Breakdown: Source of Money for D-1 Supervisor Candidates

By Thomas K. Pendergast

The race for the next District 1 supervisor is heating up as election day in November draws closer. Three candidates are emerging as the top fundraisers for their respective campaigns; two of them are running neck-and-neck for the lead.

Records posted on the San Francisco Ethics Commission website show that as of Aug. 25, Marjan Philhour has gathered $253,931 of campaign money, narrowly beating out Connie Chan, who has received $253,697 for her campaign coffers. David Lee is running in third for fundraising with $163,164 raised.

When only public financing is included and monetary donations are excluded, the lead reverses by a wider margin. The commission’s website shows that Chan has received $193,446 in public financing, while Philhour has received $178,231 and Lee has received $137,700. Information about public financing rules and requirements can be found at sfethics.org.

The details of the monetary contributions, however, might give a rough idea of who is actually supporting the Philhour and Chan campaigns with individual monetary contributions. 

An analysis of data available on the commission’s website shows some notable differences in who is supporting whom, starting with the zip codes listed for each donor.

The limit for individual donations to a San Francisco supervisor’s campaign is $500. However, the sheer volume of individual donors contributing $200 or less – with many sending in increments of $25, $50 or $100 – makes a full count impractical. So, for this analysis only donations of $250 or more were counted. 

Of those who donated $250 or more to Connie Chan’s campaign, 27.5% were listed in the 94121 zip code, which is the part of the Richmond District that covers areas west of 17th Avenue to the ocean. 

East of 17th Avenue to Presidio Avenue is the 94118 zip code. This part of the Richmond District makes up 9% percent of Chan’s donations. 

Donations of $250 or more to Philhour’s campaign are more evenly distributed between these two zip codes, with 11% of donations coming from the 94121 zip code and 15% from the 94118 zip code. 

Immediately east of that area is the 94115 zip code, which covers Pacific Heights and the area around Marcus Garvey Square out to Laguna Street. Philhour got 9% of her donations at or above $250 from that zip code, while Chan received a single donation above $250 ($350) listing that zip code. 

The count almost flips in the 94117 zip code, east of Golden Gate Park out to Webster Street, with Chan getting 5% of her donations at or above $250 from there, while Philhour received a single donation of $250.  

Across Golden Gate Park in the Sunset District are the zip codes 94122 and 94116. Philhour received 9% of her funds donated at or above $250 from those two zip codes, while Chan got 6% of hers from there. 

Moving away from the west side it gets more complicated and lopsided. 

Zip codes 94102 through 94109 cover much of the northeast side of the City, including Hayes Valley, Tenderloin, SOMA, Downtown-Financial District, Mission Bay and Russian Hill. The combination of these zip codes shows that almost 18% of individual donations at or above $250 came into Philhour’s coffers from them. Chan, however, received a little less than 4% from there. 

Moving south into 94110 and 94112, the Mission District and Bernal Heights, the situation almost reverses with Chan receiving 11% for her campaign and Philhour getting 4% of her donations of $250 or above. 

From zip codes 94127, 94131 and 94132 (areas covering Mt. Davidson, St. Francis Wood, Twin Peaks, Glen Park and Park Merced, south of Sloat Boulevard), Philhour received 9% of her donations at or greater than $250; Chan got a little under 8%. 

Zip codes from out of the City entirely show Chan receiving 18% of her share of the people donating at or above $250, while Philhour received 13%. 

About 20% of those donating at or above $250 to Chan’s campaign work for a local, state or federal government entity. The same group represented 14% of Philhour’s contributors. 

Almost 13% of Philhour’s individual donors at or above $250 work in jobs related to real estate, while Chan has less than 3% from that category. 

Among individuals from other industries or services who donated at or above $250, Philhour received almost 11% from those in technology-related companies; 8% came from people employed in financial services; 6% from law firm employees; 5% from consulting firms and 4% each from education and medical employees. 

Of those at or above $250 in donations, Chan received almost 8% from those in technology-related companies; a single donation from an employee of a financial service; two from law firm employees; none from employees of consulting firms; 6% from education employees and one from a medical employee. 

The commission’s records also listed several backers from City Hall. 

District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin gave the maximum $500 to Chan’s campaign. Donations of $250 each came from District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, former District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar and former District 11 Supervisor John Avalos. 

Philhour’s campaign received $500 from former District 3 supervisor and now California State Assemblymember David Chiu. Donations of $250 each came from former District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and Chair of the California State Board of Equalization Malia Cohen, a former supervisor for District 10. 

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