Netflix CEO gives $3M to beat Newsom recall

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks during a press conference. | Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

OAKLAND – Netflix Founder and Co-CEO Reed Hastings is spending $ 3 million to protect Governor Gavin Newsom from a recall vote to demonstrate the enormous sums Newsom allies could raise in his defense.

The massive effort makes Hastings by far the largest donor to Newsom’s recall campaign. Under California rules, Newsom can raise unlimited amounts to fend off a recall that is expected to land in front of voters in the fall, while other gubernatorial candidates have a campaign limit of $ 32,400 per election on their direct accounts. That’s because the law treats Newsom’s fight against the recall as an election issue rather than a candidacy.

This lack of boundaries, combined with California’s predominantly Democratic lean, has led Newsom allies and Republican rivals to predict that the Democratic governor would dwarf the field in fundraising. The Hastings money shows that Newsom has an impressive fundraising network, including the tech industry, where Newsom had strong ties to his days as Mayor of San Francisco.

While Hastings’ million is its largest single donation to date, Newsom has also drawn six-figure spending from a number of prominent individuals and industries including agricultural energy couple Stewart and Lynda Resnick, 49ers CEO Jed York, law firms and unions.

The pace and size of donations have increased recently. The Democratic Governors Association deposited $ 500,000 last week, another sign of the national dimensions of the race. The California nurses union, a longtime ally of Newsom, reported that it channeled an additional $ 400,000 on Thursday.

Hastings’s post also shows a dramatic reversal since Newsom ran for governor in 2018. Hastings poured $ 7 million this year into a charter school-run political action committee that supported Newsom’s Democratic rival, former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Hastings has spent millions of dollars advancing the California charter school agenda.

Hastings then gave Newsom money. But the $ 3 million is of a different magnitude and shows how Newsom can channel Silicon Valley’s financial might. The technology leaders had already signed a letter in which they spoke out against the recall and pledged their support for Newsom.

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