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Politics & Policy

San Francisco Mayor Breed’s reelection campaign sitting on $298K, officials say

Mayor London Breed talks with the Jewish community at the JCCSF Fitness Center about her recent trip to Israel in San Francisco on June 21, 2023. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s road to reelection could be rocky if polling is to be trusted, but numbers released by her campaign Monday show she can still cast a wide fundraising net.

Between March 1 and the end of June, Breed reeled in more than $200,000 from 667 contributors, according to her campaign. With money raised earlier in the year and in 2022—Breed was initially expected to run for reelection this fall—the mayor has now accumulated more than $451,000 total from 1,581 donors. Of that amount, she retained $298,382 as of July 1 after paying for staff and logistical costs for fundraising. 

“While the mayor is laser-focused on bringing the city back to full strength, we at the campaign are thrilled by the strong show of support and the great success we had in fundraising over a single quarter,” Maggie Muir, a campaign consultant for Breed, said in a statement.

Breed’s campaign released the numbers to The Standard ahead of paperwork being processed Monday night by the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

Mayor London Breed claps during the SFPD Police Officer of the Month Ceremony at City Hall on July 26, 2023. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The majority of donations to the mayor (61%) have come from San Franciscans, according to the campaign, while low-dollar donations of less than $250 accounted for 57% of contributions. Notable donors included: Jeremy Stoppelman, founder of Yelp; Lateefah Simon, a BART director; Susie Tompkins Buell, the founder of North Face and a national Democratic donor; John Pritzker, a philanthropist and head of the John Pritzker Family Fund; and Andrea Dew Steele, founder of Emerge California. 

Breed’s campaign expects to qualify for $300,000 in public matching funds by the end of August. As an incumbent, the mayor can receive up to $1.185 million in total matching funds, while challengers can qualify for up to $1.2 million.

Breed first became mayor in an acting role in the early hours of Dec. 12, 2017, after Mayor Ed Lee suffered a heart attack the prior evening while grocery shopping. Seven weeks after Lee’s death, the Board of Supervisors held a vote to appoint then-Supervisor Mark Farrell as interim mayor, which enraged Breed’s supporters. She went on to build a campaign that brought together a diverse set of interests and regained the mayorship—and became San Francisco’s 45th Mayor—by defeating Mark Leno and Jane Kim in a special election in June 2018.

Breed, a San Francisco native who grew up in public housing in the city’s Western Addition, breezed to reelection in 2019, winning more than 70% of the vote. But many of the plans she had for a first term were shelved due to the pandemic. Breed made a decision to shut down San Francisco before the rest of the Bay Area and nation, and she received high marks in those fraught early days. Six months into the pandemic, San Francisco had the lowest per capita death rate among the nation’s largest cities. 

However, while people stayed confined at home, the city saw the death toll from the drug crisis skyrocket, and issues around homelessness and public safety took center stage in four elections last year. A poll this spring found that more than three-quarters of voters believe the city is headed down the wrong track.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (center) and city supervisors at a Board of Supervisors meeting held in UN Plaza on May 23, 2023. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

Breed was expected to run for reelection this fall, but voters approved Proposition H last November to move mayoral elections to presidential years. The extended runway to 2024 has handed Breed a more treacherous path to reelection, as polling shows the mayor’s approval ratings have been falling. 

Potential opponents have started lining up, though only one true challenger has yet to formally roll out a campaign. 

Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who represents the Excelsior and other neighborhoods on the south side of the city, filed papers to run for mayor in May. His campaign recently provided The Standard with early fundraising figures, which had yet to be listed on the SF Ethics Commission’s website Monday evening. Safaí reportedly raised almost $149,000 from 380 donors in less than two months. The contributions were split almost evenly between locals—52% of contributions came from San Franciscans—and people living outside of the city, according to the campaign.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received since announcing our campaign for mayor,” Safaí said in a statement last week. “Every day, San Franciscans tell me they want our city to be the safe, clean, vibrant city they’ve always known—and they know it’s going to take a change in leadership to get us there.”

Daniel Lurie, the founder of anti-poverty nonprofit Tipping Point Community and an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, also appears poised to launch a campaign this fall. He’s been working with political consultant Tyler Law, a partner at Thematic Campaigns, whose firm has handled state and national races, including presidential campaigns for Barack Obama and Pete Buttigieg. 

Lurie declined to comment when The Standard broke the news of his expected candidacy.