promulgate its endorsements. 

Alice laid out $4,369 on billboards promoting Dorsey, and $1,972 in support of Mahogany, reflecting the club’s ranked-choice voting endorsements.