Early Adopters: An Analysis of the 2013 Oakland Mayoral Money Hustle

Also published in the East Bay Express

If money given to candidates is an indication of how important the 2014 Oakland mayoral race is going to be, then this election is gearing up to be a serious clash of perspectives in how to tackle Oakland’s biggest issues.

Check out my data-driven web app showing the money game here.

In November, a vulnerable Jean Quan will defend the mayor’s chair from at least 10 candidates who have expressed interest in running to-date whose political views run the spectrum between strong progressive and intensely law and order. With $573,000 in cash pouring into the war chest’s of just five candidates in 2013 alone, this year’s election is looking to be an expensive one.

With 1,541 reported contributions overall at an average of $309 a pop (this doesn’t include contributions under $100 where an donor disclosure isn’t required), this is meant to be an overview about how the money is settling for each candidate based on their campaign finance disclosures for 2013. Disclosure forms require that a contributor identify what their employer and occupation is in oder to be compliant with state law. An analysis of employers has allowed contributions to be bucketed into sectors and industries to better understand the possible interests behind the contribution.

Powerful interests and people with money to burn have already sent checks to their candidates of choice. In 2013, individuals and companies representing the financial, insurance and real estate sector have given the most collectively with about $117,000 (about 20 percent of all money raised). Donors who identify themselves as retired — a popular and overly general designation that individual contributors love to mark on campaign finance disclosure forms — gave about $62,000. Homemakers and stay-at-home parents with cash to dole out have given their share too with $18,000 given.

Overall, here are the sectors that have contributed the most in 2013:

  • Financial, Insurance and Real Estate: $116,855
  • Retired: $62,192
  • Lawyers and Lobbyists: $55,895
  • Other: $52,657 (includes education, homemakers/unemployed people and other industries that don’t fit neatly into other sectors)
  • Communications and Electronics: $46,858

Drilling down to the candidate level, we start to see where certain interest groups and sectors are hedging their bets, though the race is still young.

Bryan Parker

Bryan Parker, a Port of Oakland Commissioner and Vice President of Real Estate and Internal Growth for DaVita company, raised the most amount of cash in 2013 with $175,082, although he had the least proportion of his contributions come from Oakland (34 percent). Parker reported 452 contributions at an average of $370 each.

Parker has been experimenting with raising funds through crowdfunding websites, like CrowdTilt — he raised close to $60,000 using that platform — and he is even soliciting contributions from people with Bitcoin, a cyprtocurrency. He’s also received the most contributions from people working in tech, including from people who work at IBM, Salesforce.com and Google. He spent $34,375, about half of which was for fundraising activities and about $12,000 for professional services.

Parker’s top contributions by employer:

  • Retired: $8,913
  • Homemakers: $7,700
  • DaVita HealthCare Partners (Health): $5,650
  • The Lapham Company (Real Estate): $2,100
  • Vaquero Capital (Securities and Investment): $2,100

Joe Tuman

Joe Tuman, a professor at San Francisco State who ran for mayor in 2010 (he got 4th place), raised the 2nd largest amount of cash with $145,350 — 66 percent of which came from Oakland. Tuman reported 415 contributions at an average of $338 each.

Tuman certainly tapped the people who identified as retired for contributions seeing as 20 percent of his cash contributions came from that community. He also received a bulk of his money from the financial and real estate sector and from people working in education. Most of the $19,207 he spent went to campaign consultants and information technology.

Tuman’s top contributors by employer:

  • Retired: $29,685
  • A B & I Foundary (Manufacturing): $6,300
  • Mechanics Bank (Commercial Bank): $3,250
  • SKC Communication Products (Telecom Services/Equipment): $2,100
  • Mills College (Education): $1,900

Jean Quan

Jean Quan, the current mayor of Oakland, raised $129,494, placing her in 3rd in terms of money raised, and she got half of her contributions from Oakland. She also took out a personal loan for $30,000. Quan reported 394 contributions at an average of $308 each.

So far, Quan is the only candidate to be receiving money from labor — $9,500 from six unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the California Nurses Association — and she has strong financial support from the Bay Area Asian-American community and non-profits. She also spent the most of any candidate with $39,286, with about $24,000 of that going to campaign consultants.

Quan’s top contributors by employer:

  • Retired: $13,495
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Union): $3,300
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Federal): $1,799
  • Clorox (Chemical Products): $1,400
  • Douglas Parking, Inc. (Automotive): $1,400

Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf, Oakland Council Member for District 4, raised $123,157, placing her in 4th in terms of money raised, but it should be noted that unlike other candidates, Schaaf raised that cash in just five weeks. She raised 53 percent of her money from Oakland, and she took out a loan for $1,050. Schaaf also had reported 279 contributions at an average of $430 each, which was the highest per contribution average.

Schaaf received close to 20 percent of her money from the financial, insurance and real estate sector. People identified as homemakers and not employed managed to give $11,300, nearly 10 percent of the money she raised. She spent $3,369 on fundraising.

Schaaf’s top contributors by employer:

  • Retired: $10,100
  • Homemakers: $8,400
  • San Francisco Regional Center (Securities and Investment): $4,400
  • Not Employed: $2,900
  • Holland and Knight, Inc. (Law Firm): $2,000

Patrick McCullough

Patrick McCullough, an electronics technician with the City of Berkeley, is best known for a 2005 incident outside his North Oakland home where he shot a 15-year-old teenager after a culmination of violent confrontations with youth there. The attention the incident garnered compelled him to run — unsuccessfully — against then-District 1 Council Member Jane Brunner in 2008.

McCullough gave $100 of his own cash to start his campaign coffers. Although the amount is small, he does the honor of raising the greatest percentage of his cash from Oakland, however.

Other Candidates

Not all candidates who have expressed interest in running for mayor collected contributions in 2013. In fact, a candidate doesn’t have to form a committee until they raise, or expect raise, at least $1,000 during the race. To that end, these candidates didn’t raise any money in 2013:

  • Peter Yuan Liu – No Committee
  • Nancy Sidebotham – No Committee
  • Dan Siegel
  • Gregory Wade – No Committee
  • Charles Williams- No Committee
  • Margaret Wrigley-Larson – No Committee