Russian Time Magazine

Who is funding the Sacramento mayor’s race?

The breakdown of campaign contributions to each candidate


Local voters will head to the polls on March 5 with more than the presidential primary on their minds – they’ll also be deciding most prominent leader in the city of Sacramento.

Given that the next mayor will helm the capital of the fifth largest economy in the world, there is no shortage of money flowing into various campaign coffers. SN&R has reviewed and analyzed the official disclosures for all six hopefuls in the contest.

Our recent reporting indicates that residents remain deeply concerned about housing prices, evictions, gentrification and displacement; the widening breadth of homelessness, both its tragic human toll as well as its impacts small businesses, visitation dollars and public health and sanitation; violent crime and public safety (including questions as simple as ‘Why have so many coffeehouse baristas been assaulted Downtown?’); rebuilding the city’s post-pandemic economy and assisting those businesses still recovering from the lockdowns; and working with county officials to improve the region’s broader mental health apparatus, particularly in ways that help students dealing with trauma and learning loss, as well as other vulnerable populations.

The following campaign finance review is meant to be a contextual tool that voters can add to their larger calculus when making a decision. This analysis doesn’t include money that independent Political Action Campaigns spent on behalf of a candidate, rather than donated directly to that candidate. To read each candidate discussing their priorities and attempts to reach the public in their own words, check out Jacob Peterson’s companion piece to this story, “Candidates for Sacramento’s next mayor make a final push. Here’s how they’re reaching the people.”

SN&R’s document review determined that the candidate who pulled in the most campaign contributions was former District 4 councilman Steve Hansen, netting more than $236,234. He was followed by epidemiologist and community volunteer Dr. Flojaune Cofer, who pulled in more than $174,440. State Assemblyman Kevin McCarty brought in the third largest campaign haul at just over $74,000. Coming in fourth for contributions was former State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, who received roughly $30,000. Candidates Julius Michael Engel and Jose Antonio Avina II did not document any noticeable contributions at the time of this analysis.

Steve Hansen

Hansen’s financial backing came from an array of sources. The highest amount was from a category that SN&R filed under the umbrella of ‘construction companies and building trade unions,’ with Hansen getting at least $46,000 from those combined sectors.

Hansen’s next biggest source of campaign support came from individual and small dollar donations, which added up to more than $32,520.

His third most-successful area of fundraising was what SN&R deemed ‘other elected officials and political candidates in California.’ The state and region’s political class contributed at least $28,350 to Hansen’s bid. Those checks came from officials as geographically diverse as Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass.

Hansen’s fourth largest contribution bracket equalled developers, who gave him at least $27,399. That was followed closely by real estate and property management interests, which kicked in another $25,473 on Hansen’s behalf.

The former councilman’s fifth best sweet spot for contributions was various Sacramento-area small businesses, which brought at least $23,000 in support. That was followed by marketing, public relations and political consulting firms, who donated a combined $20,690.

For various reasons, SN&R did not count Sacramento-area attorneys within the ‘individual and small dollar donor category,’ but rather made them their own bracket. Sacramento attorneys rallied as Hansen’s seventh-best source of campaign contributions, giving him $15,772. They were followed by a category we organized as ‘the Tech and telecommunications industry and associated political action committees.’ Hansen’s contributions from those sectors equaled $8,760. Finally, Hansen received $2,220 from limited liability corporations of undetermined natures; $2,000 from non-construction or public safety-related unions; $1,650 from the Sacramento firefighters’ union; and $1,000 from the Sacramento police officers’ union.

Dr. Flojaune Cofer

While Cofer had several sources of support, her pot of campaign cash came overwhelming from individual and small dollar donations. Of her $174,440-plus war chest, some $141,861 of it poured in directly from voters. Many were doctors, nurses, mental health professionals and religious leaders, but the professions also veered into the arts: Cofer was the only mayoral candidate this year to get contributions from people listing themselves as poets, artists, writers and filmmakers.

Organized labor, a bracket that didn’t include public safety or building trade unions in SN&R’s categorical system (those were both separate brackets), amounted to Cofer’s second-largest area of support. She received $9,550 from those union sources.

As with Hansen, there were a number of Sacramento-area attorneys who were getting behind Cofer. They wrote checks to her that combined for $8,004 in contributions.

Sacramento-area small businesses were another front in which Cofer and Hansen competed for support. Small businesses equaled Cofer’s fourth largest source of donations at $3,775.

In the category of ‘the Tech and telecommunications industry and associated political action campaigns,’ Cofer received $3,050 in contributions.

Cofer also received $200 from what would qualify as ‘real estate interests’ within this bracketing system, though those were two individual realtors who gave $100 each, not contributions from any organizations or companies.

Kevin McCarty

McCarty’s biggest source of funding came from other people working in politics. ‘Other elected officials and political candidates in California’ brought his highest amount of donations at $32,450. That is just under half of his total $74,000 campaign spending arsenal.

McCarty’s second largest funding source came from individual and small dollar donations. He pulled in $16,850 directly from area voters.

The third largest source of funding for McCarty was gambling interests, who chipped in $12,150.

Similar to Hansen and Cofer, McCarty received donation from ‘the Tech and telecommunications industry and associated political action campaigns.’ In his case, to the amount of $4,050, which was his fourth best showing.

Sacrament-area small businesses were McCarthy’s fifth largest contributors, collectively donating $3,600 to his campaign.

The category that SN&R organized as ‘marketing, public relations and political consulting firms’ ranked as McCarty’s sixth largest contribution source at $1,700.

Finally, McCarty received $1,100 from developers; $1,000 from Sacramento-area attorneys; and $1,000 from real estate and property management interests.

Dr. Richard Pan

Pan found most of his funding support from individual and small dollar donations. He pulled in around $14,150 directly from Sacramentans and others who believe in his campaign.

Other elected officials and candidates donated $4,050 to Pan’s campaign. Sacramento-area attorneys also donated $4,050 in support of him.

The California Medical Association’s political action committee gave Pan $4,050 as well.

Political consultants added $2,750 to Pan’s hopes.

Finally, a political action campaign for the American Physicians Groups of California donated $1,000 to Pan’s bid for mayor.
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