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Politics & Policy

President Joe Biden holding ritzy Bay Area fundraiser at Tesla investor’s home

President Joe Biden greets children as he attends the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on April 10, 2023. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images | Source: Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Election season is already in full swing, and 2024 presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle are descending on the Bay Area with dollar signs in their eyes. 

In 2020, spending on the presidential election totaled $5.7 billion, according to Open Secrets. Much of the campaign contributions came from small donors, but millionaires and billionaires played a major role in outside spending by political action committees.

The Bay Area’s tech sector has created a regional donor base flush with cash, and presidential candidates are now making house calls in San Francisco and neighboring cities. Let’s take a closer look at the candidates coming to sing for their supper.

First lady Jill Biden speaks as President Joe Biden, Scarlet Harvey and her family attend the Pride Month celebration on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

June 13 — Jill Biden

First things first, First Lady Jill Biden is not a candidate. But the good doctor—she received a doctorate in education from the University of Delaware in 2007—will have a major role in the 2024 race as she supports her husband’s reelection bid.

Jill Biden paid San Francisco a visit this week, stopping by Manny’s on Tuesday after an early morning SoulCycle session in the Castro. President Biden, who has been dealing with a nagging toothache that required a root canal, is scheduled to be in the Bay Area on Monday.

June 14 — Nikki Haley

The former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations paid a visit to “Silicon Valley” on Wednesday. Where exactly did Nikki Haley go in this amorphous valley in which everyone is presumably rich and drives a Tesla? Based on an invitation leaked to Politico’s Natalie Allison, only those who RSVP’d to a $1,000-a-head luncheon received the address. Those interested in being a Haley host committee member were told they would need to shell out $6,600.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greets supporters following her first campaign event on Feb. 15, 2023, in Charleston, South Carolina. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

One local supporter who might have been in attendance on Wednesday is venture capitalist Tim Draper. Puck’s Theodore Schleifer reported the VC emailed his friends and political contacts to tell them he’s hopping aboard the Haley train.

Draper has famously invested in Tesla, Twitter and many other successful companies, but he might be best known as one of the most bullish backers of Bitcoin. He’s also the same guy who wanted to break up California into six different states

June 15 — Tim Scott

Tim Scott, a U.S. senator from South Carolina, made a resounding entrance to the Republican field in May when he announced his candidacy for president. Too bad nobody could hear him.

Scott is reportedly stopping in San Francisco on Thursday and has already picked up one big tech supporter in Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. If the fundraiser is anything like the event he’ll be attending Friday in San Diego, lunch will go for $1,000 a plate and those wanting to get up close and personal with the senator will be throwing down $3,300 to take part in a private round table.

June 15 — Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The son of Bobby Kennedy, who served as U.S. attorney general and then in the U.S. Senate up until his assassination in 1968, has received the backing of several notable figures in tech, including Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. On Thursday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was set to host a fundraiser in San Francisco with venture capitalists David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, according to Puck.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., seen at a red carpet event in Phoenix, Ariz., on March 18, 2017, is challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic Party nomination in 2024. | Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the few Democrats to openly challenge President Biden, Kennedy Jr.’s campaign has received pushback over his anti-vaccine stance. But he did appear to get the endorsement of Aaron Rodgers after the NFL quarterback emerged from a darkness retreat. This campaign will hinge on how relatable everyone is.

​​June 19 — Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t just ship migrants to Northern California—sometimes he actually flies here himself. DeSantis is scheduled for a stop in the Bay Area on Monday, according to Puck. Just don’t expect Gov. Gavin Newsom to offer the “small, pathetic man” a ride from the airport.

Man in a blue shirt and blue suit stands with a microphone in front of the American flag
Presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to a crowd on June 2, 2023, in South Carolina. | Sean Rayford/Getty Images | Source: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

The DeSantis’ campaign has been making the rounds since his spectacular announcement flop on Twitter, dropping in at Iowa barbecue joints and visiting the U.S. southern border in Arizona. Later in June, he plans to rub elbows with Wall Street execs in Manhattan. 

But his reported trip to the Bay Area could be a big one when it comes to securing the financial support he needs to upend Republican frontrunner and former President Donald Trump. Details of DeSantis’ event and who’s coordinating it haven’t been released, but looking at recent history, venture capitalist David Sacks would be a person of interest.

June 19 — Joe Biden

President Biden will arrive in the Bay Area just a week after his wife. His three-day visit will kick off with a Monday fundraiser that is expected to feature a who’s-who of wealthy Democratic Party players. Venture capitalist and former state Controller Steve Westly—a big investor in Tesla—will be hosting the shindig with his wife, philanthropist Anita Yu, at their Atherton home, a source told The Standard. 

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk on the south lawn of the White House on June 27, 2021. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

An invitation for the event lists tickets running as high as $100,000—the “host” level, which is sold out, includes a clutch bag and a photo with Biden. Guests who want to be a “co-host” need to plunk down $50,000 for a photo (but no clutch, suckas) while the “friend” level runs $25,000 and also gets a photo. Simple “guests” need to pay $6,600 to attend.