By Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, October 30, 2008
We’re told that Gavin Newsom is a) a pretty private guy and b) not particularly comfortable with asking for help. So it was kind of a big deal that he opened his Russian Hill home to some big-name, deep-pocketed donors Wednesday night for a private bash to raise money against Proposition 8.
Newsom says they’re still counting the checks, but they’ve raised more than $200,000, and possibly close to $250,000.
That’s a pretty decent chunk of money, but the mayor told guests on Wednesday that they need about $5 million from now until Election Day — that’s about $1 million a day — to battle Prop. 8, which is the most expensive social-issue campaign in U.S. history, and second only to the presidential election in money spent this year. Political analysts are expecting the campaigns for both sides to spend a total of $70 million.
“It’s very strange to look up and see you all here. We don’t usually do this,” Newsom said, laughing, to the assembled guests after welcoming them to his home. “But we have got to do everything we can to step it up in the next six days.”
About 75 people attended Newsom’s event, each donating at least $2,500 per couple. Newsom said he and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, have only hosted one other party since they got married in July, and that was for 10 or so guests.
Not that either the mayor or his wife seemed particularly uncomfortable with the infiltration of their penthouse, a cozy apartment that sits on the 20th floor and features a sweeping view of the city (when the fog isn’t rolling in like it was Wednesday night).
Newsom climbed over furniture to greet guests in the crowded living room, and neither the mayor or his wife batted an eye when someone dropped a glass of wine in the corner.
Guests included a wide range of the politically powerful, the wealthy, and the just-plain famous. State Assemblyman Mark Leno announced to the crowd that he’d decided to donate an extra $5,000. Singer Tracy Chapman said that before this year she’d never given money to a political campaign, but she’s now written three checks to oppose Prop. 8.
(Chapman wouldn’t say how much she’s donated, but a fundraising database lists $15,000 in contributions from her against Prop. 8.)
Other guests included city officials (Treasurer Jose Cisneros and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting), gay rights activists (Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights gave an impassioned speech), and some of Newsom’s closest confidantes (lawyer and Democratic powerhouse Joseph Cotchett; former Newsom aide Joyce Newstat).
“For years, I never gave money to the candidates because I didn’t believe that money should be part of our political process,” Chapman said. “But clearly it matters in terms of getting the message out, and if it’s something that needs to be done, we have to do everything we can.”