Big Spenders Vie for SF Superior Bench

For San Francisco’s judicial candidates, this spring is proving to be one heck of an expensive job interview.

Both have spent in the neighborhood of $100,000 — or more — so far. And both have reached into their own pockets for substantial money to finance their campaigns; local attorney Eric Safire has loaned his campaign $75,000, while retired judge Lillian Sing has loaned herself $45,000.

She’s done the best when it comes to raising hard, cold cash — from other people — bringing in $76,249 to Safire’s $47,932 between March 18 and May 20, according to recently filed campaign finance reports. (Safire may have made up for some of that discrepancy in spending power, though, with $40,057 in other kinds of contributions, like donated party space and food, compared to $1,420 for Sing.)

Sing got more cash, though, by bringing in more four-figure checks, from generous givers that include local retirees and business people, as well as attorneys such as local lawyer Leanna Dawydiak ($1,320), and Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy partners Joseph Cotchett ($2,500) and Bruce Simon ($1,000). As expected, Sing also got some help from several of her fellow colleagues on the bench, though none of them even matched the generosity of Judge A. James Robertson II ($560), or the two court clerks who ponied up at least $1,000 apiece.

Safire, who entered the race later than Sing and has never run for office before, managed to score occasional contributions in the thousands, including from U.A. Local 38 ($1,000). But the bulk of his cash fundraising came from small-firm or solo attorneys, buttressed by checks from Public Defender Jeff Adachi ($500), a smattering of other lawyers in the PD’s and district attorney’s offices, and various retirees, professors, bail bondsmen and the like. He also managed to get a bigger check than Sing from Deputy Public Defender Daro Inouye, who appears to be the only contributor so far to donate to both races, giving $120 to Sing on April 5, and $200 to Safire on April 11.

Pam Smith

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