Cash is flooding into San Jose’s mayoral race—a sign the election is going to prove costly for all contenders.
Councilmember Matt Mahan leads the way, raising $504,000 from roughly 1,000 donors during the first 23 days of San Jose’s fundraising period. Mahan, a tech entrepreneur who announced his mayoral campaign a little over a year after being elected to the City Council, credits his early fundraising success to peer-to-peer organizing.
“The most promising sign of support we’ve seen has been the dozens of neighbors across the city who have already organized or signed up to organize a house party to introduce our campaign to their neighbors,” Mahan told San José Spotlight. “We’re meeting hundreds of San Joseans through these grassroots events.”
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez trails behind Mahan’s fundraising with $474,000 from 955 donations. In an email to her supporters, Chavez said her campaign has drawn supporters across San Jose, from Berryessa to Willow Glen, and throughout the greater Bay Area.
Chavez, who did not respond to requests for comment, held a virtual fundraiser on Dec. 30 featuring as guests Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma and former Supervisor Ken Yeager. 49ers legend Ronnie Lott appealed to supporters in a video, while the team’s top executives have publicly endorsed Chavez.
Councilmember Raul Peralez told San José Spotlight he’s raised about $264,000. Peralez, who is competing with Chavez for the support of powerful labor organizations in the South Bay, said he deliberately chose to not hold any in-person events during December due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.
“I think it was a wise decision, personally,” Peralez said. “We were able to raise significant resources in three weeks, and we’ve got a good start now and we’ll keep going.”
Councilmember Dev Davis experienced firsthand the risk of holding in-person campaign events. San José Spotlight reported that at least one person contracted COVID-19 after attending a Davis fundraiser held in mid-December at an Almaden mansion. The event, which held about 100 people, did not have a vaccination check and few people wore masks, according to attendees who spoke with San José Spotlight.
Davis, who did not respond to requests for comment, has not announced her fundraising results from December. On Twitter, she’s touted her work as a councilmember completing urban village plans and funding a dedicated city attorney for code enforcement issues.
Dec. 9 was the first date candidates in the mayoral and City Council races could start fundraising. Mayoral contributions max out at $1,400 per person or entity and $700 for candidates running for City Council. The first semi-annual campaign disclosure statement is due Jan. 31.
Mahan, the top fundraiser, didn’t quite break the previous record set by Mayor Sam Liccardo. In 2014, Liccardo raised $513,000 in the first reporting period.