Giant pile of money

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to clarify that independent committees cannot coordinate activities with candidates’ campaign committees.

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In the race for cash in the special mayoral election, Councilman David Alvarez held a commanding lead with more than $1 million raised by his campaign and committees that support his candidacy as of Thursday.

Next came former assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who surged ahead of Councilman Kevin Faulconer in the first comprehensive financial report of the campaign. Fletcher and the independent committee that supports him reported raising a total of $773,000 compared with Faulconer’s $637,000.

Remarkable was that former city attorney Mike Aguirre reported raising only $3,385, including $1,500 from himself. He spent $375. Aguirre said he wouldn’t accept large donations, but collected so little that he filed his report on paper. Candidates are only required to file electronically if they raise $10,000.

All told, the four major candidates and various independent committees–established to support their bids but prohibited from coordinating activities with the campaigns–have raised nearly $2.5 million over the past six weeks.

Up until Thursday at 5 p.m., the candidates only had to report contributions from large donors, those who had given at least $1,000. inewsource has been tracking those numbers daily in an interactive that lists names, amounts and locations.


In the new complete report, the first of three that will be filed before the Nov. 19 election, the candidates must list total donations and expenditures. Anyone who contributed $100 or more must be named.




The detailed breakdowns follow:

David Alvarez

Alvarez, who has been endorsed by the local Democratic Party and big labor groups, held his lead in fundraising. He and the three independent committees supporting him reported raising $1,039,677 as of Oct. 10.

The independent political committees supporting Alvarez raised a combined $895,400 in cash and non-monetary contributions. Most of those contributions came in large chunks over the past month from labor groups. For example, Working Families for a Better San Diego, a political committee established in early September by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, raised almost $900,000 from 13 contributions.

Of the more than a million raised by Alvarez and supportive committees, $55,000 came in over the past five days.


Click here to look up donors, committees and see who is in the lead for cash in the San Diego Mayoral election.



(The reports due Thursday only detailed contributions and expenditures through Oct. 5. Since that time, campaigns have continued to report each day contributions over $1,000. To give the fullest picture, inewsource combined all reported donations through Oct. 10.)

From the start of the campaign through Oct. 5, the reporting period reflected in Thursday’s filing, Alvarez’s committee reported raising $144,277. An inewsource analysis found 281 named individuals — those who contributed at least $100–made contributions. Of the total given, $5,321 — 3.7 percent — came in from people who gave less than $100.


Through Oct. 5, the Alvarez campaign spent $40,569. The three independent committees backing him spent a combined $441,803.

The overwhelming majority of the expenditures were made by Working Families for a Better San Diego, an independent committee sponsored by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council. That committee spent more than $200,000 on television airtime and tens of thousands of dollars on polling.

Nathan Fletcher

Fletcher and his committee reported receiving contributions of $773,363 as of Oct. 10. This increase in donations from his previously reported $411,000 from big donors means the difference came primarily from people who contributed less than $1,000.

Fletcher’s campaign raised $629,863, including $250 in non-monetary contributions. Restoring Trust in San Diego, a pro-Fletcher independent political committee, received $143,500 in contributions.

From the start of the campaign through Oct. 5, the reporting period reflected in Thursday’s filing, Fletcher’s committee campaign raised $619,863. An inewsource analysis found 1,022 named individuals — those who contributed at least $100 — made contributions.

Restoring Trust in San Diego received $57,500 in contributions as of Oct. 5..

In Fletcher’s contributions reported on Thursday’s filing, $7,233 — 1.2 percent –was raised from individuals who gave less than $100.

Fletcher spent $370,185.

Kevin Faulconer

Faulconer and his committee raised at least $636,635 as of Oct. 10, less than Alvarez and Fletcher, but a big increase over the $448,000 he had reported previously from big donors.

Faulconer’s total reflects $18,250 raised by the campaign since Oct. 5 from contributors who gave at least $1,000. San Diegans to Protect Jobs & the Economy, a pro-Faulconer independent political committee, reported contributions of $110,750.

From the start of the campaign through Oct. 5, the reporting period reflected in Thursday’s filing, Faulconer’s campaign committee raised $507,635. That amount includes $750 in loans and $4,103 in non-monetary contributions.

Candidates are required to list the names of contributors who donate at least $100. Faulconer went a step further and listed the names of all contributors to his campaign, including one individual who gave the candidate a dollar. He listed a number of $10, $15 and $20 donors.

An inewsource analysis found Faulconer named 1,085 individuals who made contributions.

In Faulconer’s contributions reported on Thursday’s filing, $5,419 — 1.1 percent — came from individuals who donated less than $100.

Through Oct. 5, Faulconer’s campaign spent $145,733.

Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email