chu.jpgDonors are pouring money into Supervisor Carmen Chu’s re-election campaign fund, yet nearly all of her financial supporters will never see Chu’s name on a ballot — and many more do not even live in San Francisco.

Chu, who is so far unopposed in her bid for another term as District 4’s representative on the Board of Supervisors, raked in nearly $70,000 in campaign contributions in 2009, finance records show.

That figure makes her one of the citywide leaders in fundraising, and almost ensures she will not face any serious opposition. But only $5,600, or less than 10 percent, came from her own Sunset District constituents.

In fact, Chu’s most generous supporters are represented on the Board by another Chiu–David Chiu, who as progressive Board president is often one of mayoral ally Carmen Chu’s political opponents. Chu accepted $13,500 from donors with zip codes within David Chiu’s District 3 boundaries, records show, more than any other supervisorial district, including Chu’s own District 4.

Why out-of-district and out-of-town money would pour into an uncontested election race is unclear.

In all, almost two-thirds of Chu’s war chest — over $43,000 — comes from San Francisco voters who will not have the chance to cast a vote for her. Out of 196 total contributors, 23 — or less than 12 percent — are District 4 constituents.

Chu is running unopposed in the district, which she has represented since her September 2007 appointment by Mayor Gavin Newsom. Chu was appointed to replace Ed Jew, who is serving a federal prison sentence in Arizona.

Chu benefited from out-of-town generosity as well: 47 donors and three political action committees with addresses from Sacramento to Los Angeles to even Plano, Texas, chipped in another $20,000 towards keeping Chu in charge of 19th Avenue to Great Highway, records show.

Why out-of-district and out-of-town money would pour into an uncontested election race is unclear. Other mayoral favorites face closer and far more uncertain battles in Districts 6 and 2. Chu has been a staunch mayoral ally and a key vote in political struggles — such as upholding vetoes — between the Board and Newsom.

Relying on outside money to win local elections is hardly a new phenomenon in San Francisco. Aaron Peskin, local Democratic Party chairman and District 3 supervisor from 2001 to 2009, recalled that of the 14 candidates who stood for supervisor in the 2000 election, only two raised more than half of their campaign money within their district: “(District 4 candidate) John Shanley, and me.”

“It’s not surprising that (outside) people would invest in a supervisor,” Peskin said. National action committees to support, say, LGBT candidates will often contribute money in local elections. “But I would find it surprising if it was the vast majority.”

Calls to Nichelle Lyons, who is listed as Chu’s campaign manager, were not returned. Chu declined to discuss her campaign when approached at City Hall on Tuesday. City law prohibits elected officials from using city-owned resources, such as city e-mail accounts or phone lines, for campaign purposes.

Chu’s done nothing illegal or unethical, and has by all accounts done a fine, if prosaic, job representing the Sunset. And while there’s eight months left to go before the November election, Chu’s formidable fundraising machine will likely scare off any serious opposition.

Though it does leave one to wonder…

“Obviously, if you’re a district representative, the more money you raise within your district, the more legitimate you are,” Peskin said. “Right?”

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  • bloomsm

    The reason Carmen Chu does well outside the City is because she’s not from San Francisco, she’s a carpetbagger who was appointed to her seat after working for Gavin Newsom. She hails from Southern California, but appeals to the Sunset District voters because it is a predominantly Asian district. We have seen District 4 campaign finance issues in the past (Jaynry Mak anyone?). It is not surprising to see unexplained money show up on District 4 coffers.

    Plus, ask any political consultant in this City, and they will tell you that given the Sunset’s demographics, it is one seat that is likely to vote time and again for an Asian supervisorial candidate. In fact, what surprises me is that all these years and the City has never produced a legitimate Asian mayoral candidate from the Sunset. This seems like a no-brainer and yet….

  • bloomsm

    The reason Carmen Chu does well outside the City is because she’s not from San Francisco, she’s a carpetbagger who was appointed to her seat after working for Gavin Newsom. She hails from Southern California, but appeals to the Sunset District voters because it is a predominantly Asian district. We have seen District 4 campaign finance issues in the past (Jaynry Mak anyone?). It is not surprising to see unexplained money show up on District 4 coffers.

    Plus, ask any political consultant in this City, and they will tell you that given the Sunset’s demographics, it is one seat that is likely to vote time and again for an Asian supervisorial candidate. In fact, what surprises me is that all these years and the City has never produced a legitimate Asian mayoral candidate from the Sunset. This seems like a no-brainer and yet….

  • Xenu

    She can take all the out of town money she wants for all I care, as long as she doesn’t take bribes and live in Burlingame.

  • Xenu

    She can take all the out of town money she wants for all I care, as long as she doesn’t take bribes and live in Burlingame.

  • Akit

    I’ve always considered Chu to be a puppet of Newsom ever since she was appointed by the Mayor. She should have been elected to the position by the Sunset residents when Ed Jew resigned.

  • Akit

    I’ve always considered Chu to be a puppet of Newsom ever since she was appointed by the Mayor. She should have been elected to the position by the Sunset residents when Ed Jew resigned.

  • Xenu

    Dude, you’re missing the point here. Residents of the Sunset are clearly not capable of voting; they elected Jew in the first place. The fact that he was a scumbag was never a secret, and yet they elected him regardless.

  • Xenu

    Dude, you’re missing the point here. Residents of the Sunset are clearly not capable of voting; they elected Jew in the first place. The fact that he was a scumbag was never a secret, and yet they elected him regardless.

  • Eve Batey

    But did they? Or is ranked choice voting the REAL ENEMY (imagine Sinead O’Connor ripping photo on SNL here)? Just wondering.

  • Eve Batey

    But did they? Or is ranked choice voting the REAL ENEMY (imagine Sinead O’Connor ripping photo on SNL here)? Just wondering.

  • bloomsm

    The real enemy is district elections, which have created virtual locks on candidate choice. There are “safe” seats (assuming that redistricting doesn’t radically alter the landscape). You can narrowly appeal to your constituents’ narrow band of needs, while simultaneously ignoring every other part of the city.

    SF is too small for district elections and the gerrymandering that is sure to follow when districts are redrawn next year.

  • bloomsm

    The real enemy is district elections, which have created virtual locks on candidate choice. There are “safe” seats (assuming that redistricting doesn’t radically alter the landscape). You can narrowly appeal to your constituents’ narrow band of needs, while simultaneously ignoring every other part of the city.

    SF is too small for district elections and the gerrymandering that is sure to follow when districts are redrawn next year.

  • k4SunsetDist

    Where is Ron Dudum? He is not a carpet bagger. He has been close to winning the district election several times. But as blooms suggested earlier — the “demographics” out here make it nearly impossible for an honest resident of the district to win.

  • k4SunsetDist

    Where is Ron Dudum? He is not a carpet bagger. He has been close to winning the district election several times. But as blooms suggested earlier — the “demographics” out here make it nearly impossible for an honest resident of the district to win.

  • be_devine

    Akit, Chu did run for election after Jew’s term expired. In 2008, in a three-way race, Chu got over 50% of the vote. 2011 will be her second time standing for election.

  • be_devine

    Akit, Chu did run for election after Jew’s term expired. In 2008, in a three-way race, Chu got over 50% of the vote. 2011 will be her second time standing for election.

  • On the Avenue

    Money coming in from PLANO, TEXAS? WTF?!

    Having said that, I like Carmen. She’s not my Supe — but I like her.

  • On the Avenue

    Money coming in from PLANO, TEXAS? WTF?!

    Having said that, I like Carmen. She’s not my Supe — but I like her.

  • On the Avenue

    I can find fault with district elections and say that the pool of candidates can be woefully…well, woeful. On the other hand, I remember why we changed to district elections: downtown interests just had a lock on the Board of Supes and it got a little discouraging having a Board who all knew Pac Heights and Cow Hollow and St. Francis Woods and Seacliff – but had never been to Bernal Heights (that was like the Wild West in the 1970s) or Lakeside, etc.

    Of course, not sure it’s really all that different — anyone can contribute and “special interests” and groups with money still buy politicians all the same.

  • On the Avenue

    I can find fault with district elections and say that the pool of candidates can be woefully…well, woeful. On the other hand, I remember why we changed to district elections: downtown interests just had a lock on the Board of Supes and it got a little discouraging having a Board who all knew Pac Heights and Cow Hollow and St. Francis Woods and Seacliff – but had never been to Bernal Heights (that was like the Wild West in the 1970s) or Lakeside, etc.

    Of course, not sure it’s really all that different — anyone can contribute and “special interests” and groups with money still buy politicians all the same.

  • areallyniceguy

    Who is Carmen Chu?

  • areallyniceguy

    Who is Carmen Chu?