Campaign cash still flows during lackluster election cycle

Supporters of Props. B&C (right) have significantly outspent opponents of the 8 Washington ballot measures.
Ethics Commission

We may be headed for the most widely ignored election in many years on Nov. 5 — with very low turnout expected to decide the four measures and validate the four largely unopposed incumbent officeholders — but that hasn’t stopped the regular flood of campaign contributions.

The biggest spending this cycle has been by proponents of the 8 Washington waterfront luxury condo project, who have spent at least $857,224 so far to pass either Props. B or C, according to filings with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. San Franciscans for Parks, Jobs and Housing has been funded primarily by the project developers Pacific Waterfront Partners (which just kicked in another $200,000 late contribution on Oct. 11) and contractor Cahill Construction, although even Mayor Ed Lee's campaign committee recently kicked some cash to the effort.

By contrast, the opposition group to the project and measures, No Wall on the Northeast Waterfront, has spent less than half what the developers have, or just over $400,000. But the group is still sitting on the some of the $553,626 that it’s raised so far, waiting for the home stretch. It's campaign also got a boost today with the San Francisco Examiner endorsed the No on Props. B&C position, surprising some 8 Washington supporters. 

Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu has no opposition in her first election since being appointed to the job earlier this year, but that hasn’t stopped her prodigious fundraising, taking in $177,425 and sitting on more than $84,000 in the bank as of Sept. 26. Perhaps Chu and her treasurer Jim Sutton — a bag man for various campaigns and schemes cooked up downtown — are flexing their muscles with an eye toward the future.

Another darling of downtown and the Mayor’s Office, Dist. 4 Sup. Katy Tang, has also been raising big money against only token opposition, taking in $169,329 for this year’s race. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has also raised a significant $127,875 for his one-horse race.

But unopposed Treasurer-Tax Collector Jose Cisneros has kept his fundraising in the realm the reasonable this year, collecting $47,441, and perhaps demonstrating the fiscal prudence that we hope to see in someone of his position.

The next round of pre-election campaign finance disclosures are due Oct. 24. For information on all the measures and candidates, read our endorsements here.