Netflix CEO gives $3M to beat Newsom recall

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

OAKLAND — Netflix founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings is spending $3 million to shield Gov. Gavin Newsom from a recall vote in a demonstration of the enormous sums Newsom’s allies could marshal in his defense, according to a state filing today.

The massive outlay makes Hastings by far the largest donor to Newsom’s recall campaign. Under California rules, Newsom can raise unlimited sums to fend off a recall effort that will likely land before voters in the fall, while other gubernatorial candidates are subject to campaign limits of $32,400 per election in their direct accounts. That’s because the law treats Newsom’s fight against the recall as a ballot issue rather than a candidacy.

That lack of limits, combined with California’s overwhelmingly Democratic lean, has had Newsom allies and Republican rivals predicting the Democratic governor would eclipse the field in fundraising. The money from Hastings demonstrates that Newsom can tap into a formidable fundraising network that includes the tech industry, where Newsom retains deep ties reaching back to his days as mayor of San Francisco.

While Hastings’ millions represent the largest single donation to date, Newsom has also drawn six-figure outlays from a range of prominent individuals and industries that include agricultural power couple Stewart and Lynda Resnick, 49ers CEO Jed York, law firms and labor unions.

The pace and size of donations has intensified recently. The Democratic Governors Association poured in $500,000 last week in another sign of the race’s national dimensions. California’s nurses union, a longtime Newsom ally, reported channeling an additional $400,000 on Thursday.

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

Hastings subsequently has given money to Newsom. But the $3 million is on another order of magnitude, and it demonstrates how Newsom will be able to channel the financial might of Silicon Valley. Tech leaders had already signed on to a letter opposing the recall and pledging their support for Newsom.

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