Running a campaign — even when virtually unopposed — comes with a hefty price tag.

Since January, District 9 Supervisor David Campos has spent $108,263 on items ranging from consultants’ fees and campaign workers’ salaries to slate mailers, according to public finance disclosure statements provided by the San Francisco Ethics Commission.

His expenses, however, are nearly offset by contributions made to his reelection committee. Campos raised $98,496 since January, nearly three times the amount he took in during the same period in 2008, when he faced six other contenders for the seat.

And he has likely brought in even more in the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 general election. A more complete data set will be released in the weeks following the election.

Contributions to Campos’s 2008 campaign — in the same time frame between January and October — totaled $36,659, according to finance reports. He also received $73,331 in public financing through a city program that provides funds for candidates running for the Board of Supervisors.

Today, Campos’ war chest is the fourth largest among the incumbent supervisors running for reelection.

District 3 Supervisor David Chiu, whose reelection committee has collected about $235,000, leads in contributions. He is followed by District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, who raised nearly $136,000; District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague with about $123,000; and unopposed District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, who raised nearly $60,000.

Donors who contribute directly to candidates or committees are limited to $500 per calendar year. At least 118 contributors have made the maximum donation to Campos’s reelection committee since January.

The finance reports reveal that of the 363 total contributions made to Campos’s reelection committee this year:

  • 281 were made in San Francisco
  • 86 were made from a 94110 zip code (which covers the majority of the Mission District)
  • 78 were made outside San Francisco but in California
  • 4 were made outside California

Individual donations make up an overwhelming majority of contributions. Among the hundreds of donors disclosed in the finance reports, notable names include:

  • $500: Tom Ammiano, state assemblyman (D-13)
  • $500: Mark Pincus, cofounder of Zynga
  • $500: Peter Acworth, owner of
  • $500: Kenneth McNeely, president of AT&T California
  • $300: Jeff Adachi, San Francisco public defender
  • $250: Barbara Garcia, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health
  • $250: Tom Bates, mayor of Berkeley
  • $100: Luis Granados, executive director of MEDA

The data also reveals that individuals with ties to real estate, contracting and development firms account for at least 10 percent of all contributions.

Similarly, contributions made by individuals listed as political consultants, analysts or strategists constitute at least 6 percent of total contributions to Campos’ committee.

Thirteen donations by parties and committees account for less than 6 percent of all contributions since January. Large-scale donors include:

  • $500: Bay Area Union Labor Party
  • $500: California Nurses PAC
  • $500: San Francisco Firefighters PAC
  • $500: San Francisco Municipal Executives’ Association
  • $500: San Francisco Apartment Association

The most recent committee finance reports also show that Campos is no longer running unopposed in District 9. Bernal Heights video editor Bud Ryerson, 63, filed a write-in candidacy in mid-October.

In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Ryerson said he was motivated to enter the race after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to reinstate suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Oct. 9. He calls Campos’ vote — one of four in favor of Mirkarimi’s retention — “despicable.”

Ryerson acknowledged his slim chances at the polls, but emphasized his campaign will send one overall message: San Francisco has a zero-tolerance policy for domestic violence. His campaign has spent under $100 — on posters, fliers and a DVD project — and has yet to receive a contribution.

“My campaign is pretty simple; to send a message to David Campos in the only language I think he understands: in votes,” said Ryerson, who voted for Campos in 2008. “If you don’t know me, don’t trust me, don’t want to vote for me, [I understand]. But please don’t vote for Campos.”

Campos said Ryerson’s candidacy will not affect his campaign strategy.

“It’s part of the democratic process,” Campos said. “We have been running a hard campaign with or without opposition … I think the best thing for us is to focus on what we’re doing and to run as hard as we can.”

Yousur Alhlou

Yousur Alhlou lives in the Bay Area and loves covering politics in the Mission.

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  1. I received an 8-page glossy Campos campaign mailer, more elaborate than anything from any other candidate or issue, with professional photos and a substantial amount of text. It wasn’t just a flyer, it was almost a mini-book. I am BAFFLED why anyone running unopposed would spend that kind of money to campaign. I can think of much better uses for that money in our district. ML: thanks for highlighting this issue.

  2. I think Campos is spending the money to heighten his name recognition in aticipation for a run for higher office. Most likely, Ammiano’s State Assembly seat; maybe, a citywide office, like City Attorney or even Mayor.

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