San Francisco occupies a special place in the conservative psyche, with its problems dementedly caricatured and grossly exaggerated by people like Elon Musk, who rarely leave the Tenderloin to livestream their war zone reports. Its domestic affairs are often scrutinized like the Talmud for some greater meaning. When voters recalled progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin last year, it fed a narrative, fairly or not, that the progressive left was too progressive, even for San Francisco. I no longer read the innumerable articles about low-occupancy rates in the city’s downtown office buildings, because if you’ve read one of those think pieces, you’ve read them all. So when Mayor London Breed runs for reelection a year from now, you can bet her bid will inevitably draw national eyeballs and fuel Tucker segments about the fentanyl crisis, the “doom loop,” and why, exactly, the deodorant is locked up at Walgreens.
Enter Daniel Lurie, the 46-year-old It-boy of Pacific Heights, founder of Tipping Point and would-be avatar of this political zeitgeist, who announced six weeks ago that he would be challenging Breed for the mayorship. Lurie is a Democrat, and clearly not of the same political class as Elon or Tucker, but he is tapping into some of the same frustration. The talk around town this year has been that he would successfully harness the resentment and money emanating from the tech industry and its billionaire class to ascend to higher office. Over the last year, Lurie has gone on an aggressive listening tour—seriously, has anyone not had a coffee with Daniel recently?—sitting down with almost every major donor and power broker in the city, seemingly on a mission to convince them that he, a Levi Strauss heir, was the guy to take down Breed and restore the city to glory.
He has the résumé for it. Almost 20 years ago, Lurie founded the charity Tipping Point, Silicon Valley’s answer to Wall Street’s Robin Hood Foundation. In fact, Lurie started his career at Robin Hood and came home to the Bay Area with a goal of similarly collecting money from the region’s wealthiest citizens to combat the problems of its poorest. Each year at their annual breakfast, which I’ve been to, Lurie steps up onto the rostrum and delivers his sincere, perfectly calibrated tearjerker routine about poverty in the Bay Area. Much like Lurie’s friend, Robin Hood C.E.O.-turned-Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Lurie is extraordinarily effective in the fundraising arena. He raised over $500 million for Tipping Point, making him one of the city’s most prodigious bundlers, before stepping down as C.E.O. in 2019.