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Politics & Policy

Breed challenger hauls in $200K in first 2 days of campaign

A man with slicked-back hair listens attentively to someone out of frame, in a blurred-industrial-setting background.
Mark Farrell, a former San Francisco mayor and supervisor, raised almost $200,000 in the first two days of his challenge to Mayor London Breed, according to his campaign. | Source: Estefany Gonzalez/The Standard

San Francisco’s mayor’s race still has more than eight months to go until the finish line, but it seems guaranteed to become the most expensive in city history now that Mark Farrell has entered the chat.

After formally announcing his candidacy on Tuesday, the former mayor and supervisor needed just 48 hours to raise $200,000, according to his campaign. Farrell reportedly pooled this money from almost 500 separate contributions, with 70% of donors residing in San Francisco.

“This incredible showing of early support demonstrates that voters are inspired by his vision for a safer, cleaner and more vibrant San Francisco,” said Jade Tu, Farrell’s campaign manager, in a statement.

That $200,000 figure would bring the total fundraising by mayoral candidates and outside committees to more than $5 million. Through its public matching program, the city is expected to inject another $4.8 million into the race. Mayoral candidates must meet certain thresholds to unlock up to $1.2 million in public financing, and all four major candidates—Mayor London Breed, Farrell, Supervisor Ahsha Safaí and nonprofit founder Daniel Lurie—appear likely to do so. 

Combining the above figures and money reported in the most recently available campaign filings—and presuming all of this money gets spent—the total of $9.8 million would smash the record-setting $8.4 million spent in the 2018 special election Breed won.

Of course, with all eyes focused on the March primary and several notable ballot measures, the money coming into the mayor’s race seems likely to jump substantially in the summertime.

Farrell’s sprint out of the gates was expected, as he is a native San Franciscan who attended the prestigious—and politically connected—St. Ignatius College Preparatory School before launching a career as an attorney, venture capitalist and elected official. He served seven years as a supervisor for the Marina and surrounding neighborhoods before being appointed the city’s 44th mayor following the death of Mayor Ed Lee in December 2017. He served roughly six months in that role.

Early messaging coming out of the Farrell camp suggests he will tack right of Breed, beating the drum on public safety and framing the mayor’s approach to homelessness and the local economy as a failure. Farrell has said he would fire the police chief in one of his first actions as mayor and clear all large homeless encampments within a year. He also said he would slash local business taxes and reopen Market Street to cars.

The early fundraising totals for Farrell should dispel speculation that he and Lurie—an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune whose friends and family have already raised millions in support of his mayoral bid—will have trouble fundraising due to an overlap in supporters. There is clearly more than enough money to go around in San Francisco, especially with new polling showing that 72% of residents believe the city is headed down the wrong track.

Farrell’s campaign noted that it has also scheduled 85 house parties for the coming weeks and months to spread his message and, of course, collect a little cash.