With election day looming, donors pour millions into California governor’s race

A small field of contenders hoping to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown in November has raised nearly $70 million. Here’s what we know.

Who's raised the most?

Gavin Newsom, whose donors range from Silicon Valley to Hollywood, has maintained a lead throughout the campaign. Asian American business leaders have contributed large sums to John Chiang, while Antonio Villaraigosa has largely depended on the most wealthy. John Cox, who has done well in recent polls, has given more than $4 million to his own campaign.

Total (in millions)
1. Gavin Newsom (D)
Lieutenant governor
$26.5
2. Antonio Villaraigosa (D)
Former mayor of Los Angeles
22.5
3. John Chiang (D)
State treasurer
12.8
4. John Cox (R)
Businessman and venture capitalist
5.2
5. Travis Allen (R)
Assemblyman from Huntington Beach
1.1
6. Delaine Eastin (D)
Former state superintendent of public instruction
0.9
7. Amanda Renteria (D)
Political aide
0.1

The money race has tightened

Newsom's early lead was sliced thanks to large infusions into his competitors' campaigns. Over a few days in April, four wealthy donors steered more than $12 million into a committee supporting Villaraigosa. Chiang recently transferred more than $3 million banked from a past campaign.

Note: This chart is limited to contributions for which a date was disclosed.

A north-south divide

Most of Newsom’s money has come from the Bay Area, including $6.5 million from San Francisco, where he served as mayor. Chiang, a Torrance native, lost his early lead in Los Angeles County after Villaraigosa pulled in donations from prominent Angelenos in April. Villaraigosa has also made inroads in California's Central Valley.

The spheres of influence

In a shift from previous elections, Hollywood and its related businesses are the biggest backers of candidates in this race. Here’s how much some noteworthy sectors have spent so far.

Note: The Times categorized contributions based on staff research. Individual donors were classified by their employer and occupation. Organizations that made donations were categorized by their primary business.

Who’s writing the checks?

Here are some of the top donors to each campaign.

Gavin Newsom

Newsom’s donor list includes famous names from all across the state. He also has the most money from small donors, whose identities are not disclosed.

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

Billionaire couple behind Fiji Water and POM Wonderful juice. Have given to both Newsom and Villaraigosa

$116,800

Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue

Former CEO of Yahoo and her husband, a Silicon Valley investor

$108,800

Andrew Hauptman

Chairman of private investment firm Andell Inc.

$58,400

George Soros

Chairman of an investment management firm and philanthropist. Leading benefactor of Democratic candidates

$57,400

Peter Thiel

Venture capitalist and PayPal cofounder who supported Republican Donald Trump in 2016 presidential election

$56,400

Laurene Powell Jobs

Widow of Steve Jobs and founder of Emerson Collective, an organization supporting education, immigration reform and social justice

$28,200

Bill Maher

Entertainer and host of HBO's "Real Time," who has encouraged Newsom to run for president in 2020

$28,200

Marshawn Lynch

NFL running back, currently with the Oakland Raiders

$1,000

Antonio Villaraigosa

Villaraigosa initially relied on donations from those who supported his mayoral campaigns. A newly formed PAC has nearly doubled the dollars supporting his candidacy.

Reed Hastings

Netflix CEO and supporter of charter schools in Los Angeles

$7,056,400

Eli and Edythe L. Broad

Philanthropists in the arts and education

$2,614,800

Michael R. Bloomberg

Former New York City mayor

$1,500,000

Richard Riordan

Former L.A. mayor, who has given to both Chiang and Villaraigosa

$1,014,100

Alice L. Walton

Walmart heiress, museum founder, horse breeder, richest woman in the world

$750,000

Peter and Megan Chernin

Studio and media executive, and his wife, an education philanthropist

$116,800

Stewart and Lynda Resnick

Billionaire couple behind Fiji Water and POM Wonderful juice. Have given to both Newsom and Villaraigosa

$112,800

Marc and Jane Nathanson

Chairman of private venture capital firm Mapleton Investments, and his wife, a psychotherapist

$61,400

Ryan Seacrest

Radio and television personality

$56,400

Anschutz Entertainment Group

A worldwide presenter of live music, entertainment and sporting events run by Philip Anschutz, a prominent Republican donor and L.A. developer

$56,400

John Chiang

Asian Americans have contributed in large quantities to Chiang, who is seeking to become California’s first Asian American governor. Despite having less of his total from the wealthy and small donors, he has still amassed a significant war chest.

Jackson and Julie Yang

Owners of Seville Classics, a manufacturer and distributer of organizational and storage products

$116,800

Alice and JP Wang

President and CEO of Golden Star Technology

$114,800

C.C. and Regina Yin

Owners of several dozen McDonald’s restaurants

$104,100

Christopher Pak

President and CEO of the architectural firm Archeon International Group

$58,386

Wai-Yan Sandy Chau

CEO of venture capitalist firm Acorn Campus Ventures

$56,400

Wilson Wang

Real estate broker with Atlas Hospitality Group

$52,700

Henry Chen

President of Regal Wheel Corp., a distributor of automotive supplies

$50,000

Eric and Susan Smidt

Chairman and chief executive officer of Harbor Freight Tools, and his wife

$40,000

Richard Riordan

Former L.A. mayor, who has given to both Chiang and Villaraigosa

$14,100

Sources: California Secretary of State, California Civic Data Coalition, Mapzen, Times analysis

About the data: Totals on this page include all contributions made to the candidates’ gubernatorial committees and other groups working on a candidate’s behalf. The records are drawn from two sources: first, periodic disclosure reports filed with the California secretary of state, which cover donations through June 30, 2017; second, reports of donations greater than $5,000 since then, which must be disclosed soon after they are received. This page was originally published May 1, 2017, and it will be updated as the campaign progresses.

Credits: Photo editing by Andrea Roberson, development by Ben Welsh and Andrew Briz, classification algorithm by Anthony Pesce