A scheduled May 20 debate among mayoral candidates by two tech-funded advocacy groups has been making Mayor London Breed uneasy, and as of Tuesday, she is officially pulling out.

The divide among the moneyed elites over the upcoming mayoral election in San Francisco is getting starker. And while in earlier years you might have expected a fair amount of Silicon Valley wealth to line up behind incumbent Mayor London Breed, some of that money is now being funneled elsewhere through groups like TogetherSF Action and GrowSF, which are co-hosting Monday's debate.

Also backing out of the debate is Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, in an odd alliance with Breed, with both agreeing that the organizers seem to be in bed with challenger and former supervisor (and briefly mayor) Mark Farrell.

This will certainly undercut the breathless billing that TogetherSF Action has given the event, described as "our first-ever, can’t-miss, make-or-break, make-them-sweat mayoral debate" — since it seems like only Farrell, Daniel Lurie, and maybe Ahsha Safai will be made to "sweat."

We learned about Breed's misgivings last week, with Breed's spokesperson Joe Arellano telling Politico, "We have real concerns with the debate and are reevaluating our participation. Multiple moderators have dropped out and the continued instability around the planning of the debate are concerning with two weeks to go before the event."

As Mission Local reports, Breed made her withdrawal from the debate official on Tuesday.

"Over the past few weeks, the media has reported on numerous troubling connections between the Farrell campaign and the leadership of TogetherSF," Breed says in a statement. "Since the debate was announced, TogetherSF’s debate planning process has been marked by chaos. The distractions have reached a fever pitch and tainted the debate beyond repair."

The media reports include this one from late April in the Chronicle that discussed how Kanishka Cheng, the head of TogetherSF Action, is a former staffer to both Breed and Farrell; and her husband, Jay Cheng, is the head of that other political action group Neighbors for a Better San Francisco, which is SF's biggest-spending PAC of recent years and participated in discussions with both the campaigns of Daniel Lurie and Mark Farrell.

Mission Local subsequently reported that Kanishka Cheng is allegedly helping to consult with the Farrell campaign — and when a reporter was seeking an interview with Farrell, they were told by another consultant that Cheng was "guiding the ship."

Breed is probably right to be wary of this situation, given that TogetherSF Action was also the group behind that asinine "That's Fentalife!" ad campaign last year which seemed to take aim at her administration. (That, as well as the SF Standard publication, are bankrolled by billionaire venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who is simultaneously investing in building that new "city of yesterday" dubbed California Forever in Solano County. Moritz also notably penned an op-ed in the New York Times last year complaining that SF "has become subject to the tyranny of the minority" and is "crippled by a small coterie who knows how to bend government to its will.")

The withdrawal by Breed seems likely to trigger a withdrawal by Lurie as well, whose spokesperson told Politico last week, "Daniel is eager to debate the insiders who’ve overseen the decline of San Francisco."

Breed has now invited progressive challenger Peskin to participate in a "moderated discussion" at Manny's on Monday, May 20, during the same timeframe that the TogetherSF debate is happening, 6 to 7 pm. Mission Local's Joe Eskenazi will be the moderator.

"San Francisco needs debates free from the influence of partisan political action committees," says Peskin in a statement. "I’m excited for the opportunity to have a discussion about the future in a non-partisan setting conducive to a mature debate. There’s too much at stake for anything less."

Previously: Breed Threatens to Back Out of First Mayoral Debate, Questions Whether It Might Be Rigged by Organizer

Top image: London Breed, Mayor of San Francisco speaks onstage during the Inaugural Reception of the New Consulate General of Sweden in San Francisco at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on February 20, 2024 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images)